Home' Get Up and Go : Spring 2012 Contents 32 GetUp&Go
After spending a couple of days digging into the
past of the buzzy city of Zurich a visitor can be
completely mellowed out by the beautiful old
buildings, historic structures and the cosy vibe of the inner
workings of the old town. But as pleasant and pretty
as Zurich is, there’s the ‘other’ side of town where the
industry chugs away and the buildings aren’t so pretty.
There are old parts of the industrial sector here, but
there’s not much traditional industry or fabrication
anymore. And like many industrial city areas throughout
European metropolises, neglect and dilapidation were the
starting points for gentrification and a new beginning in
the 21st century.
Zurich West used to tap along to the sounds of machines
and black soot would hang in the air – but now it’s
the hippest place to visit in town. Buildings have been
renovated in an exciting way – sympathetic to the past and
the people who slogged it out here – architecture on every
street is innovative and thoughtful. Facades have stayed
and the buildings behind peep through with a wink to
previous generations and a nod to the future.
One such standout here is a building block construction
of steel containers – the flagship store of Freitag.
Freitag is a ‘bag concept’. Freitag products are made
from original recycled materials – used truck tarps, car
seat belts, air bags and bicycle inner tubes. Because these
materials are tough, the products are too. Wonderful bags,
wallets, satchels, backpacks and overnighters are just part
of this super cool range – and there is not one product that
is the same as the other, because it’s made from an original
piece of tarp every single Freitag piece is an individual.
The first bag was sewn 19 years ago – a messenger bag,
sewn by hand from the old tarps. The early pieces were put
together in a Zurich apartment by the founders themselves,
two graphic designer brothers, Markus and Daniel Freitag.
They had been inspired by the multicoloured, heavy traffic
that hummed through the Zurich transit intersection in
front of their flat.
The bags were sold out of the brothers’ living room and
in 2006 they decided to sell their bags from a shop made
of freight containers – the ‘floors’ are home to more than
1600 individual bags for sale.
The Freitag Store Zurich is completely built from rusty,
recycled freight containers which were gutted, reinforced,
piled up and secured. Zurich’s first bonsai skyscraper: low
enough not to violate the city’s restriction on high-rise
buildings; high enough to produce vertigo.
Freitag has been growing rapidly ever since the first tarps
were washed in the brothers’ bathtub. The bag makers
have gone from two to 130 employees, from one to more
than 50 bag models and from one push cart to eight
Freitag stores and 400 resellers worldwide.
To visit the shop in Zurich West that fits so well with
the rest of the surrounding area is a treat – and if you can
leave the bonsai store without buying a bag, you are a
better person than this writer. •
Compiled by Bev Malzard – who has a new bag!
FactS and FigurES
Production: around 300,000 products per year
Materials used: 390 tonnes truck tarpaulins; 36,000
bicycle inner tubes; 80,000 car seat belts.
Products: Freitag Fundaments 40 models; Freitag
reference 17 models.
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