Based on the idea of biomimicry, Solid Gray by Einhoven-based designers Lijmbach Leeuw & Vormgeving is not your ordinary backpack.
After working together on various projects during their study at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Jasper de Leeuw and Herman Lijmbach decided to continue on as a design duo under the name of Lijmbach Leeuw & Vormgeving.
Now the duo have created a foldable backpack, which combines a lightweight material never before used in a consumer product - PP-C or Polypropylene Block Copolymer - with an ingenious folding system and hard outer shell.
"The idea for Solid Gray stems from one of our school projects," says De Leeuw. "We wanted to use a new structure to create a light-weight piece of protective luggage."
Their designs are often linked to biomimicry "as a lot a lot of design principles and technical solutions already exist somewhere around us."
Looking to crustaceans, armadillos and woodlice for inspiration, the duo were enamoured by the way these creatures use a clever combination of material, structure and repetition to create a stiff shell from just a tiny amount of material.
After creating a first prototype from aluminium and polypropylene, Solid Gray began to take form and public interest started to grow. "But before producing the finished product we had to create a staggering amount of prototypes. We were convinced all technical details could be integrated in the same material: locks, clasps and sliders are all cut and folded just like the rest of the backpack."
Based at the Klokgebouw in Eindhoven, the designers find themselves surrounded by other creatives, some of which were able to aid them in their design process: "We can tinker around with something in the morning, then take a look at the prototype after lunch."
After calculating the cost of making the backpack from aluminium and polypropylene would be too high, an alternative with the same lightweight yet durable quality was searched for. A plastic sheet material seemed the answer and the duo stumbled upon an extremely lightweight polymer (PP-C) which was both strong and flexible. But as Solid Gray is the first consumer product to integrate this sheet material in this form "colours are still a problem. You can get any colour as long as its white or technical grey," hence the name.
Now the backpack is made from a single sheet of the material in which grooves are made for the folding lines. The tough polypropylene is then folded into its final shape and all locks and clasps are integrated ensuring the backpack's original, clean yet rather unusual look.
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