Designer Particolare: Petra Langerova

All the Small Things: Object Particolare’s Designer on Creating the Vitti Bag

The first designer of Object Particolare, Petra Langerova, is unwavering when it comes to the level of craft and immaculate finish she demands in her product. In reaction to the age of excess and social media Petra was inspired to create quietly beautiful and timeless leather goods. But there’s more to the brand than the bags, and who better than her daughter, Agnes, part of the constantly-connected Generation Z, to ask about her inspirations, the making-of and why this bag appeals across the decades.
Agnes: Let’s start at the beginning. I think everyone is wondering what the name Object Particolare means.

Petra: The name comes from the way we see beauty, which is that every woman has beauty in their own individual and ‘particular’ way. It also refers to the minutiae, the small characteristics about a person or an object that you want to zoom-in on and that make it unique. In an age when there are lots of sweeping statements and outlandish trends I tend to focus on the more intimate, smaller moments that I believe are beautiful.

A: Is that also how you approach the product itself?

P: Yes, I create products with serious attention to detail. I genuinely believe that is what sets the design apart and makes a difference. I originally studied architecture which gave me a solid understanding on the importance of space, shape and volume when I’m creating.

A: You studied fashion too, right?

P: Yes, at Parsons when I moved to New York. I was studying there when you were just born.

A: How has the world today, and specifically its relationship with product and image, affected your design?

P: Today, we look at objects as façades, straight-on and flat. We don’t think of the sides, what’s behind them, about the interior or, often, even how they function – it feels like everything is created purely to be an image on Instagram. This made me want to do the opposite and think much harder about the 3-D object. How do I carve out an interior space? So, I started by making paper models of the bag first.

A: Would you usually draw or sketch your designs before that?

P: Yes. I did do some sketching and traditional drawing but mostly I just modelled my vision directly out of paper. And the funny thing was when I came to a factory for the first time, I realised that paper modelling is the very beginning of the bag making process so I had already got to that step.

A: Why is it that designing something simple and minimal is oftentimes harder than the opposite? Is there more attention to detail?

P: When you make simple things, they are very truthful. And there is really nothing to hide.

A: Everything is out in the open.

P: And everything shows, so the craftsmanship has to be perfect, the material has to be flawless, and every little stitch, every little detail is completely amplified and visible. Simplicity to me is the highest level of aesthetics.

A: Who would you want to see wearing this bag?

P: I’d like to see as many people as possible wearing the bag. Everybody deserves beautiful things. But I do have my secret idols…

A: Who?

P: Rei Kawakubo. Great female designers like Phoebe Philo. That's in a dream world. But as I said I’m so happy for any woman to wear this bag. Ideally, I'd personally deliver every bag by hand so I can complete the entire journey from design, through to customer.

A: How is the brand relevant to me or to my generation?

P: Object Particolare is very sustainable - making things well and making them to last is my top priority which I think is very important to your generation. I also think space and silence are luxurious items today, so to make yourself standout in a way that isn’t necessarily loud - in what you wear - is very appealing. I always think the attention should be on the woman, not her fashion choices.

A: So, the bag isn’t a precious and out-of-reach object?

P: Yes, and it has to be modern, to answer today’s needs and the life we live, no matter how pretty it is. The reason my bag is lightweight is because I know you'll put a lot of things in it – the modern woman is going to run around from morning to night, and there's no time to change, so it has to work all day long. But from an aesthetic point of view, I do think there is a certain timelessness to the design that you can use and reuse, and that to me feels cross-generational.

A: I think it also appeals to the "anti-consumer". I mean, I would go out and buy this bag if I know it will last me a life time. Finally, mum, what is beauty to you?

P: True authenticity.