Paper is alive and well at Paperlux, a Hamburg-based design studio that specializes in paper etchings and paper-based packaging for high end clients like Hermès, Volkswagen and Alexander McQueen. Founded in 2006, the studio has grown into a team of 11 designers with a passion for paper. “We love paper not only because it is sustainable and has been around forever,” writes Paperlux’s Valentina Freischem in an email. “It is also wonderful because the different grammatures, different coatings and feels of the surface can transport so many messages.”
For their latest paper-based project, Freischem says, they wanted to experiment with the material outside of the branding world: “We wondered, why not make a fashion accessory out of paper? Something that we can actually carry around and show to the world?”
And so into a fashion world obsessed with electronic wearables and 3-D printed fashion, the charmingly analog Petit Fou clutches were born. Made from paper folded into a textured pattern, the purses look like geodesic domes turned fancy evening wear.
The designers sourced the paper from Fedrigoni, a paper manufacturing company in Italy, and folded it by hand in their Hamburg studio. They glued a magnet inside the flap so that the clutch closes easily and that’s it–simple as they come. Freischem says the paper purses are sturdy enough to hold your belongings because of two factors: the coating that Fedrigoni used for the paper and the studio’s unique folding technique, which she says is their little secret.
But how durable are the clutches, really? “Honestly: Paper is paper. It is obviously a lot less sturdy then, lets say, leather,” Freischem says. “You can however take the clutch out with your dress to match to a fancy event or to a glamorous occasion more than once–granted you don’t sit on it or spill a bottle of wine over it.” Singing and dancing in the rain, however, is only recommended for very special occasions. “But that, we think, is part of the fun: you can buy several clutches in different colors and match them to your outfits without ruining your bank balance.”
At around $26, a Petit Fou clutch costs more than your typical disposable object, but it’s also a lot better looking. Put it this way: it will be less expensive than your dinner at that glamorous event, and you’ll get to enjoy it at least one more time. If the thought of your purse deconstructing after a couple of wears doesn’t distress you too much, head over to Petit Fou to see all six colors.