the messenger bag…de-technologized?

a timbuk2 family

a timbuk2 family

over the past few years, the messenger bag has established itself pretty well as a status symbol. i would say that the TIMBUK2 ‘classic messenger’ is to outdoorsy bobos as the birkin bag is to aspiring lindsay lohans.

with high-tech ‘stylistic utility’ features like 

  • “LTD Grip Fabric exterior in a never before seen 4 panel design
  • Waterproof liner
  • Coordinating Strap Pad
  • Quick-adjust side-cam shoulder strap
  • Extra-heavy-duty stitching
  • Internal organizer pockets and red key tether
  • Safety flasher attachment loop”

— the world of backpacks, especially this limited-edition classic messenger grip fabric seems to boast a science and technology of its own.  at $115, it better be infused with a whole new eco-schmeco-bio-proplanet-sustainable-extraterrestrial material as well.  

but what if we pared the messenger bag down to its basics?  what is its main function?  [to carry…? books…laptops…’messages’?]  instead, what if we could have a waterproof, structural, functional messenger bag…for less than $6?  one that a kid in a developing country could make, if she needed a backpack to carry her books to school, and all she could find was pieces of cardboard and plastic?


materials used:  1 yd vinyl [.5 yd black, .5 yard white], upholstery thread, museum board, sewing machine, sliver of velcro


encasing pieces of cut museum board in vinyl (like a sandwich)


sewing zigzag stiches as close to the edge of the board as possible


arduously sewing each face together


with all pieces attached rather floppily


laid out in plan before constructing the rectangular prism


the tada! image


rear view


final touch: a sprig of velcro


things that i wish i had done in hindsight:

> been able to find a clear material, to showcase the interior [the chipboard/museumboard could have drawings, paintings, infinite customizable opportunities]

> sewn on pockets everywhere

> longer strap….perhaps adjustable?  explored more box shapes?

> not used vinyl… PVC = carcinogen = BAD   —–instead, use found materials, i.e. tarp/plastics/product packaging.  a la those ubiquitous-in-art-school individual recycled freeway FREITAG BAGS.




2 Responses to “the messenger bag…de-technologized?”

  1. 1 inmexico

    Tiff I am impressed! I like the black and white combo..

    Can you bring it to studio sometime?

  2. You actually made one? Well done!

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