We’re a pretty satisfied bunch, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t covetous. Sometimes we see things out there that we just must have. Cool Things We Want is an archive of those earthly desires.
Ever since glimpsing the latest bag design from Mitsi Notame, we’ve been dreaming up ideas of what to put inside it…and, beginning this week, we can finally make our fantasy a reality.
Leading up to the release of the new “portal tote“, we caught up with the Vancouver-based designer and creator behind Mitsi Notame, Robert Andow. Read our short Q&A below to find out a bit about his process and the inspiration behind the latest covetable addition to his line-up of whimsical, multi-textural and sentimental bags (plus get the full backstory on the brand’s name here)…
First of all, please tell me a bit about the inspiration for your new “portal tote”.
I suppose I was inspired to make a bag that isn’t wholly transparent but still incorporates the vinyl that I love so much. Having the transparent window as an accent makes it the focal point, whereas with my scribble tote I imagine it’s the thick wool applique. When you look at the bag straight on, the light shines right through it and it makes me think of an x-ray beam or a portal to somewhere.
You play around a lot with the juxtaposition of man-made and natural fabrics, as well as transparency… Tell me something cheeky/fun/unexpected that you envision being toted around in this bag.
I do like to imagine people having fun with what they allow to be glimpsed through the window. I’d love to see some trashy romance novels, or maybe a glimpse of the 12″s you just found at the record store. One of the first portal bags I made was sold to a patron whose young son immediately placed it over his head to look like a deep sea diver a la Jules Verne.
It’s super impressive that all of your bags are made by hand! I’m really intrigued by your process. Can you please give me the general rundown, from idea to completion? What are the steps and how long does it generally take to make one bag from start to finish?
I tend to fall in love with a material first, and then figure out how I can use it. The felt and vinyl I’ve been working with each have their own challenges and advantages in how they can be sewn, and that will inspire my design. I’m legally blind, so I like using big needles and big thread. I have a monster of a leather stitching machine that I use 90% of the time that gives me good visibility. When you sew with thick thread every stitch is visible, so I take my time to make sure it’s all cleanly done.
You can catch Andow and his line-up of bags in-person yourself by swinging by ‘The Local Gift Edit’ market, popping up at Decade Studio (88 West 8th Ave) from Dec. 2-4. (Head over to the Decade Studio Instagram for hours and more info, including who the eight other rad local participants are.) Can’t make it this weekend? Check the Mitsi Notame online shop for new stock later this week. Mucker Next Door (2295 East Hastings St) will also be restocking bag designs following the market dates.
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