The original brief for Maharam accessories asked designers Konstantin Grcic, Hella Jongerius, and Jasper Morrison to design a bag that they would like to use themselves. The A-Pack by Leon Ransmeier continues that tradition and reflects the utility, thoughtful details, and uncompromising execution that’s come to define Maharam’s accessory offering.
Despite countless backpacks to choose from, there wasn’t an option on the market that met Ransmeier’s criteria. In designing his own with A-Pack, he prioritized functionality without sacrificing form. Material choice is integral to the design: a 24-ounce waxed cotton canvas sourced in Scotland was identified early on and used throughout the prototyping process. This heavyweight material is substantial enough that the backpack retains its shape whether empty or full and renders it just as attractive on the body as off.
Equally important is the handle position. By tapering the top of the bag, Ransmeier was able to align its apex and handle directly on the bag’s load-bearing anterior, meaning that the A-Pack doesn’t slump awkwardly when carried in hand like most backpacks do. Thus the A-Pack can be worn as a backpack or carried as a tote bag, making it equally appropriate for casual and formal uses.
While the canvas had many advantages in terms of volume and form, it presented its own challenges. Due to its density, it wasn’t possible to stitch multiple layers together, requiring some innovation in patternmaking. To minimize sewing, the main panel consists of a rectangular tube sewn in only one place, set on a rectangular base. Four internal pockets—smaller compartments suited to hold mobile phones, keys, and other compact essentials—are cleverly attached along with an industrial black zipper, while the bag’s center interior features a large compartment able to fit a laptop, apparel, and any additional necessities. In this way, all external stitching is eliminated with the intentional exception of four gusset tacks offering an easy hold at the mouth of the bag. In addition, these vertical gussets allow the backpack to fold easily when not in use.
This emphasis on seamlessness is also seen with the bag’s inwardly sewn spine, which creates an almost obscure stitched appearance. Despite the canvas’s density, internal French seams—a technique typically reserved for more delicate materials—was used to conceal raw edges and eliminate the need for further finishing. Wide 2" straps along the back connect via custom matte black parachute fasteners to narrower 1" straps below; both webbings feature the same weave structure for a uniform look.
Beginning in 2016, development of the backpack proceeded over the course of three years with several strategic refinements made following a dedicated period of trial and use. Offered in two multipurpose sizes, the A-Pack will be available in three colors—black, ivory, and lapis—through maharam.com and select retailers in October 2019.
About Leon Ransmeier
Leon Ransmeier is an American designer. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he founded his New York-based studio, Ransmeier Inc., in 2010. He has since designed furniture and interior products for clients including Arita 2016/, HAY, Herman Miller, and Mattiazzi. For the previous four years, Ransmeier has collaborated with Maharam on the design of its NeoCon installations in Chicago.