Tucked away in a secluded garden on top of the hill of Montmartre is the joint home-studio of Sébastien Cordoleani, sole designer and craftsman at Archipel, a new Parisian brand presenting a range of innovative and elegant leather bags.
Sébastien, an industrial designer, holds a dominant presence within the French design scene. After having trained at the ENSCI – Les Ateliers, for more than ten years he has profited from major collaborations with French furniture designers such as Tolix, Moustache, and Ligne Roset. He also continues to develop research projects with prominent craft workshops both locally and across the globe, most notably at Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto and the Villa Noailles in Hyères.
I was lucky enough to visit Sébastien in his studio last week to view the current collection, sneak a peek at some up-and-coming ideas, as well as discuss his intricate manufacturing processes and ambitions for the future.
The unique concept behind the Archipel design is that each bag is constructed by hand from a single, seamless piece of leather, which is held together by the handle. Sébastien dreamed up this original idea in 2012, during a residency at Isola Comacina on Lake Como, resulting from travel needs for a simple, functional bag. The idea was then followed by three years of careful reflection and one year of design development, all leading up to the release of the first range earlier this year.
Purity of shape is encouraged by the natural curve of the leather, which is hand selected nearby Place de la République and then cut at Emporte-Pièce du Marais. The intricately cut flat forms are then transported back uphill to Montmartre, where they are debossed with the brand’s logo, folded in to place, and finished with solid brass buttons.
The full aniline French leather is vegetable tanned in Italy over long periods using natural agents such as oak, chestnut, and mimosa tannins, and proudly displays the variations and irregularities of each hide. The pieces slowly develop a loving patina over time, creating a truly unique character. The tanning and production processes also result in beautifully supple leather, which plays an important role in the shaping, opening, and closing of each bag.
Keeping the manufacturing and material selections local ensures the integrity of the product whilst fulfilling Sébastien’s own ethos of creating sustainable, handmade products here in Paris.
The first collection from Archipel presents seven different styles of bags, each in three different colors; Nature, Chestnut, and Black. The seamless construction also allows the customer to specify a different color leather for the handle.
Whilst this first release from Archipel only offers handbag and briefcase-style bags, Sébastien is currently in the process of working out the complexities of further styles, including backpacks and totes/shoppers. The colour range for the leathers will also be expanded in the near future to include moody reds, classic tans, as well as an eye-catching two-tone marble painted leather. Somewhere down the track we may even see a multi-faceted brand incorporating furniture and other objects.
Plans to establish a retail presence in Paris are in the works, however for the time being, Archipel works on an order-by-order basis, so if you are in Paris and eager to get your hands on one of these unique bags, flick Sébastien an email, and of course keep an eye on Archipel’s Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date!
- Discover the work of more local designers in Paris with this post from Kasia Dietz.
- Guys – need some new threads to pair with your Archipel bag? Check out Tristan’s top three French menswear brands.
- Montmartre has long been an artists haven, but few know about Le Musée de Montmartre. INSIDR uncovers the gallery, which displays works by artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani, as well as features beautiful surrounding gardens.
Written by Tristan Treeby for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Véronique Huyghe & Mario Simon Lafleur. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.