I seldom buy accessories. I tend to use the same bag day in, day out, avoiding the hassle of having to transfer things from one place to another.

I appreciate a well-designed bag made with quality materials. I prefer minimalist, classic designs and don’t care much for trends. Even better if the item was produced in small quantities.

I shudder at the idea of toting something covered in monograms. I don’t care if it costs 1,000 Euro and screams Louis-Vuitton, Gucci or Goyard. It’s ugly.

Travel accessories inspired by architecture

This is the design philosophy of Prógono, which was founded in 2013 by a Brazilian-Spanish duo Diego Hebling and Anna Sanz. The former is an architect while the latter has a post-graduate degree in civil engineering.

I recently came across their minimalist bags when I was in nuovum, which is in the El Raval neighbourhood and round the corner from Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona). The geometric and subtly coloured bags by Prógono caught my attention, in particular, a slim grey backpack.

Prógono backpack

It has been more than 15 years since I carried a backpack other than for hiking. I wasn’t sure if I would be too ‘old’ to be walking around town and going into the office with a backpack.

Then again, backpacks seem to be all the rage these days, even in Brussels – I see hipsters and ‘Eurocrats’ carrying Fjallravens or Herschels on their shoulders. The Guardian confirms that backpacks have become cool again, though I wonder when were they ever cool in the first place as I’ve always thought of them as being functional.

I eventually bought the grey backpack which is from Prógono’s new Planalto collection. The design was inspired by “the contrast between the hilly relief and the quiet plain of the Planalto (plateau) of Brasilia, the presidential palace and other buildings and sculptures of the Brazilian capital.”

The design of this leather backpack may be minimalist but I feel that it has everything that I’d need for everyday use. There’s a spacious inner zipped pocket and flexible pleats that allow me to expand the bag to stuff more things into it. My favourite feature is that there is no closure at the top of the bag – instead, the design is such that the top closes firmly when you pull the slightly elasticated straps together to put the bag onto the shoulders. How clever!

I was surprised during the initial days of using this backpack – it felt like I was carrying barely anything. I’ve been using totes and cross-body bags for the past decade and have come to accept that it’s inevitable that I’d have a sore shoulder and neck if I’m out and about with a book, camera and wallet in my bag for an entire day. Not anymore now that I have this backpack. I’m thinking that maybe I should get another backpack for variety in my wardrobe 🙂

Prógono backpack

This is the first of a short series to showcase fashion apparel and accessories made in Barcelona and/or designed by emerging talents in the city.

In the photos above, I was wearing a navy-black Manoush woollen sweater over a printed Madame à Paris skirt featuring an old hand-drawn map of the City of Light. Both of which happened to be by French designers.

About nuovum: I had previously seen some of the designs curated by nuovum during a pop-up at Maison Lelook, a fashion consultancy firm in Barcelona, and wanted to check out what else the boutique had in store.

When I entered the shop, I immediately recognised Jose Miguel Sevilla, founder of nuovum, with his big beard, well-coiffed hair and dark glasses. I didn’t know if he would recognise me from the media preview at Maison Lelook and didn’t introduce myself. But he remembered and started telling me more about some of the designers whose works are on retail in his shop.

When I finally decided to buy the bag after much humming and hawing, he kindly gave me a small discount. So I thought I return the favour with this little mention here. If you’re in the vicinity of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, I hope that you’ll have the chance to check out Jose Miguel’s boutique.

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3 replies on “Made in Barcelona I: Progono backpack

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