Marco Campomaggi: «Time does not diminish our products.»
When Marco Campomaggi tells you about his work, his words conjure up a fairytale world. He enthuses about the smell of fresh leather, describes how he roams flea markets or tracks down small treasures in the most unexpected locations. Occasionally lapsing into silence as he pursues a line of thought, he absentmindedly tugs at the cowskin that covers the seat of his dark brown armchair and gazes out the window at the distant horizon. Considering the quantity of philosophical cogitations this Italian exudes straight off the cuff, we half expect to espy a Teleprompter somewhere in the vast blue skies. Marco Campomaggi has a calm, deep voice, and you find yourself wishing to hear his wise words about the essence of time piped in voice-over to counterbalance the message of harsh reality encountered each morning upon looking into the bathroom mirror.
Next to the beautiful lines that, with time, decorate a face, there are other things that only unfold their charm as time goes by. The older we get, the more abundant our wealth of stories and memories, anecdotes, ideas, and thoughts become. They are what make us truly beautiful – beautiful in the most real sense of the word.
Campomaggi’s products embody the selfsame principle. Time does not diminish them; to the contrary, it actually adds to their value. This is underscored by the brand’s current slogan: “Il tempo non toglie, ma dà.” Marco Campomaggi is dedicated to creating products that are truly timeless.
I find used objects inspiring. Things that clearly show they have a story to tell.
Frequently, Marco Campomaggi buys old leather work bags at flea markets or thrift shops and inspects them carefully to determine exactly which aspects are functional, and which mere frills. “Nowadays so many things are made that are completely meaningless,” he deplores. Consequently, he is neither overly interested in what the competition does nor what the current fashion trends are. His research consists mainly in keeping his eyes open and attuned to everyday life. While he drinks his morning coffee in one of the little neighborhood cafés, he observes people whose style he likes and imagines what kind of bag would make them look even better. He then draws on these musings for inspiration.
It’s not as if I’m doing anything extraordinary. I just create bags.
Although not a few celebrated designers behave as if their designs were of vital importance, this attitude baffles Campomaggi. Ever a pragmatist, he says: “Bags are made to transport things from one place to another. If I can improve their look and make somebody happy in the process, so much the better.”
Campomaggi himself is not interested in brand articles – as a rule he buys anonymous items such as army surplus or worker’s clothing for himself – nor does he think his products should be bought just because they have become fashionable. He would prefer his bag to be seen as a sign of individuality, the ability to decide for oneself.
When what I put on makes me feel as if I’ve managed to extract something good out of a mountain of infinite possibilities, then I know I have chosen the right article.
The world of fashion, according to Marco Campomaggi, poses the danger that it can stop people from making their own choices and lead them to blindly follow what the latest trend is. “Rather than choosing based on what they like best, people buy what they think others will rate highest.” This is detrimental to an individual sense of taste, a trend he finds alarming.
At Campomaggi’s, the liberty of not slavishly following every fashion trend is a given. Something they never take liberties with, however, is quality. “Our customers expect a certain character and a natural look,” sums up Campomaggi. The small company still uses the same leather to manufacture bags that it did when Campomaggi first started. As a team, he and his wife have developed a procedure using only vegetable oils to treat the leather that creates their distinctive coloring. In truth, the models only display minimal changes from year to year. With almost no frills, they have a no-nonsense, authentic look about them. And, besides being very similar in shape and size, they are usually brown, olive-green or black.
Quality for me defines itself in four aspects: material, idea, execution, purpose.
As a designer, Marco Campomaggi pays utmost attention to the materials and the craftsmanship that go into making a new model. Even so, he is convinced that quality is not a tangible matter. In his opinion, a customer’s expectations will always base in how they have lived their life. The expectations we have are formed by our personal history.
I guess the way I started producing bags was kind of hippie. I was light-hearted and enthusiastic.
While fellow students were busy trying to find out what they were going to do with their lives, he was busy making his bags. The question of his future settled itself without him even noticing. And so a brand was established with products created out of a passion for things from the past, a quest for timelessness, and a naturalness that all reflect the creator’s character and philosophy.
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