On May 1, the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan will reopen at a new downtown space designed by Renzo Piano. To commemorate the unveiling, the architect and Max Mara have created a limited-edition bag that mirrors the steel ribbing and graphic lines of the building’s bluish-gray facade.
As I have already suggetsed, the Whitney Bag, designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, evokes the design of the museum itself, with its ribbed leather exterior recalling the steel, tie-beamed façade of lower Manhattan’s new landmark, making a subtle yet striking statement.
The bag’s metal detailing were created using a special galvanic coating that echoes the building’s material and structural components. The buckles, inside pocket and signature snap hook were inspired by the building’s unique façade, while the bag’s contrast-red lining was chosen to mirror the striking use of primary colors characteristic of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s designs. Following the idea of the Whitney Museum blending seamlessly into the landscape of the rapidly-evolving Meatpacking District, the Whitney Bag has been designed to be an elegant-yet-versatile piece that easily complements any feminine wardrobe.
Limited to 250 specially-stamped and available in four colors—black, tan, bordeaux, and a limited-edition metallic blue-gray—the bag is versatile enough to be taken from boardroom to gallery party. It goes on sale at maxmara.com May 1, in conjunction with the Whitney’s opening.
Max Mara creative director Ian Griffiths told Style.com that nearly as much engineering went into the bag as went into the Whitney’s new building. “We have craftspeople in Tuscany with generations of experience,” he said. “But for this bag with Renzo, we had to develop new technology, where a laser beam precisely marks the piece of leather exactly where the ribs will go. It’s placed into a press that stamps out the shape, then those ribs are stitched through. The Whitney bag really pushed our craftspeople to their absolute limit.”
Maria Giulia Maramotti, Max Mara’s U.S. director of retail and granddaughter of founder Achille Maramotti, explained that the Whitney bag project is just one of an ongoing series of projects between her family’s business and the museum. “This partnership just makes so much sense,” she said. “That’s what I love about the Whitney, and about being in New York—the energy, and the idea that anything can happen.”
Max Mara has been working with the Whitney since its Pre-Fall 2015 collection, which cited Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and other stalwarts of the 1980s downtown art scene as inspirations. The Italian company also sponsored the museum’s the opening party on April 20.
The Whitney Bag was unveiled on April 22 at a private cocktail party held at the top of The Standard hotel, a block away from the Museum. In the picture below, taken during the cocktail party, Maria Giulia Maramotti, US Director of Retail for Max Mara, Elisabetta Trezzani, Ian Griffiths, Creative Director for Max Mara and Luigi Maramotti, Chairman of Max Mara.
But, does this story remind you something? An architect making a bag?
Such was the case when Frank Gehry designed the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris and then became part of the brand’s special “The Icon and the Iconoclasts: Celebrating Monogram”collaboration last fall. And such is the case this month as the new Whitney Museum by Renzo Piano is unveiled in New York — along with a new Whitney bag by MaxMara, a presenting opening sponsor.
MaxMara is not known for its bags (it’s known, generally, for its perfectly appropriate-with-a-slight-edge coats), so this was an interesting exercise… but are all the brands going to make the same exercice? Let’s see what happen!