An interview with Isaac Reina, March 2021
The perfect combination - with Isaac Reina Bags - beautiful materials and the finest manufacturing with the right proportion and design.
In this interview with Isaac Reina we hear about his influences and how with wear and patina his wallets and bags make the piece more unique and personal - an extension of the owner.
The wearer: how they use, form and age your pieces seems so vital in the concept, joy and almost the ‘creation’ of the piece. Do you see a human or natural aspect to your work as they become an extension of the wearer and user?
One of the most important peculiarities of our products is the material. Until today, I still use pure and natural materials without artificial protection to keep a sensual appearance, pleasant to the touch. This brings the object very close to the user and it creates very intimate and unexpected attachments that generally make customers very happy. Obviously, the patina, which changes over time, is a personal and unique signature that the customer himself gives to the piece. Sometimes it is very difficult for us to convey this feeling in photos, without which the images seem to have flaws etc. in this world where everything is so perfect, apparently.
How has your background - growing up in Barcelona with its rich history in leather craftsmanship and architecture, studying fashion and architecture, to working at Hermès – formed and directed you in launching your eponymous line?
I grew up in Barcelona where modernist architecture has an invisible influence on people. Today I can see creativity and freedom there, moving forward without too many conventional brakes. Probably for this reason I moved to Paris, where I wanted to have a deeper, more technical and serious experience. I was extremely lucky to immediately work at Hermès, where it is undoubtedly the temple of true craftsmanship at the highest level.
Design and craftsmanship go hand in hand – how do the two disciplines mutually support and inform each other?
Design is a discipline that touches the dream. Us designers, we live in a world of the imagination where our goal is to imagine forms and usages, but we are always in our mind or on the paper "to see" as Giacometti said. When the drawing is sufficiently defined, we will see the craftsman who will make the first piece. It is a magical moment, where the exchange of techniques and subtleties becomes very stimulating. I draw a lot and with a lot of precision, the craftsmen love it, because they see that I arrive in their field and that we can speak the same language.
Your work epitomizes the perfect combination of beautiful materials, beautiful manufacturing with the right proportions and design. How do you design and what part does the items functionality play in the details and design?
From the start, I started manufacturing in Paris and buying my materials nearby, because I'm lucky to be in the right place and things are available here. In a way, I have always considered myself a small local business but with a global taste and outlook.
On the design side, I always look for the right balance between material, manufacture, proportions and design. But functionality is the main parameter, because the objects we create must be as useful and practical as possible, to give the famous pleasure of use that makes us feel good. Details are hidden or very subtle, because they are of practical use and not demonstrative. With exceptions of course.
Isaac Reina bags have a self standing almost architectural presence in their solidity, ingenuity in fabrication, folds and functionality. And like a building, used by a person, evolved by a person and their uses, weathered or patinated by the environment or user. How do you see and place your work within a wider design and anthropological environment?
I am aware that sometimes our products have a too simple, ingenious and austere presence that a priori would lack of finish etc; but to tell the truth, this attraction by the simplicity is a point in common with many people who adore this philosophy of simplicity. The pieces work very well with other elements, perhaps by this definition of simple, balance, harmony… What is interesting is the interaction of a silhouette when worn with a bag, for example, or the dialogue with other objects in an environment such as a table, desk etc.
What are the key influences and references for you and where is Isaac Reina as a brand heading next?
In these special days where we are working at home etc, and where time has taken on another dimension, I am working on other things that are different from my habits. We edited recently a little collection of objects for the office and the house, and I would like to continue offering other products in this category. At the same time, I’m taking the time to work on furniture that I adore, to change scale and techniques, and, even further, to design jewelry! In reality, all we love as designers is to create, to do something new, to invent... and that is what I love.
Studio and workshop photographs by Carrie Solomon from the book, Makers Paris by Kate Van Den Boogert and Carrie Solomon.