Anyone who has followed our story from the beginning will know that over the past eight years we have collaborated with a whole host of talented designers and exciting brands to create bold, bright and brilliant bags for our fans all over the world. This week sees the launch of our latest joint effort, this time with Brazilian shoe brand Melissa. From day one we’ve only ever worked with people who we admire and who share our interests, Melissa is no exception. Inspired by, designed and made in Brazil, their shoes and accessories are all made from their own iconic Melflex material which is 100% PVC and vegan-friendly. This collaboration features our first ever non-leather satchel; our timeless shape meets Melissa’s iconic raw material and the result is a bag that looks brilliant but also promises to stand the test of time.
We wanted to find out more about Melissa, how their story began and how the brand has evolved and blossomed but managed to stay true to its original values and principles over time. We grabbed fifteen minutes with Edson Matsuo, Creative Director at Melissa to ask him everything we wanted to know about the footwear brand who decided to do things a little differently.
The Cambridge Satchel Company is the first bag brand that Melissa has collaborated with. Why did you decide to make a bag range and why did you think we were the right fit?
We were looking at Melissa to launch an irreverent plastic interpretation of a traditional leather bag. The Cambridge Satchel Company couldn’t have been a better partner. You are a key reference for quality leather bags, but also have the same irreverent spirit as us.
Here at The Cambridge Satchel Company we are passionate about quality craftsmanship and make all of our bags here in the UK in our own workshop. Can you tell us about where you make the Melissa products?
All the Melissa products are developed and produced here in Brazil in our very own factory. The Melissa x CSC satchel has been made using our iconic Melflex material. It is based on The Cambridge Satchel Company’s original satchel but this new version has been created using a mould and from 100% PVC.
We focus on quality and simplicity with our designs, both of which are evidently important for Melissa, too. Can you tell us about your design process?
We work in a very collaborative way. We believe that working with a diverse team creates innovative, unpredictable and surprising projects.
How important is sustainability for you in your design work?
It’s not like a formula, but first of all the designer needs to a have clear about his role as a citizen and then he would be able to develop only values that could be recognised by the costumers in a simple and clear way. As John Maeda said in this book “The Laws of Simplicity: “ simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful”, so being sustainable is about being simple, it’s about delivering to the customer what he is expecting without using a crystal ball, understanding their histories and transforming dreams into desirable products and also noting that the transformation needs to start in the designer himself.
The footwear industry usually works with a large variety of materials to produce a new shoe, making it almost impossible to recycle the parts. As a designer I consider a product’s entire life-cycle during its creation. I like to create shoes that can be dissembled at the end of their life so that the original materials can be reused.
Here at Melissa as we only use Melflex, we can fully reform a shoe into another as we only that one material; it is a material that can be recycled many times without losing its original characteristics. I call it ‘state of the art recycling’.
We love the Melissa rubber – and its distinctive bubble-gum smell! What is it like as a material to work with?
It’s a completely versatile material to make all our design dreams possible! Its limitation is restricted to the imagination and also it’s a recyclable material that allows the Sustainable Design. The challenge is basically to be the leaders in a category that didn’t exist before Melissa.
Colour is really important to us here at The Cambridge Satchel Company and we love the colours that you choose for your shoe collections. Where do you get your inspiration from?
We’re absolutely passionate about colours too. We usually choose the colours analysing deeply the style and the goals of each shoe. It means that, basically, understanding it’s design, message, meaning, reasons to exist and its own movement.
What has been the most exciting career moment you’ve had to date?
The most exciting moment is when I see a smile on the face of someone from the team that I work with, absolutely surprised by the beauty of what we’ve done together.
Lastly, all the eyes of the world have been on Brazil this year with the World Cup and the Olympics (we have been glued to our screens!). What has this meant for you, living in Brazil?
Brazil is not a country, it is almost a continent. We are privileged to receive immigrants from all over the world, so we have a mixture of different cultures and ethnicities, and even better than that, we all speak the same language. However, we also stay true to our regional culture, which is a huge treasure and really sets us apart. It’s been a wonderful year for Brazil to see so many visitors from around the world coming to visit for this event and celebrating with us.