Design Philosophy - Materials vs. Form

Calila never started out as a leather studio. In fact, in early stages, Lindsey and I were both primarily wanting to design and do product development. As we drew and discussed and drew some more, gathered reference and then started prototyping, leather did ultimately stand out as the material of choice. But something came along recently that got us back to our roots of product development.

As we’ve continued to sell The Wanderer kit, I’ve been amazed and proud at the response of people commenting on the design. People seem to instantaneously recognize not only what the product is used for but how they would put it into practice themselves. Customers visit us at fairs or see us online and get that it is a tray, it folds completely flat so you have everything open for easy access. It’s smart design that we are very proud of.

But, leather is expensive. Really good quality leather goods, made in the U.S., especially Los Angeles where we make our products can be up to six times more expensive than Mexico and ten times more than China. And then the leather itself, top grain full hides of leather are very costly per square foot and don’t have a very high yield. That makes the final product very valuable but expensive for many.

However, our designs were never based around just leather. We have much respect for leatherworkers that have heritage dating back ten, twenty, sometimes even over a hundred years. They use classic techniques making designs that have been around for a long time. That isn’t us.

So when we launched the vinyl version of the Wanderer kit, something brought us back to our roots. It was this intrinsic feeling that it was always about the design and not the material, about the functionality and value added to people’s lives, not just a soft feel or a luxurious look. We always wanted to focus on clean simple designs that help people in some way. The Wanderer was born from a problem, and it is our attempt to solve it.

Even more importantly, I don’t believe there is a reason to release a product that doesn’t truly solve a problem in a way that hasn’t been done before. I know people that are leather workers, and they want to carry tradition, bring forward a torch into a new age. We are different. We want to create things from nothing, that haven’t been done before, and push design boundaries. It’s not better or worse, just different.

TOTAL HONEST MOMENT: We can’t craft leather better than people who have been doing it their whole life, and thus, we simply won’t compete on that aspect.

We’re here to compete on design, new products with a unique take.

We were originally called Calila Designs L.A. which was a bit of a mouthful. So we shortened to Calila. But we are still that at the heart: a design company that makes products for our Los Angeles lifestyle.

That’s why when we released the Celestial Vinyl line of The Wanderer kit, we have already had people that have purchased simply because they wanted the same value adding design at a lower price point. And that’s ok! Materials can’t be accessible at all price points, but we believe design can be.

So we are incredibly excited to continue to expand our line from our designs that really take off and resonate with people, pushing the envelope and moving product design forward.

And we have some great things in store.

What do you think, do you prefer leather goods or something else like vinyl or canvas? Let us know in the comments below!

And if you're curious, you can click here to see the Silver or Black Vinyl Wanderers

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