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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite

Work / Publication

Melville Brand Design on a new book detailing the history of Samsonite

Munich-based design studio and brand strategists Melville Brand Design are known for delivering a strong sense of communication. The studio has garnered this reputation by working closely with clients to build on an individual story, paying particular attention to accessibility and sustainability. Most recently, the studio has designed a book detailing the history of the trusty Samsonite suitcase. The book is not just your regular timeline of history, it questions where a brand actually comes from and how branding forms the identity of future success, or otherwise.

“We believe in the power of true stories," Lars Harmsen, the creative director of Melville Brand Design tells It’s Nice That. The studio was approached by Samsonite after they’d seen the studio had designed an Adidas history book. With an emphasis on storytelling, research, conceptual engagement as well as an astute design approach, the designers combined all these factors to tell the story of Samsonite in an intriguing way. With the help of the writer Stuart Husband, who interviewed former managers while relaying his knowledge of the brand, Lars and his team pulled together to create Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite.

Not the usual It’s Nice That topic of discussion, Lars explains how revolutionary Samsonite have been in the suitcase industry. “Samsonite was always ahead,” he states. “I didn’t know and never even thought about it, but Samsonite were the first to put wheels on a suitcase.” The creatives also had the chance to visit a test centre in Belgium where they witnessed “huge machines simulating certain everyday scenarios”. One of these tests involved trialling the wheels on “an extremely long test ride that is literally the distance between the North Cape and Sicily," Lars remarks.

Samsonite was founded in 1910 in Denver Colorado by Jesse Shwayder. As a religious man, he named one of his first suitcases after Samson which evolved into the trademarked Samsonite in 1941. Without the use of an archive wholly dedicated to the history of the company, the creatives dug “very deep” into different sources to find photographs on “the most important luggage company in the world.” The book centres editorially on a collection of iconic suitcases that defines a moment in luggage history. “We call them ‘Milestone Suitcases’” says Lars who explicates how “these luggages have always been ahead of any other piece in their time. Samsonite have always been inventors and game-changers, so from there, it was easy to spin the story around those milestones.”

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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite

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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite

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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite

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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite

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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite

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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite

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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite

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Melville Brand Design: Journey of Discovery – The History of Samsonite