New exhibition celebrates ten years of innovative leather accessories from Tsatsas
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the label, ‘Tsatsas. Past, Present, Future’ at the Deutsches Ledermuseum in Offenbach, Germany, tells the story behind Esther and Dimitrios Tsatsas’ multidisciplinary approach to leather goods
Founded in 1917 in Offenbach, Germany, the Deutsches Ledermuseum – the German leather museum – has since collected almost 30,000 objects, retracing the history of leather goods for more than six millennia (the oldest is an Egyptian container dating from the fourth millennium BC). Starting this month, however, a new exhibition explores a thoroughly more contemporary take on this ubiquitous material, celebrating the work of young German accessories brand Tsatsas on its tenth anniversary.
Titled ‘Tsatsas. Past, Present, Future,” the exhibition promises a “retrospective view of the past that merges fluidly into the present,” bringing together pieces that define the progressive approach to design by Esther and Dimitrios Tsatsas (husband and wife duo also organized the exhibition). Having founded their label in 2012, the past decade has seen the designers hone a vision that is both unconventional and timeless, informed by near-architectural precision. Indeed, Tsatsas collaborated with David Chipperfield Architects on a travel suitcase (apparently the only one Chipperfield himself uses for travel) and industrial designer Dieter Rams on the brand’s ‘931’ handbag, which won a Wallpaper* Design Award for Best Late Bag. The designers themselves call Tsatsas “the perfect balance between function, aesthetics and execution”.
Inside ‘Tsatsas. Past, Present, Future’ at the Deutsches Ledermuseum
The exhibition takes a personal approach, tracing the foundations of Tsatsas through ephemera that tell the story of the brand, from leather-making tools, in-process samples and deconstructed handbags to their composite pieces, behind-the-scenes photographs and personal memories. (a handwritten post-it from the exhibit reads “context over dogma”). ‘Handcrafted’, ‘Question Everything’ and ‘Down to the Smallest Detail’ are the names of some of the different organizing sections, the latter exploring Tsatsas’ commitment to sustainability, a principle deeply rooted in its philosophy. Here, that’s celebrated with a demonstration of the brand’s various recycled materials – from brass hardware to cardboard packaging – as well as showcasing the high-quality natural resources that make up each of its accessories, which are built to last for centuries. decades (visitors are encouraged to reach out and touch a Scandinavian calfskin).
At the center of the exhibit is a kinetic installation titled “Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear,” a transparent glass box in which various Tsatsa props circulate around a looping track. Conceived to underline the open approach of the designers – they insist on the fact that the exhibition has neither beginning nor end – the various objects, created between 2012 and 2022, are not classified chronologically, nor hierarchized. “Staged in a purely intuitive way, the 32 different objects merge through their monochrome presentation into a symbol of the visual conciseness of the Tsatsas,” describe the exhibition notes.
Elsewhere, visitors can view a film created for the exhibition which provides insight into the local family leather workshop where Tsatsas produces some of its accessories – in operation for over 40 years – while another section titled “1 +1=3” explores some of her many collaborations, including the aforementioned projects with Chipperfield and Rams, as well as Munich-based jewelry designer Saskia Diez (these collaborations allow designers to “think outside the box and leave their own zone of comfort”, as described in the notes). An accompanying book, published with bilingual German and English text, features essays by Chipperfield and Rams, as well as texts by Wallpaper* China editor Yoko Choy, design theorist Markus Frenzl, and Esther and Dimitrios Tsatsas Themselves – a collaborative tome that encapsulates Tsatsas’ multidisciplinary approach. §