Surprisingly chic clutches built from Lego bricks
Designer also transforms childhood toy into cufflinks, wallets and brooches.
Legos have long been a source material for designers of all ages, and those who love the world’s favorite plastic brick-building toy have grown up to create an endless stream of fashion and design objects that include Lego furniture, kitchen islands, jewelry and art.
But turning Legos into sophisticated objects of beauty isn’t as easy as it looks. Poland-based Agnieszka Biernacka uses Lego bricks to create fun, surprisingly chic clutches that manage to be both playful and remarkably wearable for grown-ups.
“I [try] to forget that bricks are a toy when designing,” Biernacka told From The Grapevine. “All I want to see [are] the shapes and colors.” While some designs – like her popular multi-colored clutch – highlight the toy origins of the bag, she says she is “most pleased when this is not the first impression. Keeping the designs as simple as possible helps a lot.”
A classically trained violist who played in orchestras for a decade before starting her own business as a stay-at-home mom, Biernacka says the idea for Agabag struck while playing with Lego bricks with her daughter. She noticed Lego belt buckles from Staten Island brothers Dee and Ricky Jackson in a Marc Jacobs runway show several years ago and while doing web research realized that jewelry and accessories made from Lego bricks were a popular niche. But she said she found much of the available products “poorly made, poorly designed, poorly photographed and extremely basic,” and decided to experiment, first with jewelry, before moving on to handbags.
“I want to believe I am not obsessed with bricks, but since I work with them almost every day, it's natural that I relate almost everything around to bricks,” she said of the original Lego pieces that she uses to make each piece. Biernacka’s faithfulness to the Lego palette does have one shiny exception: she gold-plates select Lego pieces to use as accents on some of the clutches. “The gold plated bricks are though something that – as far as I know – nobody else makes,” she said, “even the Lego company.”
She says that finding the right tools to give the bags a streamlined look has been a process of trial and error. “Designing the clutches I wanted to minimize the use of anything [other] than the bricks [to] make them look as simple as possible,” she said. She drills holes in the bricks (a small clutch requires making more than 1,000 holes), then connects them with durable silicone string to form the handbag shape, lining the interiors.
Biernacka also makes heart-shaped brooches, wallets, cufflinks for men and lamps with Lego shades, but says that she’s struggling to keep up with orders on the clutches that she sells to people who stop her on the street to ask her where she got her clutch or brooch, as well as web-based customers primarily in the U.S. and Asia.
“When I have a clutch with me I get tons of questions,” she says. “I cannot remember how many times I’ve had to sell a heart brooch.”
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