Carl Friedrik Sheds Light on Design Influences and the Company’s Rebranding

Launched as Oppermann London in 2012, the men’s leather goods retailer known for it’s craftsmanship and thoughtful design sources and sells its handmade products directly to customers via their online portal and through a bricks and mortar location in London. Offering products of the highest quality for attainable prices, they pride themselves on a personal need and desire to make products they themselves would love to buy. After a recent trademark dispute for the Oppermann name, they’ve rebranded as Carl Friedrik where they continue to create what they call “modern tools for success.” Adhering to traditional methods and craftsmanship, they are able to offer leather that is natural, untreated, and ages beautifully. In other words, they offer a great leather experience, which to some is a scarcity in the market.

 www.carlfriedrik.com

1.) How did the idea of Opperman come about? How do you select the items you’re going to design? What are your influences? Please explain the process.

It all started with us trying (and failing) to find the right laptop case back in 2012; and the realisation that a great leather experience was becoming something of scarcity in the market. Niklas and I then founded Carl Friedrik (Oppermann at that time) out of a personal need and desire to make products we and our close ones would love to buy. We were looking for modern designs, natural and high quality materials, produced to a high standard. And we wanted to offer these products at attainable prices.

In terms of what goes into the design process, we take our inspiration from architecture, contrasting structures. To us, less is more and form follows function. We don’t just make good-looking products, we create products which fit a purpose. Every component that goes into making an Oppermann product is individually sourced or developed by us, making it possible to deliver a superior end-product. We also don’t work with seasonal styles or products which gives us the chance to make small improvements with each production of the same item. Once we have a product in our range, we look to to keep it in our range for years and keep making it better.

Carl Friedrik's Bolton and Hanbury Bags
Carl Friedrik’s Bolton and Hanbury Bags

2.) In August of 2014 you launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund your transition in production hoping to eliminate the middlemen who diminished your efforts to provide great quality whilst being affordable. With 120 backers pledging £28,545, a whopping £8,545 over your goal, tell us what led you to starting a Kickstarter campaign. What was your reaction when you met and passed your goal? Would you do it again?

Meeting our target was a great feeling, as we saw this as a confirmation that our new business model could become successful in the time after the campaign. It was also good to see customers enjoying the transparency and also reading about where products are made, who made them and so on.

We have currently no plans for another campaign.

3.) With a business model that drives customers to your online web shop to purchase your products, you do have one bricks and mortar store in London. Do you plan to open up any more in either Europe or the US in the future?

As a luxury accessories brand working mainly with leather, we want to be able offer our customers a chance to see our products first-hand, to smell and touch the leather, see the finishing and hear the stories. This was the reason behind our decision to open a physical store. Having multiple stores would mean staying even more connected with our customers on an international scope, better understanding their needs and faster implementing their feedback. So, as long term goal, we are definitely considering opening more stores.

4.) Please give a short answer for each of the following:

Favorite Sports Car: Porsche

Favorite Fragrance: Do not wear fragrance

Favorite Musician: Not really sure to be honest

Favorite Travel Destination: Mountain destinations, with hiking routes and great views

Guilty Pleasure: Home cooked Parmigiana

Biggest Fear: I wouldn’t call snakes my favourite thing in the world.

Favorite Movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Biggest Regret: Not going for that 10k run this morning

Favorite Hobby: Urban gardening

5.) With several great pieces in your current collection, which is your favorite? What is your favorite since the companies inception?

Our all time favourite has to be the Vallance; it is practical, very sleek and easy to carry, but still versatile and beautiful in design. And with its large leather panels, the leather will develop a beautiful patina.

Carl Friedrik's Vallance Briefcase
Carl Friedrik’s Vallance Briefcase

6.) If you weren’t a leather goods designer, what would you want to do? Why?

I would love to build or have built my own airplane. I studied industrial design and material science and I am still fascinated with mechanisms and with how different pieces can fit together.

7.) List three key accessories every man should own.

A good briefcase, a quality watch, a leather wallet

8.) Lastly, what are you currently working on and what can we expect to see from you in the future? 

As you might have noticed, we have recently undergone rebranding, changing our name from Oppermann to Carl Friedrik. Alongside the new name, we have also launched a new website and a modernised visual identity to this transition.

As part of our new direction, we will also introduce a new collection made for the urban commuter and business traveller. The collection will feature new product categories, new materials and new, smart functionality. It will be highly functional, yet keeping a high-end look. We’re using a heavy duty nylon as the main material, leather detailing and custom made titanium hardware.

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Kyle Johnson

Kyle Johnson is a writer, web designer and former senior editor for ODDA magazine, a glossy 500+ page high fashion magazine. In addition to his work for ODDA, he is also a freelance writer for LAB A4 and a creative director for various projects across various industries where he specializes in branding, identity and visual strategy. He is also the founding editor of PLOY.

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