Pentagram partners Angus Hyland and Jon Marshall help redesign the humble tote bag

The pair have collaborated with art supplies retailer Cass Arts and bag manufacturer Bags of Ethics to create 12 new designs that are as beautiful as they are useful.

Unveiled at the London Design Festival as part of a collection titled Bags of Art and Design, the range of tote bags features unique designs with bespoke pockets and artworks. Exhibited alongside prototypes, mock-ups and original artworks, the collaboration includes special edition Cass Art tote bags, which will also be available to purchase from selected stores later in the year.

Made from ethically sourced cotton, the reusable bags manufactured by Bags of Ethics are tailor-made by a workforce comprised of over 80% female staff. It all ties in nicely with Cass Art's philanthropic mission to "fill this town with artists", and with the help of creative director Angus Hyland and industrial designer Jon Marshall, the bags promise to be a well-designed and sustainable force for good.

“The new bags are an evolution from the very popular series of artist's colour totes that I first designed for Cass Art nearly twenty years ago," explains Angus. "They’re based on the idea of creating specific bags for specific tasks and are really an extension of the Cass Art retail experience – a wonderfully inspiring cross between a sweet shop and a hardware store."

Rather fittingly, the heart of each design is an A3 landscape bag. This is because they are specially sized to fit a Cass Art drawing pad. The bags also come with multiple pockets in the A4 – A7 sizes so that they can fit specialist art materials such as brushes, paint tubes and drawing pens. Further echoing their functionality, some of the bags even come screenprinted with silhouettes of these tools in order to mimic the walls of an artist's workshop.

"With this project, we had the chance to step into Cass Art's world of pure joy in making," says Jon. "The most successful aspect of the collaboration for me was the harmony we achieved between 3D design, material and form married with graphic design, print, proportion and colour, made possible through the dialogue between my team and Angus and his team as well as the extensive prototyping process with Bags of Ethics."

It's not just the cotton which has been responsibly sourced either. Each tote bag is printed with sustainable inks, while the Cass Art bag features the popular artist shades of Prussian Blue, Cerulean blue, and French Ultramarine. And it's this attention to detail which can be seen throughout the collection.

Smruti Sriram, chief executive at Bags of Ethics, comments: "It has been a real pleasure to zoom in on what makes the perfect bag for artists. Our production teams in India have worked collaboratively with Pentagram on precise design details and have given their own advice on repurposing colourful deadstock whilst positioning the screen print perfectly against the pocket panels.

"We are also delighted that our longstanding clients at Cass Art have chosen one of the twelve designs to be available for purchase by customers across selected stores later this year."

Cass Arts founder and CEO Mark Cass adds: "It’s great to be able to recognise the last twenty years' successful partnership between Cass Art and Pentagram and to celebrate one of our truly iconic Cass Art products.

"Our totes have been loved and worn with pride for many years, and we’re excited to welcome these beautiful new editions of our tote range – expertly constructed by the wonderful Bags of Ethics team. We look forward to ‘filling this town with totes!’ and a huge thank you to all involved."


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