⟨ Misc ⟩

OBSCURA × Island workbench bag collection

Spreading the warmth through sewing.

Words / Jas Tse
Photography / Kimio Ng
Translation / Ian Tsang
淡淡的灰,微微的粉紅,是一種曖昧的天色,似是日落時夕陽灑在水泥地面的色調。素淡,而不單調。哪管唸設計的朋友調侃說,那是白平衡失調的灰,我卻依然喜歡這種不平常的色彩。

第一次介紹「島中坊研」已經是兩年多前,那時他們剛從線上轉至實體店,在長洲開了店面,回到這個二人的原鄉。從前在屋簷下默默地、認真做的兩個人,有了一個安身之處,能夠與人分享,同時像個小圈圈,連接著島上的人。Steven負責店務營運,Amy包辦設計與生產,每個包包由她親手縫製,一些小工序就由島上婦女們處理,然後重回她手上作最後修正,一個充滿手作溫度的手工包包才正式完成。這兩年間看見更多人使用他們的產品,設計也愈來愈多樣,小島上的自然環境與人文氣息,是讓箇中養份茁壯的奧妙,OBSCURA與他們合作的念頭也悄悄在醞釀。

創立人Amy和Steven在完成這個合作系列的首批成品後,跟我們分享:「比較喜歡的部分是今次選用的顏色。最初OBSCURA跟我們說到想要一種淡灰色布料,在蒐尋期間,我們看到市面上各式各樣的灰,但看得上眼的少之又少。最後我們一起在三種灰布料之中選了一種質地較為光滑幼細、顏色偏紅,名為『粉末灰』的棉質帆布,有別於我們往常使用的厚身帆布,這是一次新嘗試呢。」

於是便有了眼前這四款,摸起來觸感柔軟,有像會出現在嬰兒衣服用品店的那種溫柔觸感,而又各有所長的包包 —— 有能夠一次收納幾本雜誌和筆記型電腦的大容量背包、裝載幾本小書與前一天沒空整理的雜物也得心應手的背包、也有體積嬌小但用起來身手矯健的兩款小型包。當中每個包包都有多於一種,甚至最高多達四種揹法。整個系列已於OBSCURA網絡商店上架,由於手工製作需時,首批成品售馨後,便需要另行訂製,需要等待長一點的時間才能擁有,喜歡的朋友別猶豫太久哦!

A light shade of grey, and a dash of pale pink combine to form a delicate hue of the sky, like the color of setting sun sprinkled on the surface of cement. Plain and quiet, without being dull. A friend of mine, who studied design, regarded the grey color jokingly as white balance gone wrong. Despite what he said, I still like this extraordinary color.

It was more than two years ago when we first introduced Island Workbench, at a time when they have just transitioned from an online store to a brick and mortar store located in Cheung Chau, the island where both of them were born. The duo, who used to work conscientiously under the rooftop, now have a place to settle down, where they can share with others, as well as establish links between island dwellers, forming little circles. Steven is responsible for running the store whereas Amy is in charge of design and production. She sews each and every one of the bags, which are then passed on to women living on the island for handling minor procedures, before they are returned once again to her hands for final adjustments. The last two years have witnessed a growing number of people using their products as well as the birth of designs in much greater variety. The secret lies in the island’s natural environment and its humanistic atmosphere, which are nourishing to their designs. Meanwhile, the idea of a collaboration between OBSCURA and Island Workbench was also slowly forming beneath the surface.

After completing the first batch of products for this collaboration, Amy and Steven, the co-founders of Island Workbench, shared their thoughts with us: “Our favorite part is the color selected for this production. OBSCURA told us their preference for a type of cloth in light grey. During sourcing, we found a great variety of grey colors available out there, but very few looked appealing to us. In the end, out of the final three grey contenders, we selected a type of cotton canvas which was smoother and softer in texture and reddish grey in color, named ‘powder grey’. It differs from the thicker type of canvas that we commonly use. This is something new for us.”

Thus these four bag models lined up before your eyes, each boasting their own distinct qualities, which are soft to the touch, reminding you of the gentle touch you find in baby clothes store — a large backpack which can fit in a few magazines and a notebook computer; a backpack that comes in handy for accommodating a few small-sized books as well as small items from the previous day left unorganized given the lack of time; and also two smaller-sized bags which are both strong and sturdy despite their size. In addition, there is more than one way, even as many as four, to carry the bags. The whole series is available for purchase on OBSCURA’s online store. Since handcrafting takes time, after the first batch is sold out, you will need to wait for a longer time, as the next round of production gets underway, before the bags land on your doorstep. Thus, do not hesitate for too long if you are interested!