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The Frankfurt cork collection

At first glance the dual themes of a collection of cork-leather accessories for fashion enthusiasts and help for refugees in distress do not usually have much of a connection, yet the bags and smart phone cases of

Anyone who experiments with design should always be clear about their final goal, and this was how a recent creative idea of the brand and design agency the Peter Schmidt Group took root following a screen printing workshop that had explored nautical flag motifs. The agency wanted to take advantage of the printing techniques it had recently experienced and went on to develop a range of accessories made from cork-leather, a characteristic, sustainable material derived from the bark of the cork tree that had a distinctive grain, yet a texture still soft to the touch. It had equally been important to the agency that not only should each distinctive piece of the collection be attractive in its design, but also serve a good purpose too. Thus, a design story naturally became clear, for as cork floated on water and flag motifs could also represent signals of distress, so the proceeds from the product's sale should benefit an organisation committed to the rescue of those in peril at sea.

That the design should be symbolic, rather than explicit, had also been a clear objective for the team right from the start: "The flag symbols are abstract, as what is usually hoisted in the wind is in our collection superimposed on top of one another", explained Larissa von der Heide, who had created the designs together with her colleague Marija Zurak. "The fact that the bags are a charity statement should not be the only impression given, as even though the motifs can be decoded if desired, it is not necessary to do so to appreciate the design."

A collaboration between the Peter Schmidt Group and the Frankfurt label frisch Beutel

Larissa and Marija brought two partners together for the development of the collection and today both no longer remain unknown within Frankfurt's design scene: Lisa Frisch and Katharina Pfaff are the founders of the label "frisch Beutel" and have been producing and selling hand sewn bags and cork-leather accessories in their studio since 2015. Lisa and Katharina have now taken this new collection as an opportunity to further develop and extend their product range and today the new "N über C" collection includes backpacks, shoppers, bum bags and small cases as well as smart phone and laptop cases too. "We are excited to be participating in this great project and have the chance to interpret our designs in combination with such an expressive flag design. The products are not only real eye catchers, but also benefit a good cause," said the two young entrepreneurs.

The motifs printed on the bags and accessories represent three different flag signals: D, which has been superimposed over X, represents the international shipping sign for "I sink" while C over B communicates "I need immediate help", and finally the most commonly used emergency signal of all, N over C, stands for "I am in need" and gives the collection its name. Each individual flag pattern has been applied on top of one another, using a dual screen printing processes, while both the sewing of the pockets and the printing of the motifs themselves have been lovingly done by hand. An initial sample collection had first been made by Kerstin Lichtblau and Michael Bloeck, at a screen printing workshop in their studio, and the cork-leather for the final production series was created at a local printing shop in Offenbach, close by to Frankfurt.

100% of revenue will go to "Jugend Rettet".

The Peter Schmidt Group achieved the "N über C" collection through a creative project that had garnered design and production concepts rarely seen in modern business today, whereby agency employees had been given an opportunity to undertake independent initiatives which not only realised projects close to their heart, but also extended their skills and experience too. As generating a profit had not been the primary objective behind creating the collection, this approach also meant that personal development and growth were able to have a greater priority. All proceeds from the sale of the collection, where each item costs between 30 and 200 Euros, will be donated to "Jugend Rettet", a non-governmental initiative that has been rescuing refugees in distress across the Mediterranean Sea since July 2016.

Premiered on Friday, 2nd December at the Treehouse design store

The "N über C" collection is limited in total to 100 pieces, many of which are unique, and became available for purchase as of 3rd December, either online at www.frisch-shop.de or at the Treehouse design store (Weckmarkt 7, 60311, Frankfurt). The official premiere of the collection took place at an evening event on Friday, 2nd December, and further details about "N über C" can be found at: www.nueberc.de