Meet Shujan Bertrand for Aplat
Ahead of our Holiday Artisan Fair 2017, we would like to introduce you to one of our local vendors, Shujan Bertrand for Aplat.
Image: Shujan Bertrand for Aplat
How did you come up with the innovative bag designs Aplat is known for?
Aplat came to me in a moment of clarity when, giving a bouquet of flowers to a friend, I reimagined the crackling cellophane packaging as a beautiful fabric wrap that would reflect the intent of the gesture. And, the Jardin Tote was born, followed by a complete culinary collection for food, wine, bread and flowers that elevates giving to an art form.
Inspired by French art de vivre I experienced at my husband’s family home in the south of France, I wanted to create a collection that motivates food lovers, bakers, wine connoisseurs, and garden lovers to embrace a simply beautiful approach to everyday rituals. And I, in turn, am inspired daily by the stories I hear from people who are using their Aplat pieces in thoughtful and creative ways.
The word à-plat in French means “to be flat” or “a dish”, which is the basis for my design principles in applying a simple set of origami folds. Always using a square or rectangle pattern, I’m able to create several designs from one sheet of 100% organic cotton or raw salvaged denim, resulting in zero use of hardware (no zippers, button and clasps) and zero waste of materials, resulting in a sustainable manufacturing process and a collection that is washable and reusable.
Image: James Carriere for Aplat
What does it mean to you to be a “ farm to factory ” business?
I am a huge believer in the the awareness generated by the farm-to-table and slow food movements, and I’m committed to applying the same rigor to the textiles industry.
I believe in empathy in every stage of the creation of our products. Every hand that carries Aplat from farm to factory to table is essential to our success. Our implementation of origami design principles allows for zero waste in raw materials, including salvaged denim, at the cutting stage – while the folding techniques result in a better experience for the people in the factory. Our products are made to last, intentionally designed and manufactured for low environmental impact. We care so much about where our food comes from; I want us to devote as much attention to farm-to-factory as we do to farm-to-table. I want the impact of Aplat products to be as environmentally sound as we can make it, every step of the way.
What is your favorite “unconventional” use for your culinary totes?
I love to hear about all of the ways people use our totes. One of my favorites is to see the Plat tote used as a picnic bag, carrying a neatly folded picnic blanket plus all of the necessary provisions, hanging off a bicycle handle. It seems that the more you fill the Plat tote, the wider and flatter it becomes. It really is the perfect afternoon in a bag.
I also love my Aplat GRAND Tote , which is much more than a market bag. From kids’ soccer games, to the beach, picnics or camping, it holds everything under the sun!
Image: Renee Zellweger for Aplat
What drives you to create?
I'm curious about people, lifestyle and culture. The daily routines and traditions passed down in the family. As an Industrial Designer, I’m always looking for insights to improve or elevate experiences, actively absorbing everything around me, asking questions, cultivating ideas, and getting excited about conversations that start with, “What if...” It’s so important to me to be manufacturing in San Francisco – in fact, the entire Aplat Collection is made directly across the street from our studio in the Bayview Mission. Being able to create and produce locally, with a thoughtful approach to process at all stages of a product’s life, is the spark that drives me every day.