I’m sure we all had our fair share of zany ideas while cooped up during COVID, with our quarantine brains functioning on completely new registers. Those schemes likely fell by the wayside for many of us, along with our aspirations to read more, learn how to quilt, or bake bread. But when you’re an accomplished conceptual artist and designer like the Harlem-based Nik Bentel, you might bring those loony lockdown thoughts to life.
Cut to, The Pasta Handbag, which is what it sounds like exactly—a handbag in the form of a Barilla penne pasta box (though no affiliation with Barilla or the eight years they've spent repairing the brand's image after their CEO made homophobic comments). Bentel first came up with the concept after spending a year and a half in quarantine eating bowl after bowl of penne pasta, much like the rest of us. As a designer, Bentel always strives to tell stories with his creations, which “can serve a function, but their main intention is to tell a story,” he previously shared with Surface. “Whether that story is about how the object was made, commentary on a current idea, or simply a physical embodiment of a joke, everything I make has a narrative.”
The Pasta Handbag definitely falls into the “physical embodiment of a joke” category, with Bentel describing it in the project’s brief as “an irreverent take on the past year of staying inside” by reimagining its purpose into something “a little more exciting.” He says that “the goal of the bag is to inspire a bit of thought and reflection on being able to create something exciting from the mundane.”
Concept aside, the bag itself is no slouch in terms of quality and function, with the Barilla box graphic printed onto leather with a UV printer and accented with a gold link chain and other embellishments.
The bag will have a limited release of only 100 units on August 11 at 10 AM EST, priced at $199 a pop. While these bags are sure to be gobbled up instantly, Bentel won’t be making any more. Instead, he will be dropping new designs every few weeks as part of his ongoing “storytelling projects” series.