The Modern Backpack: A Brown Paper Bag

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 Urban Kraft offers a fascinating lens into the changing landscape of Modern Americana. In the past decade, Americana has been changing from the image of Norman Rockwell and Uncle Sam to something more subversive and less open. Graffiti has become part of the modern Americana cultural landscape, art covering intentionally plain walls, which is something which you can see in New York City-based Urban Kraft’s work. The recombination of familiar symbols can be powerful, and it is something which they tap into with an expert and gentle hand. This modern backpack is something which can look cheap and derivative while trying to be cool and unique, but Urban Kraft manages to avoid this while making a bold design choice.
They have taken the idea of a paper bag and infused it into a waterproof, durable, lightweight, and versatile series of bags. Each bag has that familiar series of ubiquitous pictographs, so familiar that I almost was unable to place them.
They spring from the black on brown labels on cardboard boxes. On a personal note seeing that clever appropriation of a symbol we all know and don’t care too much about made me really excited by this company. The bags themselves look like the paper bags your mom might have packed lunch in, or filled with groceries. They crinkle pleasingly at the edges, like a paper bag should.
They have all the types of their paper bags on offer as rewards. At the lower end–price-wise–is a card holder with the signature design, as well as a wallet. The highest reward on offer is a pair of backpacks, and right below that in price is a large duffle bag. On their website there is a .gif of a man crinkling a bag to show that it will not rip easily, and I can’t help wonder if these backpacks sound like paper bags.
Their Kickstarter has over a month to go, with products shipping out in July to backers. I’ve got my eye on the messenger bag. While I haven’t had a chance to hold an Urban Kraft bag, I’m hoping that the touch aesthetics are as nostalgic as their design.