53.4167° N 3.0000° W

Ian Campbell Cole & Felicity Baggett of Campbell Cole

“We share an appreciation for a minimalist aesthetic and have a meticulous approach to design, exploring sculptural form and balancing it with essential detailing and effortless functionality."

— Ian Campbell Cole

Created in May 2012, Campbell Cole is a Nottingham-based luggage and accessories label with an aim to create quality essentials. Partners Ian Campbell Cole and Felicity Baggett are the duo behind the brand and bring a meticulous approach to design and an appreciation of a minimalism to the product collection. After admiring Campbell Cole’s work from a distance, we were invited to visit their Canal Studio located in Nottingham earlier this autumn.

We sat down with Ian and heard how the ‘impatient perfectionist’ had created Campbell Cole from an unfinished university project. After studying Industrial Design at Northumbria University, Ian’s major project concentrated on bicycles as a form of public transport, aiming to change the perception of cycling by focusing on well designed bicycle-related products that catered to the needs of the dedicated cyclist. The outcome of the project was the ‘Vega Flight Pack’, a robust yet versatile backpack constructed from plywood, leather and Ventile®, a densely woven cotton introduced to Ian by one of his mentors, Nigel Cabourn.

After graduating and spending several years working in London as a junior designer for Pentland Brands, Ian returned to Nottingham in October 2007 and took up a product designer role at Speedo where he was responsible for designing goods such as footwear, goggles and bags. It was during his time at Speedo that Ian decided to continue developing his cycling bag project and along the way he gained invaluable counsel from the likes of Ade Gunn Wilson (Howies) and fashion consultant Simon Spiteri. In August 2010, Ian took the plunge and decided to go freelance to try his hand at creating his own range of products; the following year was spent scouring the world for bag and furniture makers who met his quality standards in order to create a series of prototypes.

However the project did not run as smoothly as he had hoped and was abruptly interrupted by a mountain bike crash in Yorkshire Championships. With a broken back, Ian was determined to keep designing and following a period of intensive recovery, rehabilitation and physiotherapy, Ian shelved the plywood project. After meeting Felicity, a former shirt designer, Ian turned to the contacts he’d made in factories, bag makers and tanneries and with a joint effort, the pair launched the Campbell Cole brand in May 2012. 

A Fashion Design graduate specialising in Menswear, Felicity’s understanding of a brand goes beyond the product itself and was instrumental in the development of Campbell Cole. She describes the start of their working relationship, "Ian was all about provenance and the reason behind each part of the process, whereas I just wanted to make the outcome beautiful". She went on to explain how her first job in retail gave her insight into how to build a loyal customer base, "I learnt that people buy with their hearts not just their heads. Working in a shop is the best fashion education you can have, as a designer it’s the ultimate compliment for someone to be excited to buy something you have created, that’s the aim and why I do it".

The partnership between Ian and Felicity works so well as both have similar aims regarding what they want to create and find their creative process individually rewarding, particularly as both had previously worked for much larger organisations.

Their design technique starts with their own needs and Felicity explains "we tend to start by talking about what we would like to use, and it grows from there. Aesthetically, we’re drawn to simple, clean shapes, with interesting textures or lines. We like things to whisper quality not shout it from the rooftops". Ian adds "re-creating the circumstances that lead to designing a product or style is impossible, it’s of the moment and an amalgamation of different influences that reach an end product". Whilst at the studio, Ian showed us examples of their first ever bags, the Campbell Cole day bag and utility bag, both of which were made using acrylic canvas from Sunbrella. It wasn’t long before Campbell Cole had a well-curated selection of bags and accessories entitled The Simple Collection, which was sold online and in menswear store, Anthem (London).

Since then, Campbell Cole have been busy preparing their first full bag collection (Annex) that launched at London Collections: Men in January 2014. Inspired by modern living architecture, the collection aims to present each bag as a portable living space for your belongings and an extension of your home. The clean, ultra-luxe nature of the Annex Collection has been created with a strong sculptural form, soft premium leather and meticulous attention to detail. The leather used in the collection is from a Spanish tannery and the manufacturing takes place in a British factory based in Hertfordshire. Ian places a lot of importance upon production and believes that each factory has a 'unique handwriting' that gracefully illustrates craftsmanship and years of experience.