Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Melissa Losada Bofill and Marcela Velez dreamed up the accessories brand M2MALLETIER, recognized for its signature needle handle, in Paris. They both attended Parsons School of Design in New York City, graduating in 2009, then briefly went separate ways, with Melissa traveling to London for a master’s program at Marangoni and Marcela staying in New York to work at the designer Andres Sarda’s U.S. office. After crossing paths again in Cartagena on New Year’s Eve, they began discussing starting a minimalist-driven accessories line. Two weeks later, at a Paris café, they officially began their partnership, founded on a mutual appreciation for clean lines and sleek finishes.
Velez’s family runs a leather factory in Colombia, where they were able to do their first sample tests. “Then, Melissa said, ‘I’m moving to Barcelona. Why don’t you move?’ So I moved here, and that’s how it started,” explained Velez. Whitewall spoke to the M2MALLETIER creators, who are still based in Spain, about the influence their studio space has on their process and about their two new bags: the Sophia and the Mini Bucket.
WHITEWALL: What initially propelled you to start M2M?
M2MALLETIER: One of our conversations was that we hadn’t bought a designer bag in a couple of years because we didn’t find anything worth it, or special, out there at the time, so we saw that as an opportunity. And when we launched, the buyers were like, “This is very refreshing because everything’s been the same for so many years.”
WW: You often cite French interior design, Minimalism, modernism, and Surrealism as points of inspiration for M2MALLETIER. Has that always been the case?
M2M: Yes, it has always been the case. We both have very similar aesthetics and tastes. We don’t like excess, we don’t like logos, and we don’t like big branding and recognition. Everything in our office is very clean, minimal, and with very pure materials, and we feel that our bags have the same idea. The lines are always very clean, and now we are starting to test different finishes and embroideries for new collections, but everything remains very clean and timeless. Simple.
WW: Can you tell us a bit about the brand’s two new bags, the Sophia and the Mini Bucket, which are using new materials like alligator, cashmere suede, metallic leathers, and velvet?
M2M: We wanted to start introducing soft bags to our existing styles and shapes as well as start using our signature hardware in other ways. In this case we have translated it as a decoration rather than our traditional hardware, which is both decoration and a handle. The idea was also that these styles were a bit of a lower price point in comparison to our other bags. They can be seen as the entry-level pieces in the collection.
We used velvet for the first time, which was very exciting. In the past we had only worked with skins, so it was a challenge to make it work due to the complexity that goes into making our bags. It was great when we were able to make them work. We also used suede for the first time in the full body of the bags and introduced a mix of shearling with leather in a couple of styles.
WW: Where did your recognizable needle handle design come from?
M2M: Since the beginning, we wanted to do something different and something recognizable. We were in Paris in a flea market and we saw these beautiful illustrations of medieval medical instruments, so we started brainstorming. “How are we able to use these drawings and translate them into hardware?” At first we had this idea of a needle, and we were sketching. It was a little bit difficult and not very functional to put a needle into a part of the bag, so we started working with a metallic engineer who helped us redesign this concept so that it could be functional. We worked with him for about six months, and he was the one that said, “Okay, you can do something with a little needle, in metallic or brass, but it has to have support.” So that’s how we decided to have a needle with the two supports on the side, and then it was a matter of testing it, and another big challenge was getting the gold plating right. It’s something that a lot of people carry in their hands—they don’t use the leather strap much—so you have to take into account that people sweat and that there’s different environments.
WW: Can you tell us about the Envelope clutch, which is your first design without the needle incorporated?
M2M: It’s the first without the needle, yes, and it’s great. Every day I come to my office, I use it to go to appointments. It’s so beautiful and comfortable. I made a bigger version for my laptop, and it’s beautiful. I don’t have big bags that I can carry my laptop in, and I didn’t like any of the laptop covers either, so I did the envelope in a bigger version, and I also use it in my day-to-day.
WW: Can you tell us about your creative space, La Fábrica—a 19th-century cement factory that was converted into a home for architect (and father-in-law to Melissa) Ricardo Bofill?
M2M: This space is our creative space. It’s in the outskirts of Barcelona and used to be our office, showroom, and creative space before we opened our office in the city of Barcelona. The space is completely amazing. There used to be a lot of architecture [in the space], so there’s this creative energy going around the entire place and it gets you in the mood to design and create.
WW: Have you seen anything recently that you’ve gravitated toward in terms of art and design inspiration, whether an exhibition or a building?
M2M: Not really, to be honest. What’s intrigued us the most has been a trip that Melissa did this summer to Ethiopia. She came back with the most amazing photos ever, and for us it’s been the biggest inspiration for colors and combinations and lifestyle. In previous seasons, we have usually been a bit inspired by something artistic, but this season we are very drawn to these beautiful African tribes and their traditions and lifestyles. So this season that’s what is triggering us in terms of design.
We’re looking at a lot of modern buildings here in Barcelona, and analyzing the details of these constructions. Every doorknob and every window—there’s always something. Living here is amazing.