Ceverly crafted out of printing blankets, making their bags durable and very original, Rupert Jensch and Andjelko Artic of SAG+SAL combine their love of art, design and upcycling in a way that’s been notably successful. Rubert grew up in Baden-Württemberg, studied printing technology and product design. Andjelko was born in Zagreb, Croatia (former Yugoslavia) and also studied printing technology, which is how they met and realized they had similar points of view – both share a special interest in something that people or companies usually throw away.
Can you tell us a bit about the history and progression of your products?
More than two years ago, we came up with the idea to make bags using this material. We had already used it in the past for other things, such as accenting old furniture but we only used small printing blankets, so we didn’t see the possibly of doing anything else with of it. I remember the day we saw a big blue blanket from a company using big machines. They used it then they just threw it away – which meant it could belongs to us! At that point we started talking about it and in few minutes we realized that was it. We had a piece of industrial trash and an idea, then we saw the bag and knew it would work. The concept was new and the pieces would be designed and made in Berlin.
We started collecting the blankets and accepted help from our friends. Fortunately for us, most them have very useful professions: photographers, graphic designers, layout-artists, editors and many more…
Your bags are made from printing blankets. For those of us who aren’t sure what that means, can you tell us more about the material?
Offset printing is a printing technique where the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, the printing blanket and then to the printing surface. These printing blankets are extremely resistant to wear and tear. They are composed of various layers of rubber and special tissues. The material is waterproof and can be cleaned easily, using an eraser or standard detergents. During the different printing processes the blankets are exposed to varying colors, causing the individual color nuances of our bags.
What are the best, most convenient aspects of using this material as the basis for your work, and have been the most difficult obstacles to overcome with their production?
The most convenient aspect of this material is the cost… free! We cut the bags out of the blanket, then it’s up to us if we use the smaller parts for something else or throw it away if it’s unusable. The second best aspect is that the material gives the bags a dimensional stability, in German we say formstabil (the bags won’t lose their volume). It was a challenge to start producing the bags without using a sewing machine because none of us wanted to start learning how and we didn’t want to outsource it. Our solution was to use bookbinding screws that we found in my company. These obstacles were often a great way to force us to new solutions.
It was also difficult to continue getting more blankets from bigger companies. Some companies didn’t want to collect them for us. We even had another big company think we were industry spies because the blankets contain color residue and they thought we might analyze the color-combination or something like that. So I made them a suggestion that I think it would be a good idea to have the workers clean the blankets for us, that was the point when they threw us out.
Is the material and its collection sustainable? Why not use new materials?
I think the whole concept would be destroyed if we bought the materials new. The blankets themselves are too expensive. It would be necessary to spend up to 80€ per blanket. Also a lot of energy and resources are necessary to make them. They are often used for about a week, depending on the machine and the company, then just thrown away. Our idea was to make a recycling/upcycling product since it’s always great to see something special in an object our society doesn’t think they need anymore.
Your work is getting a lot of attention lately, being featured in the newspaper and during exhibitions and fairs. What are the most exciting aspects of seeing your business grow and what do you hope to accomplish in the near future?
The whole thing started as a project of sorts. We are still young, only two-years old, but now we are a company. SAG+SAL is a brand and it is our opportunity to make something special and I think we are on a great path. We have a perfect partnership, Rupert has an affinity for design and me, art. In regards to the future, I think SAG+SAL is more then just bags made comprised of printing blankets. The printing blankets are the basis for something more serious – participation in art and the opportunity to be surrounded by people doing the right thing, whatever that means. It’s up to each individual to make the world a better place.