The Wickedly Provacative Handbag Designs of James Piatt

A great artist can do amazing work in any medium, and that is certainly evident in the amazing handbags made by James Piatt, a packaging designer with influences in the surrealist art movement.

Read more about Piatt and see some examples of his innovative handbag designs in this excerpt from “The Art of the Handbag,” written by Clare Anthony.

Since graduating from the Art Center College of Design in Pasedena, California in 1999, James Piatt had designed consumer products ranging from iPad and e-reader accessories to bathroom fixtures.

Surrealist art has been a major influence on his work. Citing Meret Oppenheim’s fur-covered teacup and spoon as an example, Piatt says that most of his designs are “about combining two different ideas that do not obviously belong together.”

In 2004, Piatt designed his first handbag as a gift for a friend. When the knuckleduster handle attracted a lot of attention, he decided to produce and sell the bag through his website. Since then, Piatt has both refined and varied the design of his signature bag.

The knuckleduster handle of the “PeaceKeeper 4000,” shown below, may look dangerous, but not to worry: even though its detachable, it’s made not of brass or steel polyurethane.

The Knuckleduster 4000
The Knuckleduster 4000

James Piatt has said that he wants to create handbags that are provocative, and the “Persuader” certainly fits the bill. It also fit s Piatt’s interest in using new methods of construction.

The laser-cut leather bag is not stitched, but held together by interlocking tabs. Instead of holding bullets, the ammo clip is just the right size for a cell phone.

The Pursuader

In some ways, “Tinkerbell” may be even more provocative than the “Persuader.” Piatt named the bag after the teacup Chihuahua that Paris Hilton carried everywhere–then lost…and found…and then, as some stories have it, gave away because it weighed too much.

Whatever actually happened to Tinkerbell, Hilton started the trend of carrying a small dog as an accessory. Piatt’s “Tinkerbell” takes the trend to an extreme, imaging what might happen to the dog once it goes out of style.



The Art of the Handbag

“I find that it is vital to have at least one handbag for each of the ten types of social occasions.” – Miss Piggy. Most women would agree with Miss Piggy – and even those who disagree would think one bag for all occasions isn’t really enough.

Ever since the reticule came into style after the French Revolution, women have been attached to their handbags. And whether you’re a woman of leisure who wants a tiny bag to carry a lipstick, comb, and mirror or a working woman who needs a satchel to hold your cell phone, e-reader, laptop, water bottle, makeup, lunch, and whatever else you need in the course of a long day, you’re sure to be enchanted by the variety of bags featured in this lavishly illustrated book.

In “The Art of the Handbag,” a wonderful range of bags is presented–from Judith Leiber’s sculpted, crystal-studded metal “minaudières” to James Piatt’s handbag with its knuckleduster handle, from Lulu Guinness’s red snakeskin “Lips” clutch to Hester van Eeghen’s elegant “Monocle” bag, from Kathleen Dustin’s exquisite “Rose Bud” wrist purse to Inés Figaredo’s retro “Telephone” shoulder bag. It’s a showcase gallery of 25 contemporary handbag designers, and it features over 100 artful creations. The crazy beautiful bags in this book provide perfect accents for every wardrobe.