Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Shopping Bag 329/Hinza Bag

From a collections care perspective, it is always great to welcome a brand-new object into the collection. That way we can be relatively certain the material will behave in the way we expect it to over time, when we display and store it.

A lovely, brand new object in the collection.
Image credit: Katherine Pell

Most objects, however, have had a life before they join us and exhibit signs of use and wear. From an interpretation perspective this is extremely valuable information in helping to tell that object’s story.

A lovely, worn and used object in the collection.
Image credit: Katherine Pell

What gets really interesting though, is when you have the rare opportunity to study the same design in both an old and new object. This was recently made possible for MoDiP when we received a Perstop bag and a Hinza bag through a generous donation from Karin Bachstätter, the CEO of Hinza AB and great granddaughter of Perstorp founder Wilhelm Wendt.

The Perstop bag (right) and Hinza bag (left)
Image credit: Katherine Pell

I first became interested in this bag after reading an article in
Plastics Today in 2019. I thought it would be a perfect addition to our collection as it tells an interesting story about changing perceptions of the plastics material.

AIBDC : 008597, Shopping Bag 329, c.1950s.
Image credit: Katherine Pell

The Shopping Bag 329 (also known as the Perstop Bag) was created in the 1950s by Perstop AB, a Swedish plastics manufacturer, and designed in-house.

Shopping Bag 329 with original label from the personal collection of Thomas Lindblad.
Image credit: Thomas Lindblad

The ergonomic shape was both durable and sturdy, retaining its form, and was made available in a variety of colours with a glossy, wipe-clean surface and stylish moulded-in stripes. The bag quickly became very popular in Sweden but fell out of favour during the 1960s when supermarkets started to give away free plastic carrier bags. Coincidentally, these were also invented by a Swede (Sten Gustaf Thulin, in 1959) although they were never intended to be a single-use product:

The Shopping Bag 329 is considered a Swedish design classic.

Image credit:

However, with more recent environmental concerns, in 2006 Karin Bachstätter decided to re-introduce the bag, still manufactured in polyethylene but this time using sugar cane as the raw material, a renewable resource, instead of oil.

AIBDC : 008598, Hinza Bag, 2020.
Image credit: Katherine Pell

The bag is considered so original and distinctive that it has been granted copyright protection as an article of Applied Art by the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design and in 2019, Perstorp AB transferred the intellectual property rights to Hinza AB: the design is now officially recognised as the Hinza bag.

Moulded-in maker's mark, AIBDC : 008598.
Image credit: Katherine Pell

In use it is a lovely size and shape with a secure, comfortable LDPE shoulder strap, it can be stacked if you want to store several at the same time and easily wiped clean making it extremely versatile. In addition to being used as a practical bag, I have read about people using them as bicycle baskets, for general storage around the home as well as in the garden. The design is original, sleek and modern, despite being seventy years old, and the Hinza has now been made available in two sizes, in a range of bright and cheery colours, with accessories such as cool-bags, covers and linings. I particularly like the large, bioplastic version in olive green and have already put in a request with my family for my next birthday!

MoDiP’s examples can all be viewed on request.

Katherine Pell
Collections Officer