When your Copenhagen neighbourhood is completely your bag!

French designer launches range of tote bags championing the capital’s best known districts

Everyone loves a good tote bag, even though their sustainability does tend to get exaggerated as we only tend to use them a handful of times, finding them years later under a mountain of similarly forgotten shoes, sporting a slogan like ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.

Frederiksberg with French flare
Still, that hasn’t put off Aurelia Durand, an enterprising French designer who initially struggled to find work after moving here in 2014 to settle down with her Danish boyfriend after previously studying at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology.

There can only be one choice when Aurelia goes out in her home district, Vesterbro
There can only be one choice when Aurelia goes out in her home district, Vesterbro

She has designed a whole range of bags sporting illustrations of six Copenhagen neighbourhoods, including Nørrebro, Vesterbro and Frederiksberg.

The ultimate icebreaker
Durand sees the bags as perfect souvenir gifts for tourists – they certainly beat all the tacky ashtrays and t-shirts you find in the shops on Strøget – and as a way of starting a dialogue amongst Copenhageners.

To research the neighbourhoods, she carried out street surveys to find out recommendations such as favourite concert venues and kebab houses.

The key to a good interview, according to Durand, was taking a photo of her subject.

“The conversation flows easily once I’ve taken a picture,” she said.

“We can look each other in the eyes and tell our stories. It’s a great way to meet new people and I’m sure I’ll hang out with some of them again and hopefully make new friends.”


Friend or foe?
In the meantime, Durand hopes her tote bags will encourage discussion and also help protect the environment. “There are too many stupid plastic bags,” she said.

Sadly though, they can often have the reverse effect.

A 2006 study by the UK Environment Agency found that cotton canvas bags needed to be reused at least 327 times before they could match the carbon expenditure of a disposable plastic bag, while recycled plastic bags needed to be used 26 times.

And a study by Edelman Berland in 2014 revealed that the average tote bag is used only 15 times.

And they make a charming map as well
And they make a charming map as well