What do you do when you need to get rid of 80,000 airline seats that are weighing down your flying fleet?
Well, if you’re Southwest Airlines — the same commercial carrier that employs hilarious flight attendants who offer complimentary peanuts and pretzels — you do something ultra-unique, if mildly weird, like turning those seats into trendy handbags that have been conditioned by thousands of backsides.
Southwest partnered on the repurposing project with Looptworks, a Portland, Ore.-based company that turns “high-quality, unused material” into “limited edition, hand-numbered goods.”
Designers took more than 40 acres of leather — removed during a large-scale cabin redesign that introduced lighter materials into Southwest’s planes — and turned them into a line of bicolored bags known as Project Luvseat, according to Looptworks.
“Our designers took the original intent and form of the seats for inspiration and tried to figure out which kind of process was least wasteful,” Looptworks co-founder Scott Hamlin told Portland Monthly. “We didn’t want to undo what had already been done.”
The bags, which include a backpack, a tote and a duffel, are made in the United States and range from $150 to $225 depending on the model. Looptworks has also partnered with a Portland nonprofit to train adults with disabilities “to deconstruct and clean the seats before the manufacturing process,” according to a news release.
And just when you thought the bags couldn’t be get even more Portlandesque, there’s this: By not using “virgin leather,” Hamlin told Portland Monthly, each bag conserves between 3,000 and 4,000 gallons of water, “cutting carbon emissions by 72 percent.”
Designers were able to get three different designs out of each seat, according to the magazine.
“A lot of people are huge fans of Southwest Airlines, so there’s a nostalgia piece there that some people like,” Hamlin said. “And honestly, they look really cool. The bags have a vintage vibe, which is really in right now.”
Here’s a Looptworks video about Project Luvseat:
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