In 2006, graphic designer Pia Kuhlemann moved from Hamburg, Germany to Oahu, Hawaii. Growing up in one of Germany's largest harbor cities, she was exposed to numerous nautical elements, as well as the old sailor mentality, which has been well preserved in Hamburg. The nautical style has always been fashionable in Hamburg, and due to its popularity, bags are made out of sailcloth - a great idea that is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

After arriving in Hawaii, Pia soon realized that there were waste disposal and recycling issues on the island. Trying to follow her outlook of environmental awareness, she sought a material that she could reuse to create a unique surfboard bag for her boyfriend as a birthday gift. That is when she remembered the bags made out of sailcloth back in Germany and the boutique stores that were run by artists and designers who made unique self-made products. Inspired to design her own collection of bags, Pia resigned from her position as an Interactive Art Director and ventured out under full sail into dangerous and unknown waters … and made SOOZOU happen …

"Raise your sail one foot, and you get ten feet of wind."
-Chinese Proverb

How did you come up with the idea for the bags?
...Working from the tallest high-rise in downtown Honolulu, I always had the perfect view of the ocean and could see all the sailboats filling the shining surface of the Pacific creating beautiful colors and patterns. One evening I was watching the sailboats out in the sunset while I was thinking about a birthday present for my boyfriend. I wanted to make him a bag for his surfboard using materials that would best resist salt water and any weather conditions. That is when I remembered the bags made out of old sails that I have known from home, meaning back in Hamburg, Germany. -The surfboard bag is still in the raincheck stage, since I started to think about making more out of this idea: One thing I missed most from home were small independent design shops or underground art initiatives and movements…. so I thought, why shouldn't I be the one to do that right here in Hawaii?

What is your inspiration for the design of the bags?
I am inspired by the actual heritage of the material: the sail. I think of its story, which waters it has sailed in and what adventures it has been in. It is not only made for smooth sailing, but also resists the strongest storms. Sailing is such a great and poetic way of traveling, solely by wind power. With my bag designs, I try to keep the sail's main character and work with its individual story. This makes for an intriguing bag -to know it had a life before out at sea.

Photo by: EB

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