nextPERSON is our new segment where we tap the minds of the brilliant people we connect with. Each person is asked the same three questions: What do you do? Why do you do it? What is NEXT? It is a “coffee-break” read and a chance to get to know the nextPERSON accelerating change in the world. Enjoy!

Meet our nextPERSON: Daniel Freitag, maker of bags and brother to Markus.

What do you do?

My name is Daniel. My last name is the start of the weekend: Friday or “Freitag” in German, which is also the name of the company my brother and I started back in the 90’s. I always have trouble describing what I do because I am a designer by profession, then I learned to be a graphic artist and finally I ended up doing my own project after my apprenticeship. So, ever since I just see myself as a creative. But, I really like the business part of things and I guess I ended up being an entrepreneur for the last 23 years, which best describes what I do.

You also need to be creative on the business side. As designers at Freitag, my brother and I are probably best known for THE Freitag product, which is a messenger bag made out of recycled materials like old truck tarpaulins, used bicycle inner tubes and car seatbelts. But, we are more trying to sell a philosophy about keeping materials in cycle by designing and reinventing products that give materials a second life. We try to provide products that support and prove this philosophy.

Why do you do it?

My brother and I first designed the durable weatherproof messenger bag out of personal need. But the design philosophy points further back in our history. We always call ourselves ‘children of the compost generation’. As a kid I hated bringing the compost out in the backyard, but I learned that Zucchini grow bigger with compost. We realized pretty early you need to be careful with resources and I think that’s why we eventually ended up reusing or upcycling material in our products.

I believe thinking in cycles is something you can apply to any field of life. There is not just one strategy behind it. I mean upcycling is fine, but there are different strategies to make a holistic sustainable offer. That is what we are working on and what we are enthusiastic about: providing solutions that prove our philosophy.

What is NEXT?

Well we grew this nice organization, which is already big enough to provide our products worldwide. We just started working in the apparel business, which means there is a high learning curve for the whole organization. There are just so many possibilities right now. People are ready to communicate and consume in a different manner. I have the feeling that we’re at the beginning of a journey and our philosophy will only grow. During the last 23 years sustainability has become more and more important. We have a fantastic base in sustainability. There are so many directions we could go.

For example, the rack furniture made of cardboard and recyclable plastic that we normally just use in our stores, we have now provided to swissnex at Pier 17 – so if it turns out you can use it in an office environment, maybe we will step into the furniture business? No matter what we will always stick to our cyclical philosophy and products that are merchandized accordingly.

And what’s next in the very near future is I will be giving a design talk on July 22 at our pop-up store in San Francisco run by Dijital Fix on Valencia St. We also look forward to exploring more options to expand our presence here in San Francisco, where many people already live by our philosophy.

Photo: Daniel Freitag, by Roland Taennler