The Stories Behind Gnome & Bow

Great stories happen to those who can tell them.

Ira Glass

Give the folks at Gnome & Bow this – they have a unique line of products and an enigmatic name offering no clue as to what those products might be. Let’s delve into this intrigue. What is the product? Garden statuettes? Necktie fashions? A misspelled Alaskan city and the front of a boat?

Gnope. Gnot even close.

Janiqueel asked the founder of this audacious Singaporean company, Quanda Ong, just what was going on with that strange name. ‘The Gnome represents that element of fantasy while the Bow symbolises the mark of class. Together, the harmony of these elements guides us in our design philosophy.

Drawing inspiration from the classics to tales of fancy, we develop story elements that are imbued seamlessly into our goods. As with reading a book for the first time, exploring our products will uncover subtle and clever details that reveal a story you’ll find familiar, but with a modern twist.’

As the premise for a line of bags, wallets, and leather accessories, the name and the concept got me wondering. Leather goods inspired by and imbued with classic stories – for adults. I have a Friend who loves bags almost as much as he loves books (he’s a librarian), I wondered if he ever dreamed the two would meet. They have. Right here in Singapore. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Book I: The Hare & The Flying Tortoise. Impetuous or ploddingly slow, your personality traits will find inspiration in this line. You’ll find zipper tabs with the eponymous creatures chasing each other around your valuables, checkered stitching outside, and a race scene within. The attention to detail is notable. I’d be eager for the chance at tea with friends, say, to expound on these facets of the bag and on the story which inspired them. Never especially reticent, I will nevertheless, add this bag as a fillip to even more scintillating table talk.

Book II: Jekyll’s Hyde. You guessed it – they’re reversible, like Dr. Jekyll,  the mild-mannered physician, and his broodingly evil reverse alter ego, Mr. Edward Hyde. One side of the bag’s personality is printed and colourful – ‘Jekyll’s Hyde’ proclaims the leather badge. The other side, or alter ego,  is smoothly subdued in dark brown. It means business. Or does it? Things get mysterious when you’re messing around with multiple personalities. I see myself dumping all the contents on a coffee table, and reversing the bag because, all of a sudden, I’ve had a change of mind. Be careful; this could happen to you.

Book III:  The 4th Musketeer. ‘Tour por un’  proclaims each bag in the line. ‘Un por tour’ rejoins the detachable pouch. Clever, eh? Details like this suggest the story that the bag exemplifies. Makes the tale a part of one’s Everyday routine – ‘transporting us to that epoch of romanticism, where artistic, literary, musical and intellectual masterpieces were highly celebrated,’ as Quanda Ong puts it. Versatile, handsome, and evocative, ‘The result is a dynamic and versatile carrying solution of for the modern individual on-the-go.’

Offered the chance to expound further on his products, Quanda Ong did not demur. Monogramming in various forms is a new service for Gnome & Bow. Two fonts are on offer; two- or three-lines push one’s creativity. Accessories like passport wallets and luggage tags are also new. This a company on the go based on literature – now there’s something new!

‘We offer unique products that are great conversation starters and above all, one that has the power to relate to and inspire your modern day life.’ Relate and inspire. Right! Apt words describing leather goods like no others, at least none that I’ve encountered, and I’ve done my share of retail bag browsing. Make no mistake, these products are high(ish) end goods. Judging by the press release and website, the materials and construction are first-rate and the appearance appealing.

What separates these from similar products, though, is the story.

The collection is … designed to showcase Gnome & Bow’s pursuit for classic, elegant aesthetics whilst embracing the art of storytelling.

Quanda Ong

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