Steckel suitcases – Sheer luxury from Kempen
As a child, Marc-Christoph Steckel saw “Some Like It Hot”, starring Marilyn Monroe, at the cinema with his father. In this film Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play two musicians on the run from gangsters – disguised as women in an all female band. In one of the film’s scenes one of the two hides in an enormous trunk. Steckel, who was about six years old at the time, declared then and there that he wanted to make a suitcase like that too one day. He kept his word. His company, Steckel-Koffer Koffermanufaktur, fulfills every possible wish of well-off customers – from briefcases to wardrobe trunks.
The 35-year-old entrepreneur started his company in 2009. He began in his own cellar, then took over one of the rooms of his flat, and had a temporary showroom on Düsseldorf’s Kö, one of Europe’s leading luxury shopping streets. But most women who like to stroll down the Kö wouldn’t know where to begin with his suitcases. After all, there is no brand logo adorning these luxury pieces. His customers, Steckel reports, know what they can afford and prefer understatement to ostentatiousness. The Steckel family moved from Meerbusch to Kempen, to the “beautiful” old town center. For a year now he has leased a local shop at the historic city gate, but he only opens on Saturdays. Otherwise he works from his office at home or travels to his customers in Munich, Turin, or Monte Carlo.
His suitcases from Kempen are in demand all round the world. Every suitcase, every bag, every laptop case is unique, manufactured according to the needs and wishes of his discerning customers. All the pieces are handmade in Germany. First-class workmanship goes without saying: the real highlight is the material. The bags and suitcases are not just offered in leather, but also wood and stone veneers, carbon and other sophisticated materials. For instance, Steckel uses an alloy for his new aircases that is also used to build the Airbus A 380. Despite having thin walls, the suitcases are extremely light and stable. To test it, Steckel kicks a strip of this aviation film several times – but it doesn’t make a mark at all. And for the interiors he uses unusual wood veneers such as the root wood of a redwood tree.
But even with ‘normal’ leather, the highest standards are applied. With Bentley or Rolls Royce seat designs, you can really feel the difference. And those who like unusual styles can even go for crocodile leather, which Steckel sources from a farm in Malawi. The extremely expensive skin of the poisonous pearl and stingray from Japan is sheer luxury. The black shiny membrane is indescribable and provides an absolutely unique surface for bags. The discerning customers can choose from over 400 materials. Yet what makes the Steckel suitcases so special is not just the unusual materials, but also the well thought out interior design. The suitcases are designed according to individual requirements: for example, the shirt suitcase that opens from the side, in which the ironed shirts can be pulled out as if from a drawer.
Coming up with such systems and turning them into practicable, real-life solutions is what Marc-Christoph Steckel likes doing best. Originally a carpenter and architect by trade, today he sees himself as a designer who commissions his pieces to be made by friendly little manufactories nearby. With a smile Steckel admits that he could never afford his suitcases himself. The individual pieces cost from 3,500 euros plus materials. But for that he delivers the suitcases to his customers on the Côte d’Azur personally. However, this success wasn’t handed to Steckel on a silver plate. School wasn’t his thing, so he left at 16 and went to do an apprenticeship as a carpenter. Later he went back to school to do his school-leaving certificated so that he could study architecture. But planning kitchens and bathrooms wasn’t going to make the qualified engineer happy long-term, and all his houses somehow resembled massive suitcases. So, he thought to himself, why not make unusual suitcases in the first place? With his rarities he competes with brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermès. But Steckel prefers simple elegance, perfect engineering and individual design according to his customer’s needs. The suitcase builder isn’t satisfied until the customer notices that he/she hasn’t just acquired a one-of-a-kind item, but also a piece of genuine craftsmanship. And sometimes he even employs humor. Like when he made the Herbiecan from factory-made petrol cans, painted them white and attached the 53 logo, just like the wonderful old VW Herbie beetle from the Disney films. The designer, who is fascinated by aviation and space travel, ponders over the future of travel. At the moment the qualified engineer is working on an electric trolley for his suitcases.
9 47906 Kempen
Telefon: +49 (0) 2152 / 910 54 40
As at: July 2014