Cabinets of curiosity

Custom-made steamer-trunk storage solutions with high-tech wizardry and über-chic style

To some, an early-1900s steamer trunk may be a humble and hefty piece of antiquated luggage, but not to the master of storage solutions,Pinel & Pinel. Using secret compartments, drawers and an innumerable array of personalisedfeatures, the French company’s bespoke service has revived the trunk for the 21st century – and its handmade, leather-covered selection has attracted commissions from a distinguished clientele.

Aesthetes searching for a way to organise and showcase cherished pieces might like to take keen note of the Parisian workshop’s creation for Nike Jordan (third picture, price on request): a 2m storage tower on wheels with 23 red-leather compartments – each made to fit a pair of trainers. With a black leather exterior finished with enamelled Jordan logos, the trunk opens to reveal a 32in flat-screen TV in the central section.


A trunk made for Vacheron Constantin took the concept from high tech to high security, with its three columns of six spotlit safety-deposit boxes, each safeguarding a watch case with a 20mm glass door and a two-key locking system.

Teaming up with furniture and interior designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance in 2009, Pinel & Pinel designed a case to house Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million perfume (second picture, price on request). Covered in unpolished shagreen and calfskin, the carry-case trunk features hidden drawers stashed with refills of the special-edition scent.


For Francis Kurkdjian, work and pleasure combined by way of a laboratory on wheels, with compartments for countless ingredients to accompany the perfumer on his olfactory commitments all over the world.

A commission from champagne heavyweights Krug involved upsizing a traditional picnic hamper into a 94cm x 60cm x 38cm calfskin-covered wooden trunk (first picture, about €40,000). Fitted with a hinged door that transforms into a tasting table with nickel-coated table legs, the supersized design also containsthree tripod stools, plus niches for an ice bucket and three bottles of the all-important cuvée. Similar commissions might include 10 custom-made drawers to store everything from champagne flutes to a truffle grater.

A personal consultation with Fred Pinel, who founded the company in 1998 and oversees every step of the manufacturing process, is just the start of the customisation process. A trunk’s leather cover might be made in any one of 50 shades of crocodile, calf or sharkskin, but whether housing a bicycle, style accessories or a gaming console, the tailor-made possibilities are wondrously vast.

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