Imagine tossing one of these babies in the overhead bin. Then dragging it along the quay with for a midnight triste. And, later, on a bet, trying to escape from one like Houdini, wrapped in chains. However difficult—even laughable— such feats are to imagine, boxy steamer trunks have upsides the design world’s just waking up to.
Such luggage has the advantage of sparing its owners and staff from having to watch those twenty-four million You Tubes videos on how to pack, for example. A steamer trunk will keep most unruly stuff unharmed and unwrinkled over many a nautical mile, performing like nothing else short of a Moser safe. And what’s more, you can get double duty out of these clunky trunks, converting them to a bench, a desk, a wardrobe and more, as you shall see.
Where’s the booty? You know those pirate chests with the domed tops? In landlocked Nebraska, Charlie Zeller excels in the fancy bending of wood these domed tops require. While such chests will keep the rain off the booty, they won’t stack. Therefore, consider Zeller’s relatively flat version: an ostrich-top padded trunk that doubles as a bench, a perfect seat for changing into the flip flops one can readily stash below. $ 6,800.00 Chucks Woodbarn
Iron fists in soft gloves. One day in the early 70’s, Marley Hodgson came across a collection of boots, belts and backpacks belonging to a British Ghurka commander at UK estate sale. Despite the Ghurka soldiers’ global reputation for toughness, their centuries-old leather gear felt surprisingly soft, after almost one hundred years. Whereupon, Hodgson designed the first of his famous Ghurka collections in a Connecticut factory. This desk/trunk, made in collaboration with noted Italian luggage maker Bertoni, comes in French bull leather with studded trim, cotton twill lining, hand-painted stripes, and brass palladium hardware finishes. 130 x 55 x 55 cm, $19,500 from Ghurka
Piles for miles. Rockefellers, Romanovs, and Grimaldis may have charted different courses, but they all did so with Maison Goyard trunks in tow. Piled up, they appear to celebrate the very dawn of the machine age— in the form, say, of steamships— and at the same time old world craftsmanship, the combination of eye, hand, and mind working leather, metal, Goyardine canvas. $5,200 – $35,800. Goyard
- Iron supplement. Keen on the metal muscularity left exposed in converted lofts? Consider adding a classic Victorian trunk in industrial chic gray iron to your luggage collection. Studded leather corners and wood rims define the nail-trimmed body of a four-drawer “Coberg” model from Kathy Kuo Home. 25.5” high x 50.5” wide x 20.5” deep. $3,348.00 Kathy Kuo
LV at Sea. When sixteen-year-old Louis Vuitton arrived in Paris, he arrived on foot, a poor apprentice. At that time, the more privileged got around in horse-drawn carriages, boats and trains, but this didn’t stop their luggage from getting battered mercilessly—even more so than today, believe it or not! Such abuse drove many a customer to Vuitton’s master, Monsieur Maréchal, for help in packing, crating, and protecting their belongings. Seventeen years later, Vuitton open his workshop near Place Vendome. This steamer trunk from the 1930’s features the iconic LV stenciled monogram on canvas, leather top handles, brass locks and an interior with folding hangers, a shoe section, and six drawers. $21,000 from Luxury Vintage Interiors, Saint-Quen-sur-Seine, France. Luxury Vintage Interiors