RIMOWA unpacks its archive to exhibit historical retrospective at sotheby's new york

RIMOWA unpacks its archive to exhibit historical retrospective at sotheby's new york

with its roots reaching back to 1898, RIMOWA has enduringly placed quality and innovation at its core while championing its heritage and craftsmanship. when the global leader in premium luggage introduced parallel grooved aluminum into the manufacture of its suitcases in 1937, it revolutionized the industry — and became an instantly recognizable design object in the process. more recently, in 2000, RIMOWA pioneered again with its innovation of the first polycarbonate case on the market, and in 2017, joined LVMH group with the view of preserving the vision that has driven the company for over a century.


today, collaborations with leading artists and designers on limited edition luggages and accessories are some of the most sought after travel accompaniments, taking the brand to new heights.

all images courtesy of RIMOWA



in continuing its legacy of iconic collaborations, RIMOWA has partnered with sotheby’s on its first historical retrospective — a monumental exhibition encompassing decades of travel tools, and tracing the evolution of its innovative history. RIMOWA archive collection: 1898 – 2019, on view to the public from september 20 – 25, features previously never-before-seen historic pieces dating back more than 100 years, many of which have, until now, been in private collections around the globe. early pieces are set center stage alongside a carefully curated group of contemporary new releases, including those designed by OFF-WHITE’s virgil abloh, daniel arsham, and alex israel.



the pieces included in the exhibition are set against a reflective chrome vinyl that mirrors the brand’s signature use of aluminum. the more than two dozen luggage pieces sourced from the brand’s archive are arranged on minimal industrial white pedestals and meet spectators at eye-level, creating a stark visual effect that bisects the room and elevating the utilitarian objects to the realm of artwork. also through this configuration, the exhibition becomes horizontally divided between a maximalist showcase of iconic travel staples, and the stark white expanse within sotheby’s that beckons the question of what’s to come.



‘heritage is a key component of what RIMOWA stands for,’ comments alexandre arnault, RIMOWA’s CEO. ‘with the public unveiling of our archives, we’re proud to be sharing the story of our origins, our innovations, challenges and overarching contribution to engineering and travel that has been in the making for over 120 years. there is no better partner to begin this retrospective journey than sotheby’s, an institution marked by its authority in the appraisal and appreciation of culture as a whole.’



sotheby’s new york galleries and headquarters have recently been redesigned by shohei shigematsu of OMA. the building now features 40 galleries of varying sizes spread across four entirely transformed floors, seeking to rival major museums around the world in terms of scope, scale, quality, and flexibility. earlier this year, designboom attended the opening of the newly expanded galleries, where shigematsu and members of the sotheby’s team gave a guided tour of the transformed headquarters — see our coverage here.

daniel arsham rimowa
daniel arsham revisited the RIMOWA design as a numbered, limited-edition ‘eroded suitcase’
see more about the project on designboom here

alex israel reveals color gradient collaboration for RIMOWA
alex israel’s limited edition suitcases feature vibrant gradients inspired by his sky backdrop paintings
see more about the project on designboom here

the ‘see through’ cabin case from 2018 has been designed by friend of the brand, virgil abloh
see more about the project on designboom here



project info: 


exhibition: RIMOWA archive collection: 1898 – 2019
location: sotheby’s new york — 1334 york avenue, new york
duration: september 20 – 25, 2019
opening hours: monday – saturday, 10:00am  5:00pm; sunday 1:00 – 5:00pm

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