Designer Nik Bentel is releasing a new version of his handbags shaped like boxes of pasta.
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Pasta Bag by Nik Bentel
Credit: Courtesy of Nik Bentel

Artist and designer Nik Bentel says he was completely surprised by the reaction his "Pasta Bag" received last summer, when everyone on the Internet seemed to simultaneously decide that the Barilla-inspired crossbody bag was the must-have of the season. 

"A few Twitter accounts had gotten ahold of some of the images that I was sharing to the press," he told Food & Wine. "I had a link open for preorders and my phone started blowing up — I had to turn off the preorders or I wouldn't have had enough bags for the actual launch a week later. When the bag launched, we sold out of all 100 bags in five to 10 minutes — it was just immediate. I think there were about 60,000 people on my website, which was amazing." 

On the one hand, Bentel said the response to the leather bag was "humbling," but on the other, a lot of would-be Pasta Bag buyers were unable to get their hands on one. "I didn't expect it to happen that way at all," he said. "I was sitting by myself in my room and I was internally screaming to myself. It was really exciting, especially at 10 a.m. when you've barely had coffee." 

The New York-based Bentel said that he felt like he had to create a sequel to the insanely successful bag, and his second Pasta Bag was released on nikolasbentelstudio.com today, Wednesday, June 8, at 10 a.m. EST. And just like the OG version, this run of Pasta Bags is also limited to 100.

Pasta Bag by Nik Bentel
Credit: Courtesy of Nik Bentel

Bentel designs and releases "a small, limited-edition object" every month — he's recently dropped a candle based on the pistil and stamen of a blooming flower and a dress inspired by a pattern in Botticelli's Birth of Venus — but this is the first time he's revisited an idea for a second time. "I try to make every object unique, but I think this one is slightly different because of the online excitement," he said. "I felt like I needed to do another one, but I also think the aesthetic is totally different." 

Although the previous pasta bag was an elegant copy of a Barilla pasta box, the second version doesn't feature any logos other than Bentel's own name. (Although frequent visitors to the pasta aisle may notice some similarities to Di Cecco's branding.) "A few small pasta companies reached out to me, asking to collaborate on a pasta bag," Bentel said. "But I think I needed something that was a bit more ubiquitous. There's a certain aesthetic that pasta companies go for in terms of advertising their pasta. They use certain colors, certain gradients, certain fonts, and certain words, so I tried to incorporate as much as possible into this." 

Bentel said  that he was able to build on what he learned during last summer's design process, and he believes that this version is an upgrade, in terms of the quality of the materials used and the vibrant colors of the UV-printed vegan leather. 

As for what happens with the launch, Bentel is cautiously optimistic that the second bag will receive the same enthusiastic response as its predecessor. "I think people will be excited about it," he said. "But the main thing is that I hope that people will see what I'm doing as a limited-edition launch every month, and I hope they'll stay tuned for the next couple of projects. I'm just excited to see what happens."