Inside Framework Designs: Bags for Everyday Adventures
Framework Designs is a one-woman bag company based out of Melbourne, Australia. We stopped by the studio to learn more about founder Tia Evans and what influences the distinct aesthetic of her bags. Find a photo tour of her workspace, a look at two of her daily drivers, and get to know all about Framework Designs here…
Living in North America, it’s unsurprising that I hear and see more from bag makers working on the same continent. Although we try to cover bag makers from all over the world here on the site, it often feels like some of the bigger names steal the spotlight from the next generation of incredibly talented makers. If growing is the ultimate goal, it’s crucial for these folks to differentiate themselves from other cottage industry makers while also finding a unique style that sets them apart from the big brands. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that some of the most established bikepacking bag manufactures were just getting started in their garages, paving the way for the incredible assortment of bags we see today.
Owned and operated by Tia Evans, Framework Designs was on a short list of must-visit people during my trip to Australia earlier this year. Contrary to the big brand effect I mentioned above, Framework Designs is one of the makers that has carved out its own little slice of the bikepacking world, building a globally recognized brand, a high-quality lineup of bags (a few of which I’ve tested myself), and a story that consumers can get behind. I spent an afternoon at Framework Designs HQ, which is based out of Tia’s home in Melbourne, getting to know Tia, the business, and what drives her unique aesthetic. Continue reading for some thoughts from the visit, a look at two of Tia’s personal bikes, and some hints about what we can expect from Framework Designs moving forward.
Framework Designs has been run solely by Tia since its inception in 2018. The studio is tucked into the garage of her house and packed full of sewing machines, materials, and large cutting tables. The space doesn’t feel like an add-on or afterthought. The design theme of the home flows smoothly into the studio. In fact, the space is accessed just behind the kitchen, so it all feels very connected. Tia’s Brunswick green couch matches the bags on her commuter bike and is a fabric option she offers on her site. Her partner Joel, a carpenter by trade, built an entire wall where the garage door rolls shut, complete with big windows and doors, making the space feel like anything but a garage.
The space was packed full of finished bags, brass hardware, and huge rolls of Australian-made shiraz, khaki, and green canvas. There were swatches of various fabrics pinned on the wall, a letter from a happy customer, and a large world map with pins showcasing where she has shipped her bags—North America included. Tia is incredibly modest and said she thought I might have been expecting something more than a garage-based workshop. After spending some time in the space, it’s clear Framework Designs is more of an extension of Tia than anything else.
Tia’s background is in textile design, more specifically home wares like pillows, sheets, hand-dyed linen, and other accessories. It’s clear that some of her earlier work still inspires today’s Framework Designs aesthetic and in one article, I found her debut textile range described as “wearable art.” I distinctly remember Tia telling us that she wants her bags to look just as good off the bike as they do on it, which is obviously influenced by her time working with textiles. The entire Framework Designs lineup has a distinctive look and feel, made from a range of earth-toned Australian-made waterproof canvas and high-quality metal hardware. The bags are clean, functional, and designed to last.
It’s always special meeting the makers of bikepacking bags I’ve tested and decided to continue using long afterwards. Tia sent me a prototype of the Travellers panniers last year, which came along on several local campouts and also ended up coming for a ride down the Black Canyon Trail in Arizona. I’ve kept them close by and also ended up using them during my latest ~2,000-kilometre bikepacking tour of Australia a few weeks back. Just like the Sight Seeker Basket Bag, which I’ve also tested and refuse to part ways with, the Travellers panniers have proven to be durable and functional. Although you won’t find many extra bells or whistles on Framework’s bags, the attention to detail and thoughtfulness of the designs are obvious. Tia sticks to high-quality fabrics that hold up in any type of weather and doesn’t add features just for the sake of adding more.
Even with this somewhat utilitarian approach, Framework Designs manages to stand out. Not only because it’s a woman-owned, Australia-based business, but because she’s developed a well-rounded collection of bags that are a direct representation of her own personal style and background. It’s hard not to look at bikes outfitted with Framework Designs and feel compelled to ask who made the bags, which is exactly what happened on multiple occasions during our trip to Australia. More than a few cyclists who stopped to check out my setup were most curious about the Travellers mini panniers, and because the branding is so minimal on all of Tia’s bags, you’re pretty much forced to strike up a conversation if you want to learn more.
On the product front, Framework Designs usually releases small batches of bags and announces restocks on their Instagram page. Their current line-up includes two mini panniers, the Pint Sized Panniers and The Travellers, a basket bag that also doubles as a front rack bag called the Sight Seeker, the Handlebar Snack Sack, and a hip pack/handlebar bag called the Middle Management. Custom frame bag orders open periodically throughout the year, including right now. They offer repairs to damaged bags and ship throughout Australia and internationally.
The entire line-up is handmade by Tia. Everything from the cardboard templates to waterproof canvas and foam backing are all traced, cut, and sewn in-house. Every grommet and bartack serves a purpose. While the bags aren’t 100% waterproof, they are made with waterproof materials, have a liner fabric, and all the seams are finished with nylon seam tape. In my experience, they hold up well in wet conditions, but Tia recommends adding a drybag for seriously foul weather.
The set of Travellers mini panniers that I’ve been using are just starting to develop some patina, a benefit of their canvas construction. I bolted them directly onto an Old Man Mountain Elkhorn Rack, providing a totally wiggle-free setup for the duration of our trip. I bounced down rough doubletrack, zipped along smooth singletrack, and was constantly brushing them up against bushes and laying them on the ground. They look even better than they did a few months ago, and their 4.5L capacity proved to be great for carrying a two-person cook kit/stove and bulkier food on some of the more remote stretches of our route. The Sight Seeker basket bag I reviewed is slightly more feature-rich, and it shares the same robust construction and quality I’ve come to expect from Framework Designs.
Watching Tia work on a set of mini panniers, it’s clear she’s incredibly confident with her craft. She was focused and attentive to each step of the construction process and didn’t let our presence distract her from what she was doing. She has a calm demeanor but moved around the studio with assertiveness.
Tia’s Specialized Chisel
Tia picked up a 2021 Specialized Chisel to have something light but capable for longer rides. She said it feels great loaded up with gear and playful on the trails when pared back. It was her interim mountain bike before she picked up a dual-suspension MTB, and it has served her well over the last few years. During the Easter weekend not long before my visit, Tia and some friends visited Mungo National Park in south-western Australia on the land of the Barkandji/Paakantyi, Mutthi Mutthi, and Ngiyampaa people. Tia rode the Chisel, almost exactly how you see it here, and she spoke about how special the experience was considering the park is home to archaeological human remains that are dated to over 40,000 years old.
The current build kit is mostly stock except for a few new components and Tia’s beloved Brooks B17S saddle. The bike is set up with a newly acquired Jack the Rack, Sight Seeker Bag, Pint Sized and Travellers panniers, and a custom frame bag. The black and khaki canvas paired with the matte black finish of the bike are lovely together, and I’d expect nothing less from Tia.
- Frame: Specialized Chisel Comp 2021
- Fork: RockShox Judy
- Bottom Bracket: Shimano BB52, BSA Threaded
- Crankset: Shimano MT511, 32T Chainring
- Chain: Shimano Deore M6100, 12-speed
- Shifter: Shimano SLX M7100, 12-speed
- Derailleur: Shimano SLX M7100, SGS
- Cassette: Sunrace 11-51T
- Brakes: Shimano M6100 Hydraulic
- Wheels: Specialized Alloy Rims, Shimano MT410-B Hubs
- Tires: Vittoria Mezcal 29×2.25″
- Stem: Specialized XC
- Seatpost: KS LEV Dropper Post
- Saddle: Brooks B17S
- Pedals: Cleanskin Flats
- Grips: ESI Chunky Grips
Bags & Accessories
- Front Rack: Jack the Rack
- Rear Rack: Thule Pack n’ Pedal
- Handlebar Bag: The Sight Seeker
- Fork Bags: The Pint Size Panniers
- Framebag: Custom Framework Designs
- Panniers: The Travellers
Tia’s Velo Orange Polyvalent Diamond
Tia’s custom Velo Orange Polyvalent is so good that I’ll let her introduce it. “My commuter is truly a thing of beauty. I often catch myself staring at it from across the room. I mean just look at the Snakeskin fenders! I was working Saturdays at Commuter Cycles when I fell in love with the green Polyvalent Diamond frame and decided to dive into the custom build process. I got to have a go at every part of the build and even built the wheels myself (with expert guidance from the mechanics), which makes it a super special bike for me. I feel like this bike is a true reflection of half of my personality—the other half being scrappy and shreddy!”
The Polyvalent is completely custom and loaded with all kinds of neat little details. Front and rear dynamo-powered lights, a healthy dose of polished silver components, and the cork wrap on the seat tube matching the cork Ergon grips. It’s a work of art. Tia’s studio and home and the metallic sage paint on the Velo Orange with matching Framework Designs bags, it all fit into her aesthetic seamlessly. The bike is finished with a set of Travellers panniers and a soon-to-be-released basket tote.
- Frame: Velo Orange Polyvalent Diamond, 4130 Chromoly Steel
- Fork: 4130 chromoly steel
- Crankset: Veloci Rollcii 13
- Chain: Shimano 11-speed
- Shifter: Shimano Deore 11-speed
- Derailleur: Shimano Deore 11-speed
- Cassette: Shimano Deore, 11-42T
- Brakes: Shimano Deore Hydraulic
- Rims: Velo Orange Voyager
- Hubs: Velo Orange, Schmidt SON Dynamo Hub
- Tires: René Herse Babyshoe Pass TC 650Bx42mm
- Handlebar: Velo Orange Granola Bar
- Stem Velo Orange
- Seatpost: Velo Orange
- Saddle: Brooks B17S
- Pedals: MKS BM-7
- Grips: Ergon Biocork
Bags & Accessories
- Front Rack: Velo Orange Randoneur Front Rack
- Rear Rack: Velo Orange Constructeur Rear Rack
- Basket: Wald 137
- Front Bag: Tote Bag Sample
- Panniers: The Travellers
- Fenders: Velo Orange Snakeskin
What’s next for Framework Designs? Tia has a few very busy weeks coming up, including her first appearance at the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia from June 2nd-4th and a sample sale happening at Commuter Cycles in Melbourne the following weekend. After that, she has plans to put a bit of energy into increasing the efficiency of the cutting and marking processes of production and invest some time into some new items like the tote showcased on her Velo Orange.
Another round of custom frame bag orders just opened up online, with a lead time of about four weeks from when they receive your template. Options include zippered openings, roll-top closures, dividers, hydration hose ports, and more in your choice of Australian-made canvas, 1000D Cordura, or EcoPak. A little further out, Tia has plans to move into a larger workspace and have some more helping hands in the studio.
Every now and again, I meet someone from our little corner of the bike industry who reignites my love for this community, and Tia is one of those people. Framework Designs creates functional yet stylish bags with a distinct look that will still look good a decade from now, but it’s more than just earth-toned canvas and carefully considered aesthetics that set her apart from other bag makers in my book. I appreciate that she isn’t designing bags to fit into a certain box and is instead leaning into what she knows and what she’s passionate about. And although the end product has shifted since her days of textile design, the concept of “wearable art” is still at the heart of every bag she designs.
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