الحقيبة السوداء

Handmade leather bag with multiple pockets carrying layers of meaning

The Checkpoint bag narrates the struggle for freedom of movement in the constricted livelihood in Palestine. Thousands of Palestinians have to cross military checkpoints on a daily basis, to perform their activities or access basic health and education services. The checkpoints are erected by the Israeli military occupation, and are purposely designed to make people wait in cramped lines inside ‘hi-tech’ cages to prepare their identification cards for inspection, to remove metallic items from their bags and go through demeaning ‘security’ checks.

The design of this handmade leather bag reflects the heavy layers of the checkpoint-crossing experience. Through the extra handle on the bottom, one can swiftly turn the bag and access the external pockets. These have different sizes and shapes to store items before the bag enters the X-ray scanner. The Israeli soldiers will see a hidden pattern inside, the ‘right of return’ keys (haqq al-awda), revealing itself only on their X-ray monitor.

The Checkpoint bag does not simply adapt or surrender to this reality; rather, it challenges it by empowering the carrier and making people understand what Palestinians have to go through on a daily basis. The bag becomes a design charged with meaning, claiming the right to freedom of movement and return to the homeland.


This bag was originally designed during the create-shop 2015 in Jerusalem, of which you can find the report here. The bag is produced in Al-Khalil (Hebron) by Jelld Workshop; watch them crafting the checkpoint bag here. In 2021, architect and designer Areej Ashhab initiated a new design label called the Blacksac. The bag was featured in this article Grant Gibson reviews the Checkpoint Bag by Disarming Design From Palestine, Grant Gibson, OnOffice Magazine, 8 December 2017


The bag will be in stock in October 2021, pre-orders are welcome!


  • Areej Ashhab (PS)

    Areej is an artist and designer based in Jerusalem, currently studying at Bezel Academy of Art and Design. “Actually I think that Palestinians are always afraid of doing things they think they are forbidden to do. They think they are forbidden of most of the things, as a state of mind, then it comes out that actually nobody cares. This is something that we as Palestinians must change in our mindset. You can’t live being always scared and nervous. We have to start to make things, being confident about ourselves, our projects and desires.”

  • Monika Grütze (LV)

    Monika is a Latvian designer based is Amsterdam currently studying at the Think Tank for Visual Strategies master program of the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.

  • Florian Mecklenburg (DE)
  • Palestinian bovine leather, with metal zippers, hidden key silhouette, and an extra cushioned back

    37 x 28 cm