Research Unit is a Utilitarian High-End Lifestyle Brand based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Our mission is to give back to as many communities on the tip of Africa as possible. The aim is empower people by working with them on projects to create superior quality, sustainable goods to make an impact on the world.


Research Unit was started in 2011, in a bedroom by husband and wife team, Chad and Erin-Lee Petersen. Their mission from the beginning,  was to learn high-level skills of making accessories, such as bags and luggage to extremely high standards and at a superior quality. With an equal passion for good design and innovation with the lowest level of resources available, they resorted to YouTube. They took the time to research and document each step during their design and development process, to offer you a well made product at superior quality and have done even more to enable these products to be made by individuals who come from a previously disadvantaged life. They have taught their staff skills they have leant themselves and continue to find more communities to help and give back to in South Africa. Research Unit products are designed through careful use and balance of materials, considering each form and function with acute attention to detail and they believe that innovation, good design and very fine craftsmanship go hand-in-hand.  The multiple-award-winning creative duo have had an innovative approach to business from the very start, raising their initial capital from the sale of an iPhone 4, they took out with a 24-month contract when no formal institutions would support, whilst working in radio/TV, Industrial Design and luxury retail for several years.  


"We believe that one of the greatest form of sustainability must be to give back to our community, in creating jobs and skills. The knowledge generated from doing so, can be passed from one generation to the next." 



"Although we’d love our customers to own one of every carefully considered item we make, we also believe that fewer products, made better, can be treasured for a lifetime, We observe the age-old traditions of Japanese craftsmanship, for each of our South African-made products, while applying innovative technology and industrial design experience, to create products we trust are built to last for generations."


We only use superior quality, ethically sourced materials including our vegetable-tanned leathers from a family run tannery in Kwa-Zulu Natal ( South Africa) and 100% cotton canvas. We also work with weavers who use natural fibres, as well as with beading initiatives in Cape Town.  We also work with CMT's and seamstresses from The Cape Flats, areas which are often synonymous for gangsterism and drugs. 

Although we take particular care of the very finest details, we allow our leathers and fabrics to determine the final outcome, leaving any naturally occurring ‘perfect imperfections’ to form part of the finished product in an aesthetically pleasing and organic way. Due to this approach, and the handmade nature of our products, we celebrate the slight variations in finish that occur. For this reason, each of our products is authentic and slightly unique. Our vegetable tanned leather is dyed from vegetable tannins during a long process and leathers are a bi-product of the meat industry in South Africa, therefore not sourced only for the purpose of it's skin.



Quality, Service, Integrity and Reliability