Art Imitates Life

Kånken wearers continue to inspire us. From personalising with badges, patches and crochet to sharing sketches and paintings on social media, we’ve been overwhelmed by the community this humble backpack – yes backpack – has created. Then a few years ago Kånken was officially designated as craft art by Svensk Form (The Swedish Society of Crafts and Design). It was a sign. Everyone, it seemed, viewed Kånken as so much more than a backpack. It was an extension of the wearer – a symbol of something deeper, more unique.

This required some kind of celebration. Because all this respect, love and artistic appreciation was coming from outside of Fjällräven, we decided to hand over the design reigns to two Swedish artists, Cecilia Heikkilä and Erik Olovsson. Having dissimilar styles, we felt they both captured the playfulness Kånken represents. They were each commissioned to design a unique print representing their personal connection to nature. And we were blown away by the results.

“Fable” by Cecilia Heikkilä is influenced predominantly by Nordic nature. And seeing as she divides her time between Dalarna and southern Sweden, where dark, dense forests are filled with mysticism, this is no surprise. Cecilia – Issie as she is known to her friends – is inspired by nature and animals and they a common features in her illustrated children’s books.

“To me, the forest and nature are places for unpredictability and coincidence, in both a dangerous and beautiful way. But I believe that the closer we come to nature, the more we want to protect it. This is what inspired my pattern for Kånken Art,” says Cecilia.

Erik Olovsson works within the fields of product, furniture and graphic design. He runs his own studio in Stockholm, aimi ng to have an intuitive and experimental starting point for his projects. His piece is striking for its strong graphical and colourful portrayal of a landscape at sunset.

“I have many memories hiking in the mountains with my family when I was a kid. To experience the shifting landscape and the ever-changing weather that created new sceneries in front of us was something grand and meaningful to me. My Kånken Art is an abstract way of describing the layers of nature connected to my own memories of the mountains.”

Whichever design you prefer, there is a story behind each one. And we’ll say it again: Kånken is so much more than just a backpack. Share your Kånken story on Instagram using the hashtag #Mykanken.

Text: Sarah Benton

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