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Kånken Art 2019

March 7, 2019 Travel Goods No Comments Email Email

An unusually durable design

Kånken was first created in 1978 to help prevent back problems that were emerging among Swedish school children. Two A4 school binders determined its size.

Since then, Kånken has just increased in popularity and is now used by children and adults all over the world. The bag’s timeless design made from durable, water-resistant
fabric Vinylon F has never fallen out of fashion.

Its straight lines have an additional advantage from a sustainability perspective: there is almost no waste when the pattern parts are cut from the fabric. The shoulder straps are made from a single long piece of webbing that is integrated with the back handle, a detail that also contributes to increased sustainability.

On top of this, its design has been recognized as a work of art. In 2016, the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design, Svensk Form, listed Kånken as applied art – comparable with music, film and literary pieces – citing its distinct, low-key design and high level of functionality.

Today Kånken is available in more colours, sizes and models than ever and is famous for its ability to become a much loved and personal companion in people’s daily lives. Its large community of wearers are using it to carry everything from grand future plans to ordinary lunch boxes and are impressively personalizing their Kånkens with stickers, pins, patches and even crochet – photographing it, drawing it and sharing their ingenuity with the world. As a tribute to the creativity and devotion that this remarkable backpack kindles, Fjällräven introduces the Kånken Art special edition for Spring & Summer 2019.

Kånken Art

Kånken – world famous for its iconic design and its uncompromising functionality since 1978 – is about to make history again. An innovative collaboration with two Swedish artists has created something extraordinary: Kånken Art. Each backpack is an expression of creativity and each backpack gives back to nature through the Arctic Fox Initiative. These two special edition designs celebrate the inspiring diversity that is present in both nature and us humans.

Swedish artists create two special edition Kånken backpacks

after kånken was officially designated as craft art a few years ago by Svensk Form, Fjällräven thought it high time to celebrate this achievement in style. It’s doing so with the launch of two special edition Kånken backpacks. Swedish artists, Cecilia Heikkilä and Erik Olovsson, were commissioned to design unique prints representing their personal connections to nature combined with a touch of Kånken playfulness.

Kånken started life in 1978 as a practical solution to a pressing problem. Back troubles were spreading across Sweden and not just among adults, but children too. This worried Fjällräven founder Åke Nordin. So he decided to find a solution. And it was Kånken. A simple backpack with space for two A4 binders and a pencil case it made carrying school gear easier and more comfortable. Over the years Kånken has become more colourful (there are now more than 50 colour combinations), and more varied, with different sizes and materials (including Re-Kånken, made from recycled plastic bottles); but the basic shape and effortless simplicity hasn’t changed. That, along with its history, has helped catapult it to global success. It has now become more than just a backpack.

It’s an extension of the wearer’s personality. It’s photographed, graphically recreated in art and used as a styling accessory. So when it was protected by Svensk Form (The Swedish Society of Crafts and Design) as a piece of art, part of Swedish cultural history, Fjällräven felt it was only natural to run a competition on social media encouraging Kånken wearers to share their Kånken Art.

“We were blown away by the results,” says Sarah Benton, Fjällräven’s social media manager. “Not only was the level of art contributed way beyond our expectations, we also saw the passion surrounding Kånken.” That, along with the designation as art by Svensk Form, is why Fjällräven commissioned Erik and Cecilia to produce Kånken Art prints. Furthermore, one per cent of the proceeds from the sale of these special edition Kånkens will go to Fjällräven’s new Arctic Fox Initiative, a fund that will support projects that protect and preserve flora, fauna and outdoor life. Cecilia Heikkilä is a graphic designer who, among other things, has written and illustrated children’s books. Nature and animals are synonymous with her work and her “Fable” design is influenced predominantly by Nordic nature.

“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. “When Fjällräven asked me to collaborate, I immediately said yes. The goal of The Arctic Fox Initiative lies so close to my heart and I’ve always loved Fjällräven, so I’m proud and happy to contribute.” Erik Olovsson is also a designer working within the fields of product, furniture and graphic
design. He runs his own studio in Stockholm, aiming to have an intuitive and experimental starting point for his projects.

“Kånken was always around when I was growing up and it’s deeply rooted in my childhood. So it’s been an honour and interesting challenge to work on this project,” says Erik. “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.” “Kånken has been used as a canvas by many of our fans for years,” explains Henrik Andersson, head of innovation and design at Fjällräven. ”Inspired by this, we decided to launch Kånken editions with original art from some of our favourite creatives. It adds a nice expression to the Kånken packs and we’re happy connecting them to the Arctic Fox Initiative.”

Kånken Art Laptop / Kånken Art / Kånken Art Mini

Kånken Art is what you get when you invite artists to express their relationship with nature using a Kånken backpack as their canvas. This year, we’re proud to introduce Erik Olovsson and Cecilia Heikkilä, two fantastic young creatives, both with their own unique form of expression. Erik’s Summer/Spring Landscape and Cecilia’s Blue/Green Fable are beautiful new members of the Kånken Family. These special edition Kånkens are also part of the Arctic Fox Initiative.

Fjällräven launches the Arctic Fox Initiative to get more people involved with the environment and connected to nature.

Drawing from a long tradition of environmental commitment and high customer engagement, Fjällräven now introduces The Arctic Fox Initiative. The initiative is a springboard for new projects and bright ideas that help protect the environment and inspires more people to spend time in it. Anyone can apply with a project, funding is decided by a jury and a public voting system and based on the sales of selected products. The goal is to create more involvement in environmental issues in a wider group of people and to realize projects anywhere in the world that make a difference.

History shows the way

The Swedish outdoor brand has supported people and projects that take care of nature or promote an outdoor life since 1960. Fjällräven’s founder, Åke Nordin, always had a deep respect for nature that spread to the employees, the events and of course Fjällräven’s clothing and equipment. The most notable project through the years is the Save the Arctic Fox project. In 1994 the project began supporting Fjällräven’s namesake (Fjällräven means arctic fox in Swedish) through a team of scientists at Stockholm University, led by
Professor Anders Angerbjörn. Anders’s research has helped shed light and – together with Fjällräven – awareness on the plight of the Scandinavian arctic fox with many positive effects. Fjällräven hopes that the Arctic Fox Initiative will bring about similar positive change in other areas too.

Together we can do more

“Since the 1990’s we’ve been involved in different projects that support the arctic fox and we’ve learned that climate change is part of the challenge threatening our namesake. So for us it has become a symbol for doing our bit to protect nature. We realised that we can do a lot, but together we can do more”, says Christiane Dolva, Fjällräven’s head of sustainability. “This is why we started the Arctic Fox Initiative, to expand the scope of projects we support and to get as many people involved as possible”. The first products to support this new initiative will be three special edition Kånken backpacks, two with unique print-designs by artists and a third with rainbow-coloured details.

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