Karu Design - with Daniela Backman

Karu Design - with Daniela Backman

This week Nordique had the pleasure of meeting Daniela Backman, the owner and chief designer of beautiful, independent Finnish brand Karu Designs. Karu have forged a wonderful reputation for producing high quality bags and other accessories - each made from high quality vegetable leather. The brand's focus is on producing artisan, handcrafted goods, inspired by Nordic lifestyle, minimalism and sustainability.

Daniela is originally from Finland, but now lives in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands with her boyfriend, Bart. 

Tell us more about how the journey of Karu Designs began!

DB: I’ve always been creative and had a real interest in all sorts of crafts and DIY projects. The journey of Karu started in 2013 when I needed a new wallet. After looking for a long time for the perfect one, I thought, hey, I could make it better myself rather then buying something! I started going to a weekly market here in Utrecht, bought leather scraps and started teaching myself leather crafting.  And whilst it started with a wallet, soon I was able to create all sorts of things from handbags, to backpacks and weekender bags.

Where did you get your inspiration to start the business?

Bart was the one who pushed me into creating a Kickstarter for my products and from that, a small business. He has always had an entrepreneurial drive and I love making things, so it was a good fit. We run the business together, both equally contributing to the creative and the business side of things.

Who are your favourite designers?

I admire designers like Grace Gordon and Silleknotte because they are both small, independent brands with a loyal base of customers. I admire designers that stay true to their roots, and that design and create timeless, functional products.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you!

I am currently studying for my bachelor in communication and media, so I have to split my time between school and work, which is a challenge sometimes. On a typical day only dedicated to work, I’ll wake up, make a large coffee and answer emails. After that I’ll spend most of the day working on orders or new designs, but mostly crafting. I try to prepare a lot of things that can then, later in the evening be stitched when Bart and I are just relaxing on the couch, watching tv. Sometimes we’ll end up stitching late into the night.

Tells us a bit about the design of your bags– what makes these unique? What are your inspirations for your designs and what materials that you use?

Our designs are inspired by the minimal aesthetics of Nordic fashion and architecture. Our materials are inspired by Finnish nature, which is why we use ecologicalvegetable tanned leather from Sweden and Finland. Clean, straight lines dominate our classic envelope designs. We like to keep them as and functional as possible. A stitch line should hold something together, and a pocket should be able to store something. We don’t believe in added details that do not add a function. Another unique attribute would be that all our products are entirely handmade. This means that also the stitching is done by hand. We use a traditional saddle stitch technique that surpasses any stitch that can be achieved with a sewing machine. This creates a beautiful and indestructible stitch line, but is incredibly time consuming.


What do you find most fascinating about the Nordic countries/Scandinavia?

The endless nights of winter, and even more so, the endless days of summer! There is nothing more beautiful than spending one of these summer nights out in the nature, around a campfire with family or friends. A lot of my inspiration comes from the Finnish wilderness, and other elements of nature.

What do you enjoy doing on your free time when you are not busy creating your beautiful products?!

My life is pretty busy, juggling school, and business, and home life. But when I do have some time off I like to see friends that I haven’t seen in a while, or even just sitting on the couch watching a TV show.  Luckily I’m still in the stage with my business that I consider making these bags, and the craft that comes with it, as free time. It’s what I enjoy doing most! 

See more of Karu Design here: karuofficial.com

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