When you think of Sweden, what comes to mind ? Volvos, ABBA, IKEA, or more trend driven brands like Acne, J Lindberg, Tiger. Either way its indisputable this Scandinavian nation has been responsible for countless iconic brands and design led products for generations.
One maybe not as well known but equally iconic and has been loved for generations, used for decades and won hearts all over the world with its timeless design is Fjällräven and their Nordic design classic the Kånken backpack.
Kånken started life in 1978 as a practical solution to a pressing problem. Back troubles were increasing among Swedish children. Fjällräven founder, Åke Nordin, decided to find a solution. And that solution was Kånken – a simple backpack with space for two A4 binders and a pencil case that made carrying school gear 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’s now more than just a backpack. It’s an extension of the wearer’s personality. It’s photographed, graphically recreated in social media 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 thought it would celebrate.
It commissioned two Swedish artists, Cecilia Heikkilä and Erik Olovsson, to design unique prints representing their personal connections to nature combined with a touch of Kånken playfulness.
In addition, Fjällräven is expanding its support of good causes with the launch of the Arctic Fox Initiative, a collaboration between Fjällräven and its customers. By donat- ing a percentage of the proceeds from sales of Kånken Art, Fjällräven will support cause that work to protect our environment and/or inspire more people to spend time in nature.
“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.”