Two new limited-edition Kånkens are joining the Fjällräven family this spring. The Swedish outdoor brand has commissioned two Swedish artists to create unique patterns for its much-loved and world-famous backpack. The result is Kånken Art – Kånken, like you know it, but different.
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.
Cecilia Heikkilä is a graphic designer who, among other things, writes and illustrates 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.
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.”
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 donating 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.”
You can find out more about the Arctic Fox Initiative HERE.
The new backpacks will be available on a limited launch from 15 February, with a full global launch planned for 15 March.