Published on March 19th, 2014 | by makesupply1
Maker Spotlight: Nordic District
For the first installment of the Maker Spotlight series we spoke with Sander of Nordic District. In this brief interview Sander discusses his beginnings in Leathercraft, his process, and where Nordic District is going in the future.
Lets start with the basics. What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Sander and I was born and raised a little north of Copenhagen, Denmark, where I currently live and have lived for the last 6 years.
How long have you been doing leathercraft? Of that time, how long have you been working under the Nordic District name?
I picked up leathercrafting in 2012. I had previously played around with making bow ties and ties from wool, but basically wasn’t drawn to the craft of making them and when I discovered leathercrafting it was a quick transition because it had me under its spell from the beginning. Like many others I made small stuff for friends and family in the beginning and when people seemed genuinely happy for the products I made the decision to commercialize them through Nordic District, which was founded in November 2012. The name came from the area of Copenhagen where I live and work from, which had its streets named after norse gods in the 1860s.
Your work has a very clean and minimalist vibe. Where or what do you draw inspiration from when developing your aesthetic?
In Denmark the functionalistic design movement of the 1950s and 1960s is widely lauded and still define the stylistic and aesthetic foundation for many people. The works of Arne Jacobsen, Hans J. Wegner, Børge Mogensen and Poul Henningsen are stables both in the homes of families and in public institutions. Børge Mogensen in particular had a love for the natural vegetable tanned leather in his furniture designs, and I have a deep admiration of those designs and the materials he used/combined. I’m also inspired by the visual artist Sergei Sviatchenko who combines his aesthetics in collages in a cross between style, design and architecture.
Product prototyping is a highly subjective process for any maker. Could you explain a little about how you develop and prototype new ideas? Do you follow any specific guidelines?
I haven’t put together a set of guidelines that I must follow every single time. Guidelines might be good for securing a stylistic red line through your work, but other than that I find it limiting – I don’t think I would thrive under it. I have my aesthetic preferences and they’re naturally incorporated into the design process. It starts with the product serving a function to the user and trying to lean and simplify the design to do just that. I attempt to let the materials develop for what they are in the designs – that means clean surfaces, very limited to no ornamentation and tooling.
Your edge work on your latest round of bi-fold wallets is exquisite. What is one tip you would give other leathercrafters out there in regards to improving their edge work?
Between leatherworkers it almost seems like the holy grail and I’m quite obsessive in trying to perfect the edge work. In my experience it comes down to priority – if you’re willing to spend the time it takes you’ll get the results you want. In the beginning edge work was almost a burden and I tried to cut corners and limiting the time I spent on them by investing in the cocobolo dremel burnishers, but in the end the results for me were much better when I could control the heat build up and liquid application by hand with the use of water/wax, sandpaper, canvas and hand burnishing woods.
I also believe that each leatherworker replicate techniques differently and some methods might work for some, but not for others. Experiment and try different techniques and always look to improve.
What is one unconventional tool (ie. not specifically for leathercraft) in your workshop you couldnt live without?
Paper clips and pipe cleaners! They’re dirt cheap but does a great job when gluing pieces together and in applying water to the edge during sanding and burnishing.
What do you envision the future of Nordic District looking like? Looking to expand into any new avenues, styles, or materials?
I just got a spot at a design store, which is run by a collective of 8 designers. The clientele is different from what I’ve been focusing on and I’m looking to expand my product line into being more interior driven and maybe focusing more on women’s bags and accessories. I’ve also been contacted and asked about collaboratives and that might also happen within the next 6 months
Thank you for your time Sander. Where could someone go if they want to find more information or purchase goods from Nordic District?
Thank you! I love sharing pictures of projects and the process and on Instagram @nordicdistrict. They can buy my goods online at www.nordicdistrict.com or if people make they’re way to Copenhagen visit the Designkollektivet store at Stefansgade 12 on Nørrebro.