Sandqvist was founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 2004 by Anton Sandqvist. Together, with his brother Daniel and their friend Sebastian Westin, they produce bags and accessories for an urban lifestyle and everyday use. Their designs are uncomplicated, functional and beautiful, with a clear Swedish heritage, drawing inspiration from the Nordic landscape with its forests, rivers and vast unpopulated areas as well as an urban lifestyle.
In late October 2017 Sandqvist will open their new shop in Berlin including an in-house repair unit, where customers can take their used products back to either get them fixed or leave them there in return for a voucher. Sandqvist then revamps the old backpacks and resells them second-hand. We sat down with co-founder Sebastian Westin.
Sebastian, what sparked the idea for Sandqvist?
Sandqvist was started in 2004. Anton Sandqvist couldn't find a good workbag for his own use, so he decided to try and stitch one himself. People liked the bag, so he took it to a fashion/interior store in Stockholm. At the same time, me and his younger brother Daniel were working on a free lifestyle pop culture magazine and much more in the “fashion world”. Hence, Anton started asking us questions. After a while we got so involved in Sandqvist that we decided to be partners. And the rest is - as you say - history.
Sandqvist's ultimate goal?
We want to be the first choice when it comes to quality, good looking and sustainable bags. Whether it is backpacks or handbags. We are always going to be number one. On the way there we want to have fun, be fair and care for the environment.
How does the brand's design reflect its Swedish heritage?
As with everything we do, we try to keep it simple yet functional with no unnecessary details. We always look at shapes and silhouettes when designing bags. Swedish products, fashion, architecture, cars or interior design has always been kind of serious. Swedish people - in general - live with a bitter sweet melancholy inside, which you a lot of times can see in both ours and other brands design. Other than that we work with sturdy materials - always with sustainability in mind.
Where does the typical Scandinavian aesthetic come from, what makes it so attractive internationally?
I think that in contrast to a lot of other non Swedish brands we just keep it simple and let the fabrics and subtle details do the talking. We have an expression in Sweden that's Jante-lag which very freely translated means “you shouldn't think any extra of yourself. You aren't any better then anyone else. And if you are, show it, don't tell it”. I kind of like the Law of Jante and think that the Scandi expression in many ways got it's history from there.
What do people desire the most these days?
I think time. Time to do stuff. Simple stuff that makes you happy like a car trip to a nice lake with a fire place or good food and friends. I think we need to see the beauty in the small things. Sure the Maldives are amazing, but if you just look a little bit closer to your home or heart you can find so much more and much more accessible. A backpack filled with a thermos, a warm sweater, egg sandwiches and some snus is all you need.
What makes Berlin the right place to open another shop?
There are so many reasons. One is because Berlin is such a cool city. It's always been on our top five list of fun, creative and inspiring cities. Also we have a really good thing going on in Germany. Germans seem to like our bags. Our strategy is to have at least one or two Sandqvist shops in all major and fun cities. We want the Berliners to see the full range of bags that we have.
What do you like the most about Berlin?
The clubs, the restaurants, the atmosphere and the people. It's a cliché but Berlin is so much fun and such a inspiring city. I used to go to Berlin a lot a couple of years ago, especially during the summer. Berlin is everything Stockholm wants to be but can't be because of all the boring Swedish rules.
The winter in Berlin. I don’t know if it's because if the humidity or something else. Other then that I can't come up with anything bad about Berlin.
What is next for Sandqvist?
This fall we are taking huge steps in sustainability, changing all cotton to organic cotton and all nylon and polyester to recycled polyester going for 100% sustainable fabrics within a year. Next we are looking into opening more shops, probably at least one or two during 2018. Also when looking at our 2018 collections, I feel that we are taking so many big and inspiring steps in design and communications. Some really cool collaborations will be launched as well. We are still hungry and haven't even started yet. There are so much more beautiful bags to be made.
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