Kånken as Art

Here at Fjällräven, Kånken wearers continue to inspire us.
From personalizing with pins, paints, patches and embroidery to sharing sketches on social media, we’ve been positively overwhelmed by the community this backpack has created. A few years ago Kånken was officially designated as a piece of applied art by Svensk Form (The Swedish Society of Crafts and Design) and remarked that Kånken is something more than just a functional object. Its design has its own identity. It was a sign. Everyone, it seemed, viewed Kånken as so much more than a backpack. It was an extension of the wearer – a symbol of something deeper, more unique.
As a celebration this backpack is taking on a life of its own. Kånken is whatever its owner wants it to be, even its art. It is a piece that holds emotional longevity for many and is a blank canvas for the wearer to express themselves. Because of all this respect, love and artistic appreciation, we decided to feature three creative Friends of Fjällräven to share their artistic approach to their Kånken creations. We hope their stories inspire the unique nature lover and creator in you.

Cristina Alcantara

hands holding yarn embroidering kanken backpack

My name is Cristina, I’m a full-time embroiderer, Star Wars fan and pistachio ice cream addict. I was born and raised in Barcelona, but I’ve lived in a variety of countries such as Norway, Chile, India or the United States. Now I call home New York City, where I have my embroidery studio.
I remember I first saw a Kånken backpack while I was hiking in Torres del Paine, in the Chilean Patagonia. I got mine after that. Since the Kånken become so popular in the street (you can’t walk around NYC or BCN without seeing one) I wanted to give mine a personal touch. Inspired by my travels and love for nature, I decided to combine 2 of my favorite things and I embellished my Kånken with hand embroidered flowers.
Now I proudly embroider backpacks for other Kånken lovers. A forest camp site with a night sky, a sunflower field, or a space theme are my most popular designs. Every backpack has its own personality and their vivid colors inspire me to pick up the needle and create my art.

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Shogo Ota

Three kankens with artwork on them

I always enjoy finding hidden stuff like berries, insects and animals when I hang out in my backyard, especially with my kids. Often we see deer walking through our patio. This one time, we found four owls living right above our house.
Recently, we saw a woodpecker (with cool red hair) pecking the tree…I love to use concepts in art like these stories.
All of the plants I painted on the packs are here in my backyard. I guess the packs all have the same story behind them about the nature surrounding my house while having fun with my family and kids in that nature. All of the packs have a hidden creature somewhere on the bag such as a deer, an owl, a woodpecker and a mushroom.
My oldest son has been asking me when can we paint on his own backpack!​
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Shogo Ota designing art on kanken

Pedro Barrios/Jaime Molina

We wanted to treat each bag with a different approach while still using nature as our inspiration. The main goal with each bag was to highlight the beautiful hues that these bags come in.
With the Brick colored bag we wanted to have an image that would tie back to the work that we are most known for. Jaime’s character is surrounded by colorful leaves. 

Red kanken backpack with leaves art print

The Ochre bag was inspired by the architecture of the bag itself. When we were looking at it, the front pocket mimicked a pot to us. So using that we painted cactuses growing out of it. The cactuses are a recurring image in a lot of our work. Their resilient and beautiful nature inspire us and tie back to many different facets of our lives.

yellow kanken with blue artwork on it
On the Frost Green & Peach bag we took a more graphic approach by depicting a serene Colorado mountain scene.

blue and green kanken with artwork on it

Jaime Molina
Pedro Barrios
Photo credit: Levi Tijerina

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Man and Woman walking away from camera towards lake
During these times of uncertainty, we like to share ways for you and our community to stay connected to nature anytime and anywhere to prepare, comfort and inspire.
Nature Is Waiting