Fjällräven’s Kånken backpack is now a work of art
Fjällräven's Kånken backpack has been declared a work of art by Svensk Form, the Swedish Society of Arts and Crafts.
Featuring the same logo and simple, functional design since 1978, the backpack has become an iconic style symbol – not just in Sweden, but across the world.
In recognition of this, Svensk Form – a non-profit organisation tasked by the Swedish Government to promote Swedish design – has added the bag to its list of protected pieces of applied art. Svensk Form says that Kånken is more than just a functional object – its design has its own identity.
Kånken was launched in 1978 to tackle increased incidences of back pain in students – a result of carrying heavy books to school in single strap shoulder bags.
Fjällräven founder Åke Nordin used his experience in designing comfortable, functional backpacks for trekking to create backpacks for commuting and exploring towns and cities.
With 30,000 sales in the first two years, Kånken was an instant success. Made from durable, water-resistant fabric, it's now popular with people of all ages and from all parts of the world.
“Like many products that have become icons over the years, Kånken follows a rule of timelessness and simple design. So it's not surprising that you see a lot of old Kånken backpacks, that have been passed on from parents to their kids, still in use today,” says head of design at Fjällräven, Henrik Andersson.
More than three million Kånken have been sold globally and this number continues to rise. The bag is now available in more than 40 different colours, but the same basic design stays the same.
“The basic form of Kånken is simple and each separate design detail isn't particularly unique. However, the recognisable rectangular shape, the slim fabric straps that cross the back, combined with the location and design of the logo make it an unmistakable product,” said Svensk Form's Opinion Committee.
“All in all, Kånken has a distinct personal touch in design and a distinctive form identity. Kånken is one of the world's best-selling rucksacks. And it has become a symbol of Swedish style and durable design both at home and abroad.”
To celebrate this, Fjällräven's designers have created special-edition webbed
straps in some of the most popular colours for both Kånken and Kånken Mini. Kånken fans will be able to choose between stripes, checks, graphic patterns and colour blocking.
Choosing a Fjällräven Kånken backpack is a good ethical choice too. Fjällräven products are designed to be durable and last many years – and are made with recycled and organic materials whenever available. Production methods reduce impact on the environment, with consumption of energy, water and chemicals kept to a minimum.
Arctic fox campaign
Protecting nature and the environment is important to Fjällräven, and this is reflected in the company's Save the Arctic Fox campaign.
The Arctic fox has lived in Scandinavia since the last Ice Age, but is now under severe threat of extinction in Scandinavia and Finland.
Following overhunting for its beautiful fur coat at the beginning of last century, Arctic foxes have faced continuing challenges. These include insufficient access to food, competition from the red fox – which is pushing the Arctic fox away from its natural habitat – and climate change.
Anders Angerbjörn, professor and researcher at Stockholm University, and Arctic fox expert, believes that the number of Arctic foxes in the mountains could be doubled with the right measures. Today, there are between 130 and 200 adult individuals – but for a species to be considered stable, approximately 500 adults are required.
Since the 1990s, Fjällräven has been cooperating with Anders Angerbjörn in a number of different Arctic fox projects, including funding for research and conservation.