Sámi design comes in many shapes. From traditional leather hats to a blue dress at the Nobel Banquet. Some of Sweden’s coolest designers have taken the Sámi expression further – to put some excitement into everyday life.

"I like the long processes; that's what makes the work sustainable and interesting... my work mustn't have a negative impact on our world." Hanna Råman
Bags shaped like a traditional coffee bag, made in vadmal or recycled denim with shoulder straps made of braided reindeer skin. Bracelet Ovttas in braided reindeer skin, sold in favour of the organisation PLAN Sweden.
Necklace and earrings in birch bark and silver.
Northern Sámi gákti where Hanna has used denim instead of the classic vadmal (frieze).

Hanna Råman, Vittangi

For Hanna Råman, handicraft and duodji are based on thoughts and tradition, creativity and joy. An ability to use what nature has to offer and create something beautiful. It has to do with slow and sustainable processes. Simply preparing and tanning a hide is a process that extends over the seasons.

What inspires you? Nature, wherever I am. People, wherever they are. I suppose it’s the same for many people, but it is important to be able to find inspiration here and now. At the same time, it’s important to allow yourself to be surprised when you meet new people, cultures and forms of expression.

Which materials do you work with? Natural materials. Mostly reindeer hides, but also birch root, woodland and alpine birds, birch bark and wool. I like to mix materials that marry well with each other. Silver and horn therefore appear in much of what I make. Among other recycled fabrics, I use denim in handbags based on the coffee-pouch model.

What do you wish to communicate with your designs? Simplicity. It must be natural and useful. I like stripped-down, functional design. Even so, I like to make things as beautiful as possible. There needn’t be any difference between beauty and simplicity.

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Hanna Råman designs handbags and jewellery for the here and now, and duodji (traditional Sámi handicraft). Learn more about Hanna’s designs on www.hannaraman.n.nu .

What is your personal expression? Mixing hard and soft materials is probably my artistic expression. But, for me, crafting means creating something with my thoughts and my hands. I like the long processes; that’s what makes the work sustainable and interesting. The environment is important to me and my work mustn’t have a negative impact on our world. Taking advantage of changes in the temperature to allow the reindeer leather to soften, and using osier, willow and birch to tan it, is just one example.

For you, what is the arctic lifestyle? Being close to the forest, the mountains and the water.

"Unnit Leavttu – 'slow down'– is my motto". Erica Huuva Simma. Photo by Lisa Keijonen
Árbevierru/Tradition is a classic jewellery collection.

Erica Huuva Simma, Idivuoma

Erica Huvva Simma from Idivuoma loves to shape, or realize her ideas, with her hands. For her, a day when nothing is created is a lost day. Erica designs Sámi silver jewellery based on a philosophy she calls Slow Art Sàpmi, in which time is quality and quality is sustainable. And sustainability is our foundation, culture and future.

What inspires you? Nature. Life. The Sámi culture and traditions, encounters with other cultures and people. Time and space; on makes room for the other. Without space there is no time – and vice versa.

Which materials do you work with? Silver, brass, gold, wood, horn, paper, textile, paint and canvas. But also the joy I experience over being able to produce something every day.

What do you wish to communicate with your designs? A love of my culture, and to pass our heritage and traditions on to new generations. Initially, inspiration reaches me in the form of words. I keep the words within me, where they grow to become forms and jewellery.

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Erica designs modern and traditional Sámi silver jewellery. Utility items. Her own patterns and forms, among other things, modern textiles, art and textile printing. Her collections have themed names such as for example Gárdi/Reindeer Corral, Muohta/Snow, Ráhkisvuohta/Love, Garra biegga/Strong wind. Take a look at the collection here: www.ericahuuva.se

What is your personal expression? Natural simplicity rooted in the Sámi culture. I want to combine Sámi aesthetics with modern classic elegance. It must be timeless. I want my products to become much-loved friends for many years to come.

For you, what is the arctic lifestyle? It is nature and the changing of the seasons. How we live off, and with, nature. I have a Sámi background, which means that I am more attuned to nature. To listen and internalize.

"A sense of being part of a culture should be at the heart of every-thing we do. But I also want to give the world a bit more 'wow'." Anna-Stina Svakko.
Modern interpretations inspired by the v-shape of the Southern Sámi gákti garment and its embroidered collar.

Anna-Stina Svakko, Porjus

Clothing designer Anna-Stina Svakko is from Kiruna but she grew up in a Sámi village in Malå. Currently, she lives in Porjus and develops a modern language for a traditional form of art and handicraft. She finds inspiration in the reindeer and nature. By October 2015, she had sewn 267 kolts (traditional Sámi tunics).

What inspires you? Traditional Sámi forms in textiles, but also winter and its nuances of blue. A sense of being part of a culture should be at the heart of everything we do. I’m inspired by duodji (traditional Sámi art and artefacts). I also want to give the world a bit more ‘wow’.

Which materials do you work with? Often, modern designer fabrics from labels such as Armani, Gucci and Prada, and, of course, natural materials such as wool, silk, leather and fur from the north. I also use recovered material whenever I can.

What do you wish to communicate with your designs? That Sámi form is alive in the here and now. We are part of the age in which we live. But, naturally, I also want to make my own mark.

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Anna-Stina mixes leather, cloth, fur, different fabrics and metals by ear, and creates unique and personal items of Sámi-inspired clothing. Learn more by visiting www.astudesign.com. Astu is the Northern Sámi word for ‘having time’.

What is your personal expression? To dare to go against what is expected; that is, people’s preconceived notion of what constitutes Sámi culture. For me, ethno fashion is red, blue, green and, often, yellow. But that isn’t always easy. All Sámi design, mine at least, has its origins in árbdiettu, the inherited knowledge we acquire subconsciously simply from growing up in the Sámi tradition. Even so, although my design is deeply rooted in my genes, I want to surprise.

For you, what is the arctic lifestyle? The blue days and nights give us vitality, as long as the climate does not change. Shovelling snow six months of the year and realizing it is an asset.

"I want to create products that tell their own story together with the wearer. That's slow fashion." Sara Björne.
Necklace 'Minsttar' in recyclable aluminium with a 925 silver chain.
Tin bracelet 'Vintage Denim' made of second-hand fabric with a 925 silver clasp.

Sara Björne, Kiruna

Sara Björne works with slow fashion. Quality materials and small-scale production are keywords. Sara’s ambition is to make clothing for those who care about style and sustainability. When culture minister Alice Bah Kuhnke was going to attend her first Nobel banquet, she contacted Sara.

What inspires you? I am inspired by everything around me; magazines, the web, people, books, TV and travel.

Which materials do you work with? I work with metal, mostly silver and pewter thread, but also textiles. Then, I work with various kinds of textiles, just like a tailor. The dress Alice Bah Kuhnke wore at the Nobel banquet was special. She already had a dress that she wanted me to redesign, as a form of recycling. Besides the fact that I like the idea of recycling, I was very pleased with the result.

What do you wish to communicate with your designs? Simple, stylish and timeless products. My products should be able to mix and match with everything. They should be for everyday wear, as well as for festive occasions. Above all, good quality stands the test of time.

Learn more
Sara Björne from Kiruna designs jewellery and custom-tailored clothing. Have a look at her designs on sarabjorne.com.

What is your personal expression? Again, simple, stylish and timeless products. Sustainability in the choice of both material and style. I want my clothes and accessories to be worn season after season. I want to create products that tell their own story together with the wearer. That’s slow fashion, an attitude to fashion in which quality always takes precedence over quantity. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop shopping and consuming, simply that we should consider choosing products that are good and sustainable.

For you, what is the arctic lifestyle? For me it’s skiing, both conventional cross-country and ski touring. Being outdoors, fishing and hiking. If it hadn’t been for nature and the outdoors lifestyle, I would have lived somewhere else. That’s important for me.

"My greatest source of inspiration is the place where I live, the land and the sky. The mountains, forests, heaths, rivers, starry skies, sunrises, bad weather, and every-thing that lives there.” Lena Viltokk
Lena's unique, decorated creations in bold colours are based on Sámi traditions and feature a contrast-rich mix of materials. Her characteristic appliqué style makes each garment as unique as its wearer.

Lena Viltok, Jokkmokk

Together with her sister Mia, Lena Viltok has a studio and boutique in Jokkmokk. She mainly designs and sews leather/fur hats, shoes and larger garments, as well as doing commissioned design work. In many ways, her business, the studio, has developed out of a need to develop her art.

What inspires you? I am very inspired by the materials I work with. Our traditional Sámi handicraft, which is a treasure and an inheritance, is also a very great inspiration, as are people who go their own way, instead of following the crowd. But my greatest source of inspiration is the place where I live, the land and the sky. The mountains, forests, heaths, rivers, starry skies, sunrises, bad weather, and everything that lives there. The sense of security and strength it gives me and, above all, the power in it.

Which materials do you work with? I work with many different materials, often, leather and pelts from, for example, reindeer, goat, seal and marten. I use a lot of woollen fabric and dupion silk, but also other materials such as lace, cotton fabric, etc., depending on what I am creating.

What do you wish to communicate with your designs? With my design I want to convey the power and life that is in everything around us, and the richness of Sámi cultural expression. I want to make these even more visible for the rest of society.

Learn more
Lena’s specialities are clothing, accessories and interior design. To learn more about her and her sister’s studio and boutique in Jokkmokk, look up ‘Systrarna Viltok’ (the Viltok Sisters) on Facebook.

What is your personal expression? My most personal expression is in my use of very bold colours. I love decorations and appliqué and I never leave anything unadorned. My favourite decorative items right now are motifs such as reindeer antlers and birds, dressed in different colours, reindeer calfskin, goatskin and silver thread.

For you, what is the arctic lifestyle? It is a way of life whereby we value and respect the mountains, the forests and the climate as they still exist, even though they may have been impacted. It also has to do with all of the seasons. And that we safeguard it all for future generations. We must use the land without abusing it. It’s as far as you can get from a throw-away lifestyle. It’s about being outdoors and the special light we have here. My own arctic lifestyle revolves around my artistic creation, which is based on my love of the outdoors and helping to take care of the family’s reindeer. I don’t want to live any other life!

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