By Nour Sheety
With “Timeless simplicity – the ultimate sophistication” as Ann-Sofi’s motto, we delve deeper into what that means for the designer, how she found her calling in designing bags, her creative process and her carefully chosen materials.
Describe your brand in a few words.
Minimalism is one of the main words to describe my brand. A strong tradition of craftsmanship with innovative design is reflected through the products that are influenced by a Nordic heritage and an international appeal.
What drew you into accessories, specifically?
The idea of starting designing accessories came originally from the love for bags made of natural raw materials by traditional craftsmanship. I had an urge to create something simple but challenging at the same time, something that adds personality and style to the wearer and completes the outfit.
Did you always know, when you were younger, that you’d go into design?
I have always been interested in everything related to creativity and design. Since a very young age, I have been painting, drawing and attending all kinds of handicraft courses and workshops. At first, I stumbled upon bag design as a hobby…However, it wasn’t until I moved to Barcelona and started studying fashion accessory design and discovered leather that I knew I had found my own creative niche.
My Finnish childhood surrounded by nature, art, tradition and craftsmanship has influenced the way I view the world and design. I value form and function in an attempt to create art that has a utility as well as an aesthetic quality. Constructivist art and architecture has also influenced my approach to focus on the construction and pure raw materials, which finally transform the objects into something different, honest and beautiful.
What is the creative process you go through when designing a bag?
A new collection can start from a picture that you see while walking somewhere or by a wooden chair that you see in a museum. For example, the inspiration behind the latest (urban) collection was spontaneously found when eating dark chocolate fondue with a spoon.
After choosing the theme, I make mood boards and sketches, choose the colours and materials, trying to specify the details (how many and what kind of styles, dimensions, hardware etc.). Many times I also design a bag by continuing from the previous collections, as many of them continue existing and I aim to improve them and complement them with new designs rather than focusing on ongoing trends.
Before starting with the leather, I make patterns by experimenting with paper in order to see the real 3D shape of the product. These prototypes are then finally handmade in leather. Unlike normal bags that consists of various leather pieces that are cut and stitched together to make a finished product, a Väska bag is made from a single piece of durable leather, which is folded in a unique way and fastened with rivets.
The materials you use are very unique and uncommon. What brought that decision along?
I believe in sustainability, durability and smaller-scale production: quality before quantity. This is why I love to use locally sourced, natural (vegetable tanned) leather of highest quality for my creations; it looks, smells and feels great. This type of leather is also the most eco-friendly type of tanning. Unlike chrome leather (chemically treated), vegetable tanned leather is treated with natural tannins found in barks, wood, leaves, plants, etc. The end result is a genuine and lush appearance and it ages beautifully. No heavy metals or toxic substances are included in the tanning process of vegetable leather.
What kind of woman do you envision carrying your bags?
It can be a design-conscious woman anywhere between 20 and 50 from any part of the world.
She appreciates individuality, quality, timeless elegance and natural beauty.
Can you share your favorite piece, and why?
My favourite bag is still yet to come…I mean, I always attempt to keep improving and creating new designs. If I had to choose one in particular, my favourite from the current collection would be the classic ADA MINI crossbody bag – the design is simple yet recognizable by its signature minimalist folding construction, and the size is perfect for any day use.
What was your inspiration behind the Prism 2015 collection?
The Prism 2015 collection was inspired by Joan Miro’s sculpture and abstract art, and sees VÄSKA explore three-dimensional shapes and volumes that emerge from architectural geometry. It brings together two separate lines: Classic and Urban. Väska Classic carries permanent, timeless bags, while Väska Urban is renewed seasonally.
If you could design a bag for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would it look like?
Wow, that’s a difficult one. There are so many! If I had to choose among celebrities, the first people that come to my mind are Diane Kruger, Natalie Portman, Blake Lively, Adele or Jennifer Lawrence. It would be a personalized Väska bag.
What can we expect to come from you next?
I will continue experimenting with new shapes and forms. I’d also like to try a wider range of materials in the line, so I’m concentrating on the design/development part right now.