Introducing: MYR Studio

January 12 2015

MYR Studio is the brainchild of the multitalented Johanna Landin, a trained architect and designer, who taught herself the art of making bags from scratch to keep from losing touch with her inner maker. The label is made up of radically simple, highly elegant bags in conscientiously tanned Swedish leather and hand-painted by the designer. We’ve got the full line of beautiful Rain Bags, from MYR’s fresh SS15 collection, and caught up with Johanna to learn more about her background and the admirable work that goes into every MYR bag.

How do you take your coffee? 

I make strong filter coffee in the workshop and pour a lot of milk in it. Or I take a coffee at the nearby bakery with a friend that I share workspace with. We always end up drinking to many cups because they have free refills.

What’s your favorite sandwich? 

I’m very found of simple open sandwiches with only a few well-chosen toppings. A favorite is sourdough bread like levain with butter, aged hard cheese and something green on top for example sprouts. Or maybe fig marmalade.

What’s your Sunday routine? 

A Sunday starts with a sleep-in and then a long breakfast with my boyfriend that I live together with. We make an omelet and read the Sunday newspaper. Then maybe a walk in the nearby forest or head into the city to the workshop or to see some friends. Sunday nights I prefer to spend cooking at home and watch a movie or read a book.

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Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. 

I was born in the early 80’s and grew up in a tiny village in the countryside of northern Sweden. Later, I moved to Gothenburg and then Stockholm, where I attended university to study architecture and design. I always liked to draw and make things up, I think that’s how everything started for me and still how all new projects begin for me. Nowadays I’m trying hard to combine full-time work as an architect with my work with MYR. I live just outside Stockholm but have a space in a workshop in Södermalm, the southern part of the city centre. The space is more of a woodworking shop, but it works well for me since my sewing machine can be quite noisy and some tools are the same for leatherwork and for carpentry. When not working I like to go to concerts and to drink wine and have long conversations with my friends. Right now I’m also longing for a dog, but a cat would also do. I travel to big cities in the world or to remote places as often as I can afford to! 

How did MYR  Studio get started? 

It started out for two reasons. I was searching for a shoulder bag for myself that was made in Sweden. Since I’m picky with quality and design, and also care a lot about sustainability and good animal stewardship, I wanted it to be made from domestic, ecologically tanned cow leather. I simply couldn’t find that bag. At the same time, I was working more than full time as an architect, but had become tired of just designing everything by computer and building and creating with my own hands. I decided to try to make a bag myself from some scrap leather.  It was difficult, but I became totally absorbed by it— it was the most challenging thing I’d done in a long time. So, I bought an old industrial sewing machine and took a class at a pattern making school and started experimenting. Quite soon I also realized that it was fun to treat the leather with leather dye and that it then behaved almost like paper.

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Any specific symbolism in your logotype? We see mountains, waves or maybe cute Scandinavian rooftops in that embellished M… 

That’s an interesting interpretation, maybe it’s my subconscious source of inspiration. The word MYR is swedish for a type of mire with a lot of moss. It can be a beautiful and mysterious place in the middle of the woods. The long M in the logo actually derives from an early version of the logo, a symbol that looked like a zigzag stitch. At that time I didn’t have a real punch tool for it and I used my flat screwdriver to hammer it into the leather of the first bags.

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You’re a “designer, architect and craftsperson.” How does each discipline inform the other? 

They are linked together in the way of thinking and approaching ideas and ways of solving tasks. Only scales and the context you must consider are different. I believe that I become a better architect or designer if I’m also creating things on my own, like a craftsperson, and vice versa.

Tell us about Tärnsjö tannery. Why do you source MYR’s leather there? 

Because they are one of the few tanneries left in Sweden. They produce the highest quality hides, sourced from nearby farms and tanned with oak bark in an eco-certified process. Their leather is also thick and sturdy—it’s the kind that looks nice both on the frontside and the backside so that there is no need to use a backing or a lining fabric.  

Walk us through the bags’ production process. 

First I make sketches by hand and mockups in paper and leather. When the design is finished I make a pattern either by hand on thick paper or in the computer to print. The patterned pieces are then placed on the hide so that as little material as possible goes to waste. Then I draw the outline with an awl and cut out each piece very carefully with a rotary cutter. The hand painted illustrations on the Rain series are made with brush and leather stain and needs to dry overnight. Then, holes are made with punches and hardware is attached where needed. After that, the pieces are glued together before being sewn with an old industrial sewing machine. The edges are then beveled with a tool and treated with edge lacquer. The last thing I do is to put on a leather finish to protect the material and then the bag is ready to wear.

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How important is being in Sweden to the brand?

Being in Sweden affects the brand in many ways, just as surroundings always affect things and people. But it’s hard for me to say quite how since I’m in the middle of it. I am, of course, inspired by a lot of people around me, and there is definitely a movement going on where people want to make things in small scale and by themselves. However, today it’s almost as easy to connect with, and be influenced by someone very far away as in the same town, and that is really liberating.

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