Mitch Kristjanson thought he
Rising-star designer Mitch Kristjanson debuts his second collection: bags that celebrate the colors of summer. Written by rachel gallaher : Photographed by Case + Arzt
GRAY ISSUE No. TWENTY-TWO
would be a furniture designer, and for a while he was one. “My pieces were aesthetically interesting—modern with a medieval twist,” the 29-year-old designer recalls. “I took rotting, tattered wood off my father’s fishing-boat decks and wrapped the pieces with leather so you could sit on them.” Yet they weren’t functional, and they weren’t scalable. Left with several unused hides after an ill-fated attempt at building a Chesterfield sofa, Kristjanson began making small-scale accessories, starting with a work bag for himself, crafted from natural hide and yellow and brown leather. Soon friends and strangers were asking where he’d bought it. With that, Kristjanson launched a line of eight bags, their aesthetic inspired by his childhood in farmy Woodinville, Washington, where horses were his pets. His designs included oversized pony-hair clutches, large totes, and a café au lait–colored bucket bag. His second collection, Rad Summer, launched this spring. The handcrafting and basic structure of his inaugural line endure, but his vibrant new hues aim to capture Northwesterners’ excitement for summer: bright punches of juicy red, grassy greens, and the blue of a cloudless August sky. Kristjanson subtly incorporates precious crystals and minerals into his pieces for their beneficial “metaphysical properties.” Accents of black tourmaline deflect negative energy; selenite evokes creativity and positive energy. His next collection is hush-hush, but Kristjanson’s been experimenting with a stiffer leather that will hold its shape longer and a palette that includes classic nudes and peaches, which promise to be as chic and timeless throughout the year as Rad Summer’s colors are in its namesake season. h
The DESIGN MAGAZINE for the Pacific Northwest.