miDeer Felt Accessories: Timeless x Nordic x Unisex

What do industrial felt and fashion have in common? A beautiful harmony of effortless and durable design, as honoured by miDeer. Estonian slow fashion brand miDeer creates Nordic-style bags and accessories for every occasion. Their sleek designs are loved by men and women alike, serving as a seasonless and functional must-have for any urban fashion-lover. What’s it like in the world of miDeer?, we asked.  

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

miDeer Felt Accessories, 2017. / Photo: Jake Farra.

miDeer Felt Accessories, 2017. / Photo: Jake Farra.

How did the journey of miDeer begin?

miDeer stems from our goal to pay homage to Scandinavian simplicity and elegance. We make modern Nordic accessories, interior design elements and have also introduced a line for children. What first started as a hobby of designing meaningful items for personal use, quickly grew into an independent brand — a brand living its own rhythm and life. The whole process has been thrilling for us — a real dream come true! We were thrilled by the idea of curating our own designer label and sparking conversation through what we do. Aesthetics-wise, we’ve always been enchanted by the power of simplicity. The pure lines, clear contours… that’s why minimalism and functionality go hand-in-hand throughout our miDeer line. 

Photo: Jake Farra.

Photo: Jake Farra.

The term ‘sustainable’ in design can be confusing. What’s your take on sustainable design?

For us at miDeer, practical, timeless, and slow fashion is super important. With this attitude and the aesthetics, we try to promote buying less, but good quality items that will last you ages. Our minimalist style enables our customer to mix and match with a variety of other styles as well. 

How have you incorporated environmentally conscious principles into your work?

All miDeer products are hand-made in Estonia. It isn’t and will never be a mass-produced brand. We value collaborating with local artisans in our design process and embrace the tiny quirks of each single item. Secondly, we always pay attention to where our materials come from. Right now, we use excess pieces from a felt factory. This way we can reduce the amount of industrial material that ends up in the environment — by giving new life to the discarded leftovers. What makes our production unique is that we do not mass produce, but make just enough, so that we get to further reuse the materials by creating fashionable accessories. If we think about the future, then the miDeer’s shopping bags, in particular, can effectively replace plastic equivalents in a stylish manner. 

How did you come up with such interesting name, miDeer? 

We wanted to create something Nordic and minimalist, inspired by the Northern cold climate and the power of nature. To be honest, the logo came before the name. The deer’s horns are majestic, yet strong and powerful — perfect depiction of a unisex Nordic brand. Our name quite directly comes from ‘deer’. It’s something precious and unobtainable in nature, but you can grasp an equivalent feel via our products. 

Unisex looks, felt and paper meet in your design. How did you decide to go down the route of such eclectic mix?

The main source of inspiration for the brand is felt, which already speaks to both men and women. A unisex-look wasn’t our goal on it’s own, it just accidentally turned out that way — our first [laptop] bag appealed to both [men and women alike], and then it clicked for us. Nowadays minimalism and unisex design are often seen side by side. The soft texture, yet stiff form of industrial felt make our products durable and help keep their shape. We felt that unisex was written in between the lines, as felt has both feminine and masculine qualities. We like to think that miDeer wearers are free-spirited, brave, fashion-forward people, regardless their age or gender.  

"We value collaborating with local artisans in our design process and embrace the tiny quirks of each single item." 

Photo: Jake Farra.

Photo: Jake Farra.

 What can we look forward to in 2017?

This year we will definitely focus more on fashion and accessories. miDeer will be creating new designs for people who lead an active lifestyle, yet value comfort. So there are great things coming up for the active urban dweller. 

Despite being a small company, we want to become a player on the international arena. Clients in Berlin, London and Vilnius have shown keen interest, and we cannot wait to make our products more accessible all over Europe. We have a few exciting surprises in store, so stay in tuned and keep an eye on our website!

Shop here:

http://mideer.eu

KHIS Design Baths: A More Natural, Luxury Bathing Experience

Sometimes a fleeting moment of relaxation is all we need. What better way to unwind than losing the sense of time whilst soaking in an indulging hot bath? Bathing is an ancient sensory ritual – a simple way to slow down and take a break from the daily hustle. In Estonia, KHIS Design bathtubs are here to transform your bathing experience in a natural way. Their custom-made wood baths are a unique staple - a subtle statement piece to complement your cosy indoors solutions. We sat down with Frants Seer, the founder of KHIS Design Baths, and touched upon slow living from a slightly different perspective.

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

Frants Seer, founder of KHIS, 2017. 

Frants Seer, founder of KHIS, 2017. 

How did the journey of KHIS begin? Did you background direct you in any way?

One’s scholarly background is often boring. I always like to say that I have learned mountain-skiing, which is a great passion of mine. KHIS actually stems from my personal interest in woodcraft. That’s how and why I learned. I honestly became a designer overnight. I began to build myself a home and there it all began. 

How did you come to this idea of creating high-quality wooden baths?

As I mentioned, I was building my home and I really wanted such a bath in it. From that personal desire, or need, we created the first prototype. We put a lot of hard work into creating [the first bathtub], so that it made sense to me to make something bigger out of it. Despite there being other wood-bath manufacturers around the world, such technological solutions [like ours] don’t exist elsewhere. But again, we did put a lot of effort into achieving this durable product. 

"One’s scholarly background is often boring. I always like to say that I have learned mountain-skiing, which is a great passion of mine."

'Eternal KHIS' wooden bathtub.

'Eternal KHIS' wooden bathtub.

We support environmentally conscious consumption. How does KHIS follow the principles of sustainable design?

Now, I’m not 100% sure, but I believe sustainable design means that you have something that’s consumer-friendly, durable, and made out of a renewable resource. That’s what we have tried to follow as well - to create something that lasts for decades and is of the best quality. We use thermally-processed Nordic ash. In addition, the post-processing finish is natural, either with natural linen seed oil or hot waxing. .

What’s your idea of design?

Less is more. Similarly to Nordic design, the less you use to make the most practical product you can - that’s the key. Of course, my tastes have changed over time. I often worked with antique furniture, because of the environment the building or apartment is surrounded by. But now, somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m dreaming of a self-sustainable house with glass walls somewhere remote in the middle of the woods.

"Similarly to Nordic design, the less you use to make the most practical product you can  that’s the key."

Who or what is KHIS?

For us, it means the feeling you get when you come into contact with wood. When your skin touches that naturally finished wood surface - it creates a sense of warmth. Naturally, it took a while before we settled for a specific name. We were looking for something short, yet memorable. It comes from the word ‘kiss’, as you might be able to tell. Our bath models actually refer to it as well - First Khis, Eternal Khis, Natural Khis. It just felt right and it stuck with us.

Bathing is all about the sensory experience. I, for example, love to listen to relaxing music when taking a bath. If KHIS baths could play music, what would the play?

I have actually thought about this before. It has to be classical music. Like ‘Four Seasons’ by Vivaldi. That’s how I imagine it at least. 

Finally, let’s dream a little. What are your dreams for 2017?

You know, this year has kicked off well. I think we will look into expanding our sales to China and other parts of Asia. Hopefully that will work out.

http://www.khisbath.com/

HIIS Design Furniture: Interior Solutions with an Eternal Stamp

Looking for something to light up your interior design dreams? Something timeless, yet modern? Something bold, yet subtle? Estonia-based HIIS Design furniture stunned us with their effortlessly elegant design furniture made sustainably, with a dash of care and love. To shed light on HIIS Design’s innovative creations, young furniture maker Tõnis-Sander Maarits opened us a door to his creative workshop...

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

HIIS Design furniture, 2016. 

HIIS Design furniture, 2016. 

What’s your personal take on furniture? What makes a piece of furniture excellent?

The attractive outline, not only at the shop or in pictures, but in the interior where it’s used. Comfort and simplicity, while having down-to-the-tiny-detail design and quality combined, make a piece of furniture a great one. Something made from heart is not just another piece of furniture, but creates an exquisite experience in a room. Take a table, for example – it’s not just some thing to sit and dine at, but it creates a heartwarming shared experience with your friends and family. Good design can help enhance that feeling. 

How does HIIS Design apply ethical practises in your workshop? What’s particularly important for you?

The most important thing in furniture manufacturing is that quality and timeless design [are there]. When a design piece lasts you ages, fitting in with the old and the new, it becomes an environmentally sustainable piece. HIIS Design is for someone who values quality and wants an enduring piece of furniture to bring into their interior that lasts for years. We aim to create furniture that can be the anchor-point in a room, around which you can design everything else. 

As wood production can be harmful for our environment, we make sure to use FSC certified wood as our resource. For Hiis Design, it’s of high importance we use consciously produced wood to ensure forests lasts for future generations. That also reflects in our name (’hiis’ in Estonian translates to ’ancient grove’).

"We aim to create furniture that can be the anchor-point in a room, around which you can design everything else."

HIIS Design furniture, 2016. 

HIIS Design furniture, 2016. 

Is there a personal story… how did HIIS Design come to be?

As a young boy, I used to make ships and other toys in my father’s wood workshop, hammer and chisel in hand. When I was 13, we moved to a new house and I didn’t have any furniture in my new room. That’s when I decided to design and make my own furniture. I made a pretty good bed, which gave me more drive to build other things, like a closet. Every summer I used to earn pocket money from furniture making and restoration. At first, in 2013, fresh out of university, I started my own custom-made furniture workshop, but I always felt like it was not enough for me to build things designed by other people. I began to experiment more with my own designs and one thing led to another, as they say. In spring 2016, HIIS Design was brought to life. 

“Take a table, for example – it’s not just some thing to sit and dine at, but it creates a heartwarming shared experience with your friends and family. Good design can help enhance that feeling.”

HIIS Design furniture, 2016. 

HIIS Design furniture, 2016. 

With regards to environmental protection, how do you imagine the future of furniture design?

Endurance is what makes furniture environmentally friendly. An oak table will last generations, unlike a cheap mass produced equivalent from melamine. A toxin-rich piece of furniture will last 10 years at most. But an oak table will last you until a new, baby-oak is growing, reducing environmental damage. More materials will be used, of course, and a lot of new solutions to battle space deficiency. However, we must not undermine natural materials and living in harmony with nature. I find that people are starting to value earthiness and natural things even more [in furniture design]. Families with kids, especially, want to be able to make more sustainable choices when choosing products for their homes. 

If your brand has a soundtrack, then what would it be like and why? 

The first song that popped up in my head was ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC. Probably because I often listen to that song, when I start my day at the workshop. It creates a nice energy and gets you going for the day. But that’s only a small part of our brand. HIIS Design’s soundtrack would be ‘Spiegel im spiegel’ by Arvo Pärt (Grammy-winning Estonian composer), because when I listen to that piece I find myself in a powerful state of creativity. As the title suggests, a mirror against a mirror reflects into infinity, the same way inspiration has no boundaries. 

"A mirror against a mirror reflects into infinity, the same way inspiration has no boundaries."

Where do you draw inspiration from for new pieces?

Inspiration can strike at any moment, which is why I always carry a notebook along. Even a quick sketch right there in the moment can be a life-saver of a striking flash-idea. I feel like inspiration is deep inside of us, piling up in our sub-conscience since childhood, and is often brought onto the surface again by some small trigger in our adulthood. It’s important to capture those moments and know how to fuel them. I like to get my creativity flowing by going through old books, magazines and websites. Other times, I draw inspiration when watching a movie or a TV show – like Mad Men, where the 60s American-style surroundings can fire up some great memories.

http://www.hiisdesign.com/

Sleep In Bliss: Responsbily Made Sleeping Masks by ÖÖLOOM

It’s very easy for sleep to become an insignificant, routine activity. Yet we all know that good sleep is essential for our physical well-being and sanity. I am a resident sleepyhead. So when I spotted Estonian brand Ööloom’s (literally ‘night animal’) range at the store, I was immediately in awe. A company dedicated solely to provide people with a great sleeping experience with their soft animal-shaped sleeping masks – what more could you want? To top it all off, their products are responsibly made and locally-sourced. I felt like I needed to introduce Ööloom to all the professional nappers out there. Mihkel Virkus, resident visionary and a rigorous sleeper at Ööloom, answered our most haunting questions. 

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

'Fox Girl' by Ööloom, 2016. 

'Fox Girl' by Ööloom, 2016. 

It’s not every day that we see a new brand dedicated to great and sustainable sleeping gear. What inspired you to launch a sleeping mask line? 

Quite true. You don’t see many distinct sleeping brands. I guess people tend to take sleep for granted much of the time. 

This kind of ties in with the origin story of Ööloom. The thing is, many people view sleeping as a passive act. You just close your eyes, and don’t worry about the rest of it. But the reality is that you actually go on breath-taking adventures inside your own mind. Just because you grow stronger and become rested doing it, doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing.

We think that the dream world and the human capacity for imagination should be celebrated and to that end a regular sleeping mask just won’t do. The Ööloom sleeping mask stands as an active reminder of the silliness that your brain can muster up.

Ööloom unicorn mask with packaging, 2016.  

Ööloom unicorn mask with packaging, 2016. 

Who is Ööloom?

Ööloom is a creature of the night. The friendly kind, of course. He is mysterious, but never frightening, like a hedgehog in the fog. He acts as a sort of an ambassador for the seemingly unreasonable dream-world – delivering fresh and unconventional ideas to our rational and, dare I say, dull reality. The word itself comes from the Estonian language. It loosely translates into “night owl”, a person who tends to stay up quite late. But we ourselves prefer the literal translation – “night beast”.

"The ÖÖLOOM sleeping mask stands as an active reminder of the silliness that your brain can muster up."

I love napping on couches and when I’m travelling. Where is your favourite place to nap?

Ahh yes — couches are fantastic. I’m a big fan. But I’d say it’s not about where you fall asleep that interests me the most. It’s what kind of a world you dream yourself into. I once napped into a parallel reality situated inside the imagination of a blueberry pie. It was a pretty sweet dream.

Variety of Ööloom sleeping masks, 2016. 

Variety of Ööloom sleeping masks, 2016. 

Your products are made in Estonia, using locally sourced materials. Conscious production is something we strongly care about. What is your take on it? Do you think more companies should produce ethically made products?

We at Ööloom spend a great deal of time in the subconscious or unconscious, depending on your understanding of how sleeping works. As a matter of principle, we aim to be very conscious about our actions while we are awake. 

A lot of the raw magical power of our products come from the way we make them. The sheep that provide the wool are hand-fed, the felt is hand-made from the wool and the masks are hand-sewn by a small army of lovely ladies. The love and care that is put in, reflects in the finished product.

"Many people view sleeping as a passive act. You just close your eyes, and don’t worry about the rest of it. But the reality is that you actually go on breath-taking adventures inside your own mind."

The importance of locally sourced materials for us is very much a part of the brand. It’s the cold Nordic environment that has made us, Estonians, so creative. The first Estonians that arrived here had to figure out how to build a fire on top of frozen water before they could go to bed. That’s not easy. This has made Estonians more appreciative of sleep and we believe that local materials carry that same appreciation within them.

There is definitely a trend towards more ethical ways of manufacturing. I think it has a lot to do with the ever-growing amount of information available. About the producers as well as to the consumers. It’s easier now to know where, how and by whom, the stuff is actually made. 

For us it’s a no-brainer. As a consistent brand that values happiness, we need to know that the journey of the wool from the belly of a sheep to the face of a human is a happy one as well.

Ööloom panda sleeping mask, 2016. 

Ööloom panda sleeping mask, 2016. 

You have a few endangered species featured in your line of night animals. Where did that idea stem from and will we see more in the future? 

Yes, that’s right. The “endangered species” is a category in the e-store (ooloomstore.com) for the animal sleeping masks that are no longer in active production. The reason is that we want to keep the main collection at 10 different animals, so that the already tired and sleepy person looking for a mask wouldn’t be overwhelmed by choices. We introduce new animals fairly slowly. Maybe one or two new faces a year, the most recent one being a black fox. The older ones fall out of the ‘current collection’ and remain in the ‘endangered species’ category – available only online. We just didn’t have the heart to cancel their production altogether because in our world no animal should go extinct. Imaginary or otherwise.

"It’s not about where you fall asleep that interests me the most. It’s what kind of a world you dream yourself into."

What does Ööloom dream about? 

Ööloom dreams about many things. The most common and reoccurring dream is one of total world domination. I’m not an expert in dream interpretation. But this probably reflects the ambition of the company and our own plans for total world domination – achieved not by force, but by the creative use of happiness, whimsy, and dangerously cute sleeping gear.

See more:

Ööloom sleeping masks exclusively featured in our Conscious Gift Guide.

https://ooloomstore.com