The Very Last of the Very Best
Recently we came across this beautiful and inspirational project by the Bergen, Norway-based Of and With Studios. They recently released a collection of leather bags crafted from the last batch of leathers ever tanned on Osterøy Island, Norway. The project started in the summer of 2010, when they met Erling Teigland, initially to find out if there were grounds for a collaboration. Erling had worked at the Borge tannery since he came out of high school in 1970. Unfortunately only months after the first meeting between Of and With and Erling, he had his last day at work, because the world-renowned tannery was forced to shut its doors. The company that had been tanning since 1889, quietly supplying the finest names in high-end goods, from Louis Vuitton and Hermès to entire African royal families was no more. This moment sparked the ambition to start a journey to honor sincere and joyful craftsmen like Erling and the fine tradition that Borge represented. A journey that continued on to eventually become the first in-house lifestyle brand by Of and With Studios named Ætt.
There was nothing about the warm breeze that gentle July morning that spoke of the piece of history about to conclude inside the walls of Borge Tannery, beautifully situated in a still corner of majestic Osterfjord, Western Norway. After tanning leathers in serene surroundings for 120 years, the world-renowned tannery had been forced out of business just a couple of weeks earlier, leaving 70 people unemployed. This morning marked the last day of production, with only a handful employees present, quietly doing what they had always done; carefully crafting the finest leathers available. In midst of what for most people would have been one of the most distressful situations of their life, stood tanner Erling Teigland (60), only a few years short of retirement. Smiling.
Ever since he was a teenager, Erling had spent his days by the salmon-rich river in Lonevåg, tanning leathers for the most selective customers in the world. Now, fourty years later, a lifelong effort in service of quality and craftmanship was about to come to a conclusion. Yet, Erling smiled, and rather than dwelling on what was no more, instead spoke vividly of his appreciation for what he had been given in life; the true finer things. To be at home in nature itself, to nurture a craft with your own two hands, and the precious gift of going to work every morning.
The conclusion of Borge sparked the heartfelt idea; to honor their story with a memorial last batch bag collection, using short interview clips and still life visuals to tell their story. Launched together with three short film teasers this spring, the full collection of ‘Erling’ bags commemorate the retirement of Erling Teigland, who had worked at Borge his entire life and through the bags will live on in the memory of the people who will use the beautiful bags.