Though Artecnica was founded in 1986 to provide architectural and interior design services, the company has grown into an internationally recognized source for inventive design products from new and established designers, including Tord Boontje, Hella Jongerius and the Campana Brothers. They've pioneered modern classics, like Rich Brilliant Willing's Bright Side Lights, as well as iconic contemporary designs like Clara von Zweigbergk's Themis Mono Mobile.
Ten years ago Artecnica founded Design With Conscience, "a program to manufacture and produce products in accordance with humanitarian and environmentally friendly principles." For the past decade they've paired designers with talented artisans in underdeveloped countries to develop a "competitive product that will encourage the survival of indigenous craft."
Past products include a bowl made from natural wicker and repurposed scooter tires, a line of organic, soy-based candles hand-poured into one-of-a-kind glass containers and tranSglass, a follow-up glass collection of vases that's now part of MoMA's permanent collection and one of the Artecnica's best-selling products.
For this year's collaboration they worked with the graphic design firm Studio Lin (who did United Bamboo's cat calendar, the American Design Club's logo and the visual identity for Core77's 2011 Design Awards) and Homeboy Industries, the largest gang prevention program in the US, to produce a line of tote bags that Artecnica is calling their "most provocative Design With Conscience project to date." For the past 25 years Homeboy Industries has provided employment and rehabilitation services like counseling and tattoo removal to ex-gang members and at-risk youths (approximately 12,000 each year). The canvas totes are screenprinted by ex-gang members with their original calligraphy, featuring slogans like "Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job," "Hard Work Is Easier Than Hard Time" and "We're A Whole Lot More Than The Worst We've Ever Done."
We know that with everyone from your corner grocer to your bank handing out free totes like it'll save the world, you might not be compelled to actually spend money on one, but if there are classes of tote bags these are top of the line. The canvas is thick and durable, the strap length is perfect and there's even a pocket on the inside. Plus, it supports a truly worthwhile project, and who can't get behind that?
When Perrin isn't scouting the best new design talent for Core77, or working as the Products Editor of The Architect's Newspaper, or writing for Cool Hunting, Design Applause, Print Magazine, Frieze and The Paris Review, she's trying to put her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College to good use.