Born of Argentinean musicians and raised in a “funky household,” Mission-based leather goods designer and burner Basil Racuk is intent upon “the idea of embodying your life.” He shares this principle with his clients by engaging them in his bespoke process, where bags and accessories are custom-crafted through the well-honed art of conversation, the openness of creative minds, and the dexterity of Racuk’s two hands. It was my privilege to collaborate with the crafstman on a bag that does more than function perfectly in my daily life—it speaks of where I’ve come from, and where I’m going next.
For my “Chloé” bag, we selected a soft saddle leather (reminiscent of a vintage jacket that once belonged to my mother) and an experimental indigo dying process. The final result is a rocky pattern that reminds me of the Southwestern landscape of my youth.
“The nuances of design collaboration occur when two people are together,” says Racuk, who sketched the “Chloé” bag while we talked in his 18th Street atelier.
“Putting pencil to paper to create a pattern allows me time to consider the piece in a deeper way,” he explains. “As I’m building my shape on paper, I’m also strategically thinking about how the pattern pieces will need to be constructed for the best result. Ovid once said, ‘Make the workmanship pass the materials.’"
The designer’s color chart.
Racuk soaks leather panels in a pitcher of indigo dye, which he refills for three days, in a process he calls “synchronistic.” The result is unknown until the end, allowing for uniqueness and spontaneity in each design.“It’s very Northern Californian—we like to let things occur naturally,” he says.
A leaf-shaped handle attachment.
The artist cross-stitches his handle closures.
This article was published in 7x7's February 2015 issue. Click here to subscribe.