Iris Hantverk Brushes – Ethical Swedish Production Since 1906
When we are considering a manufacturer for selection on Bear & Bear we initially look for great, robust, attractive design for a functional product. Iris Hantverk immediately fitted these criteria, excelling with the effortlessly minimalist aesthetics that you’d expect from a Scandinavian brand. However, there is also an amazing story behind their production. To this day, Iris Hantverk brushes are manufactured by a small team of 14 people including 5 visually impaired workmen using mainly natural materials.
The company was formed from a partnership with a visually impaired organisation that has roots as far back as 1870, when Dr Axel Beskov formed the Manilla School – a workhouse for visually impaired craftsmen. Their salary made up 75% of the sales, but the working hours were 6am – 9pm.
In 1889, a group of workmen formed “De blindas förening”, an independent organisation aimed at helping the visually impaired to be less isolated from society (maybe reduce those working hours…?). A lot of their work was focused on support for these artisans in the production of brushes and in 1902 they initiated collective purchasing for materials to achieve some scale in the production. In 1906, a property was purchased on Majorsgatan 12. It comprised of an office and library, as well as a brush-binding factory, a warehouse for raw materials, sales of raw material, and a shop. From these beginnings Iris Hantverk was born.
Whilst the design of Iris Hantverk brushes has evolved significantly, the technique that is used today does not differ much from the traditional methods used over 100 years ago. The quality of the production is evident in every single article that passes through the hands of these skilled craftsmen.
This strangely captivating video shows the artisinal manufacturing process of a few different types of Iris Hantverk brush and will certainly give you a newfound respect for the entire process:
Are housework implements the coolest thing you can buy? Probably not, but they are something you need. We believe it’s vital that you have the best ones we can find and that you’re also supporting a great cause. Iris Hantverk brushes have been in production for generations and we are proud to be one of a select group of retailers offering them in the UK: