Minimalist, Wunderlust Lifestyle Captured in Functional Works of Art

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Sol Designs

When you enter into the space of SOL Designs, you encounter perfectly balanced objects. Intricate as they are simple, each piece combines thoughtful combinations of felt, wood, metal, linoleum, and leather. The designer behind these objects is Sol Desharnais of St. Pierre, who specializes in handbags and home accessories with elegant, minimalist lines that he sells in markets across Canada.

Currently Desharnais carries two main lines. The first is a handbag line with five different models ranging from a small hand clutch to a large attaché case. Leather handbags are locally sourced from Manitoba leather whenever possible.

Though many appreciate the locally-made aspect, Desharnais also accommodates popular requests for a vegan model.

“I doodled at it for a while,” says Desharnais. “Then, since I was already using linoleum flooring to do my samples instead of cutting into leather, I just looked at my samples and thought ‘These rock! They work!’”

The epiphany launched a fun linoleum line that took off in Quebec City early this year.

Desharnais credits his artistically rich background for where he is today. “I’ve worked in theatre set design and film as well. At the age of 18 I was a fashion designer and I designed the patchwork sweaters in the Exchange District in Winnipeg.”

He also co-owned and managed a restaurant in the foothills of the Alps in France for 12 years and worked with his father as a carpenter for three years. When you inspect the wooden sides of a SOL Designs handbag, you’ll quickly appreciate the influence of fine European woodwork.

For those less inclined to buy handbags, SOL Designs also creates two unique household items. One is the quirky catch-all bowl, made with corn and wood-based eco felt.

“These start off flat and they are beautifully packaged and snap up into a great little catch-all bowls for keys, coins, or jewellery,” he says. “They are a perfect gift item and stocking stuffer as they go for $20 or $25. They also make great secret Santa gifts and they are gender neutral and appreciated with both older and younger crowds.”

The second item that’s gained quite a following is the wine tote. It is also made with eco felt and additionally makes use of an upcycled seatbelt that serves as the handle.

Unlike many other artisans, Desharnais has passed on the online storefront for now, favouring in-person markets so he can maintain the simplicity of a work-life balance.

A wanderlust at heart, he says, “I travel three to four months a year, which is my downtime when I recharge my batteries. I’m able to come back fresh and open-minded and be more in the creative space and less in the heady gotta-work, go-go-go headspace.”

Don’t worry. If you didn’t run into SOL Designs at the Winnipeg markets this year, you can still find freshly stocked items at The Forks Trading Company at The Forks Market in Winnipeg. You can also stay connected with SOL Designs on Facebook, where you can browse a portfolio of catch-all bowls, wine totes, and handbags.

For more information

www.facebook.com/soldesignsbys...

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