Interview with Jeppe Dencker from Leather Projects

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Mr. Jeppe Dencker is the man and mind behind the company LEATHER PROJECTS.
As the name suggests, Mr. Dencker centers on projects made from leather.
In his recently opened combined shop and workshop, he crafts all sorts of leather accessories in the highest quality possible.
On a warm summer Tuesday in July, we met with Mr. Dencker in his charming workshop on Nansensgade for a chat about old military equipment, education and the lack of sketching skills.
Here’s the outcome.

What was your favorite subject in elementary school?

“History was definitely my great love in elementary school, and I believe that I’ve brought the love for this subject into my work. I’ve always had a thing for everything that happened in the past, and through my work I try to find my way back to the proud traditions that lie within my craftsmanship.”

What did you want to become while growing up?
“As a matter a fact, I’ve actually always believed that I was going to become an archeologist. I’ve always found this particular field very interesting, but somehow I got away from that thought. When I get to thinking, I actually never thought about becoming a craftsman of any kind, but I’ve always appreciated very much when people practiced something they were particular good at.”

Are you educated within your craftsmanship?

“No, I’m utterly and completely autodidact. I believe that my inner geek has led me to where I am today. I really love to dig deep, and I spend endless hours of finding just materials I want to work with. In the early beginning of Leather Projects i spent a vast number of hours deciding and defining my own way of sewing in leather. Everything down to every little detail is decided and defined by me. It was actually never my intention to create a company – I just wanted to create a great product.”

So, what made you found Leather Projects?

“Oh, that’s an easy one. Need.
The idea of Leather Projects actually took off when I needed a wallet for myself. I couldn’t really find a wallet out on the market that matched my needs and high expectations to quality, so I decided to start making my very own. The first results weren’t exactly a pleasure for the eye, so I kept on perfecting the wallet up until I reached a result I could find acceptable.
While perfecting this wallet, I developed a passion and an unlimited love for working with leather, which eventually culminated in the founding of Leather Projects.”

What was the last tool you’ve bought?

“Uhm, the last tool I bought was a pair of compasses to draw on leather, and I bought it on an antique market in Paris a couple of weeks ago. I actually already have three new ones, so I didn’t necessarily need another one in my tool selection, but I just fell hard for this particular one. It’s very beautiful, and the woman who sold it to me explained that it was from about the year 1890. Naturally it has a lot of history, and to continue working with such an old tool is just an honor for me. Honestly.”

Where do you mainly find your inspiration?

“Well, this might seem like a cliché for designers, but I find military equipment very inspiring. I especially find older military equipment very inspiring, and I buy up every old military bag I can get my hands on. Besides the minimalism in older military equipment, I like that everything has a function, and that a particular item serves just the purpose it was meant to.
I’m doing my best to incorporate this mindset in my products, where I seek elegance and simplicity. I’m not too happy about flashy details, no, I like that every little detail serves a purpose. If it’s not functional, it won’t be on my products.”

Which one of you own products are you proudest of?

“Oh, that’s a tough one, it’s hard to pick just one out, but I recently just came up with a travel wallet, which I’m quite fond of. The process of making this travel wallet was actually quite different from how I usually design my products. You see, normally, I don’t really put much thought into the design of a given product, I just start working with the material and then the design appears before me. However, this time was different and with a specific wish to design a travel wallet, I sought the combination of the wallet and the credit card holder in a new product. Though this process was quite unusual and rare for me, I found it great fun and definitely liked how it developed me as a craftsman and a designer.”

We’ve already talked a little about it, but could you shortly describe your creative work process – from idea to product?

“Yes…it might be slightly different from other designers, because I don’t master the art of sketching. But when I have an idea for a new product, I completely think out every little detail of the product. I know exactly how it should look and how every little detail should be presented. Then I need to work with the material right away to get a feeling of the possible new product. So if I were to craft a new wallet or an iPad cover, I know how it should look. Then I start to work with the material, get to the sewing process and first THEN I can start to see what works, and what doesn’t.
I guess you can say that my work process is a bit reversed if you compare it to other designers. My prototype is my sketch so to say.”

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