Artisan leatherworker Basil Racuk

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By Anna Peirano

Walking into the burnt forests of Hydra in Greece, Basil Racuk wandered far and lost his way as night began to fall on the charred and barren landscape. Unable to find his way back, deep into the night, he began to nod off, unsure if he would get back to his job as a designer at Banana Republic in San Francisco. He promised himself that if he did make it home, he would change his life and start his own venture.ӬӬAfter the sun rose, Racuk found his path. He still works as a designer, now for GAP, but his promise to himself is fulfilled on weekends and after hours in his studio.

Designing leather goods for both men and women, Racuk draws his inspiration from the sands of Burning Man, to the forests of his revelation, to the rugged California coast. Racuk calls on the raw nature of his materials, leaving behind more urban cuts and branding.

 

He begins most of his pieces with a familiar shape –the slouch boho bag, the rigid briefcase, the average portfolio – but then finds a unique and sophisticated perspective. Racuk has chosen an unconventional marketing path. He works to create intimate relationships between his pieces and their purchasers.

 

After working for larger brands, Racuk has enjoyed the process of building a brand from scratch. Unless you look closely, you’re likely to miss the small embossed design all together, as it lacks any color differentiation, and is usually placed in an unobtrusive location. Racuk has managed to build a brand from the thread and leather of his materials alone.

 

A particular bolt of leather may come in, or a certain dye job might produce something unique, which inspires a certain final form. With his two apprentices, he cuts raw leather on the mirrored table of his living space, and hand stitches liners made from sumptuous materials like velvet and silk.”¨ “¨The leather itself may have been dyed through a variety of methods. From a beautiful indigo blue paint which creates a unique striation upon the material, to dying the leather in anything from wine to coffee.

 

Racuk grew up in the suburbs of Concord, California, where as a child he trolled the thrift shops and flea markets of the East Bay. He moved to New York and apprenticed with a Dutch designer.

 

“When you interact with others, you perceive yourself” Racuk said. He builds bags according to the client, tweaking what they wish: stitching, coloration, handles and straps.

 

“I love when a customer gets involved in the design process. When I can stand with them face to face and ask, ‘What do you think?'”

Visit his site at www.basilracuk.com

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