Welcome to the second instalment of ShopTalk. Recently, we were lucky enough to explore the world Metsa. After getting a sneak peek of Metsa designs via lost&found (which we have also covered here), I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised when Metsa-owner-designer-operator, Markus Uran, answered the door to his apartment (which is also the Metsa studio and showroom) stating ‘quick, before the cats get out.’ Just standing in his apartment gives you an initial sense of who Markus Uran really is: quirky design pieces, tidy disorganization, what-seemed-to-be an entire library of books, and my personal fav, two playful black cats, who helped themselves to a place on our laps as we worked.
The name Metsa is appropriately taken from the Estonian phrase, ‘minu väike mets a maja,’ meaning ‘my little house in the forest’. “I am interested in creating a lifestyle brand. It’s even having people here and them seeing I live with two cats…these elements need to come out [in my designs] or else it becomes diluted and customers don’t understand the narrative behind the garments,” Markus tells us.
There was a humble passion (cough, nerdiness) in the way Markus speaks about design, who at one moment broke his sentence to run over to a piece on his wall of a New York Subway Line created in the ’70s. He described in such detail elements that most would overlook. It is this knowledge of graphic design that is adopted into the way each garment is created. “When I started working as a graphic designer a lot of…design principles became a lot more obvious through things like type and layout. [These principles] are applied to the clothes I make… I do still think about the right proportions, is it too boring, does it balance well, where can I throw in more tension,” he explains.
What appears on the outside as ‘high-end basics’ are in actuality the furthest thing from simply basic. The process is incredibly involved, right down to the tag which is also designed by Uran. “It’s almost like an unwillingness to let go. I want to ensure that everything is the way that I like it…[that everything] is consistent. That’s what total design is: an entire process”.
The craft process, to Uran, will sometimes begin with something he sees in a book. However, the idea does not simply jump off of the pages into a design, but could require a ‘lunch down the street and a walk home with ice cream’ to get the process started. Often finding something that is traditional and giving it a modern-flip, Uran creates items that are familiar but foreign all at the same time, such as his ‘cement pearls’. “I am interested in processes that have been forgotten about and making it modern. It seems people now care more about the process of things,” he tells us.
Perhaps the most interesting space in this Harbord street apartment was the Metsa studio where everything is created (unless ‘the weather’s good [he’ll] go up to the cottage’). A variety of natural dyes inhabit the shelves by the entrance, such as pomegranate, iron, logwood, and indigo. After having us smell each dye, we were taught the craft of mixing to achieve certain colours and shades and, most importantly, that indigo has the redolence of ‘fermented piss’.
It seems that Uran is so heavily involved in crafting his work that perhaps he hasn’t the time left for shopping? “To be honest, I haven’t shopped in months…years!” he tells us. “But my favourite places would be the usual suspects like Nomad, lost&found, Haven – that store is bananas, and Mjölk, my favourite store in the world!
Markus is someone who is inspired by the little things, who yearns to maintain a true-to-his-life brand, who creates housewears with his mom, and who invites people like us into his home; his space- Metsa.
View photos in the gallery above:
Photos: Cornelia Baptista and Lindsey Omelon