The delicate forms of Handmade Sam*Made’s signature products are once subtle and impactful, a modernist spin on Finnish himmeli, traditionally used as Christmas tree ornaments. In the Handmade Sam*Made version, spiky angles meet tubular brushed metal for home decor that’s not quickly forgotten. We spoke to Seattle-based founder Samantha Leung to learn more about how her himmeli came into being.
What inspired you to start making himmeli?
I love the idea of modernizing traditions. To take something that has been around for hundreds of years and to reinterpret that for our current world. That is why I make himmeli. Himmeli are a traditional Finnish ornament. My designs are a modern-minimalist take on their tradition.
I created this brand as an outlet for my creativity. I love the notion that something exists in the world because I exist. That is what drives me.
What’s your background? Were you always a designer?
I’m originally from Chicago, and I went to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa for a B.A. in Law Politics and Society. I have minors in Sociology, Politics, Law, and Art. My education and path from the age of seven was to become an attorney, but after spending a year teaching and traveling all over China, I knew that it wouldn’t be the place for me.
Ultimately, I’ve been a maker my entire life; from wood burning at the age of six to developing my own film at fourteen I like to say that my ability to create stems from my intense curiosity.
Why did you keep manufacturing in the United States as opposed to overseas?
People, family, friends, and even other makers have all told me that I could easily get my products made abroad. I believe them, but I also believe in living a purposeful life, and living with positive intention. When it comes to what I make, I don’t believe in mass production in nameless factories.
I appreciate the handmade, the artist behind an object and the artistry and skill that goes into each piece, which is why I personally hand make each and every piece. I believe if you care about what you are making, that sentiment can be felt in the object.