MEET THE MAKER: PHILLIPUS PUTTER
Katto exists to enable and celebrate people who, like us, make thing by hand. Which is why we love working with London-based leatherworkers, Putter & Co for our bespoke leather scabbards.
Here we sit down with the company's founder, Phillipus Putter, to talk craftsmanship, sustainability and bondage gear (no, seriously).
Katto (K): Where did your idea for Putter & Co come from?
Phillipus Putter (PP): It started as lots of small businesses do - with a passion and a few supportive friends. I’ve always enjoyed making things using my hands and when I discovered leather working, it was a revelation. It’s such a beautiful, versatile and elegant material; so when friends started asking for wallets, bags and dog collars I couldn’t say no. It really grew from there, and today we’re lucky enough to send our products around the World.
K: What inspires your designs and approach to hand making?
PP: Whilst I do have a limited selection of my own products, almost every piece is bespoke and based on the client’s vision. That said, I’m constantly inspired by the craftsmanship and skills used by traditional leatherworkers. Most of our techniques - from the way we dye, cut, stitch and finish leather - haven’t changed for hundreds of years. And whilst modern technology unquestionably has its benefits; sometimes the old ways are the best.
K: So what’s the weirdest thing someone has asked you to make?
PP: I’d stop short of saying it’s ‘weird’; but over the years we’ve had lots and lots of requests for, how should I put this? Let’s say, “intimate leather clothing and accessories”.
Katto's bespoke leather scabbard by Putter & Co.
K: Do you mean bondage gear?
PP: Well sort of - this is probably the wrong platform for too much detail; but put it this way - you can't buy this stuff in H&M...The money on offer was terrific; but it’s such specific, sensitive work that I decided to stick to wallets and bags.
K: Fair enough! Moving swiftly on - what’s your approach to sustainability, particularly given that leather is an animal product?
PP: Working as sustainably as possible - whether in terms of animal welfare or the climate impacts of animal husbandry - is something that we take very, very seriously. We’re fastidious in our selection of suppliers and strictly avoid those with questionable practices or pricing. Above all, though, we try to make products that last. We want to help people buy fewer, better quality products. Take a Katto scabbard for example. Even if it breaks (which is highly unlikely), it can be fixed. You don't need to buy more than one.
K: How did you find working on Katto’s knife scabbards?
PP: It’s been great fun to design and manufacture something so unique. Working with bladed objects obviously presents certain challenges and I was conscious of not over-engineering the scabbard. I wanted to create something simple and elegant; but also safe. It was tricky; but I’m really pleased with our solution. We worked very closely with the Katto team to create something that works perfectly for them, so I definitely see it more like a collaboration. And on a personal note, it’s a huge pleasure to work with like-minded people who appreciate the importance of hand making.
Katto's bespoke leather cocktail wrap by Putter & Co.
K: And what about our cocktail kits?
PP: The cocktail kits! They were definitely a labour of love. The challenge was to create something which was large enough to house the knife, muddler and spoon; but which was also small enough for professional bartenders and mixologists. On a busy night these folks are dashing around making drinks - the last thing they need is cumbersome kit. So it was a balance; but I’m delighted with the result. Plus the project did provide an excuse for a few too many negronis - or ‘research’ as I called it - so it wasn’t all bad.
K: What’s next for Putter & Co?
PP: Ideally we’d continue to make interesting things for customers who care. It sounds deeply unfashionable; but we’re not after huge growth or scale. We’d just like to continue producing products I’m proud of - always by hand and always in Britain.