interviews by 24

Maker Stories: Bookhou

I have a serious soft spot (see: envy) for couples that work together creatively. When I found out that Canadian brand Bookhou At Home was a husband-and-wife duo, it sealed the deal. John and Arounna’s hand-printed textiles are made one at a time in their Toronto studio, which happens to be built into the back of their brick and mortar store (another dream of mine). It seems there’s nothing they can’t do — their product range includes everything from wooden mobiles (the wooden creations are John’s handiwork) and textiles for the home and body to a calendar featuring pretty watercolor drawings by Arounna. Nature influences and connects every product, though, and I love the calming, natural look that results. If you’re in Toronto, be sure to check out their shop on Dundas Street. You can also find the entire collection in their online shop. I hope you’ll enjoy my chat with Arounna! — Stacy

How did the name Bookhou come about?

My last name is Khounnoraj and my husband’s [last name] is Booth.

Of all the different patterns you work with, what’s your favorite?

I really like the rain pattern because it’s based on my embroidery work, but a growing favorite would be the stones pattern inspired by my friend Margie’s crocheted covered stones.

The full interview continues after the jump . . .

Where are you from?

I was born in Vientiane, Laos, but I’ve spent most of my life in Toronto, Canada.

What Toronto destinations would you recommend to someone who has never been?

I would have to say Kensington Market, which is adjacent to Chinatown, and great shopping along Queen Street West, which is not far from our shop.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been?

The Amalfi Coast in Italy.

Do you collect anything?

I love to collect ceramics (both vintage and handmade). I have a real weakness for pottery.

If you could speak any language, what would it be?

My mom is fluent in French, and I’ve always been envious, so I would have to say French.

What long-term goal do you daydream about?

To spend a greater percentage of my time designing and making artwork, rather than the production process itself.

What’s your favorite book?

Louise Bourgeois’ The Fabric Works. I’ve been a longtime fan, and the book is a constant reminder to me that I should always nurture the creative fire inside.

What recipe/dish do you find yourself making again and again?

I don’t cook, but when my mom is around, I always like her to cook lap gai, a Laos dish made of minced chicken infused with lots of intense aromas and eaten with sticky rice. To me, it’s comfort food.

What would you do if you weren’t doing this?

I think I would be a botanist; I’ve always been interested in plant imagery and plant processes, and it has always been a part of my work. When I travel, I love to visit local botanical gardens . . . they are full of inspiration.

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24 Comments

Sarah Croft

Oh, yay! I have their Small Day bag and am HOPING I can get the larger version for Christmas.

These have the greatest craftmanship, quality materials and tend to go with everything I wear.

Great stuff, I’d recommend them to everyone!!

KD

Thank you for introducing me to their work! I’m in love with that waxed cotton tote for my daily walks up here in Portland!

Katherine

… Yeah, I just pinned the crap out of almost everything on their site onto my “Gift Ideas” pinboard! Hopefully they’ll get some business from my S.O. this christmas, if not i’ll be ordering in January! SO gorgeous, thanks for introducing them, D*S – this column is always great!

Bérangère Bouffard

Big fan! I noticed their work on Etsy a few years back (my first crush was that little bag printed with triangles) and took inspiration from their work. I was excited to see them featured on the Etsy blog later and then in a more personal light through the online magazine Covet Garden. I’m also a Canadian and working with husband (we both are illustrators) so I say Cheers! It can be done! Keep up the good work!

marcie

Any time you feature talented custom makers I feel compelled to leave a comment. A blog like this has a huge impact on the ‘little man’ and I just want to say thank you for paying attention. At CustomMade, providing a platform for small makers like this is what we do everyday and getting support from a blog like this is amazing! Keep it going because it really does matter.

sam kramer

So happy to see bookhou featured here! Their shop is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve been gradually growing a bag collection with a lot of help from Arounna & John. I get so many compliments every time I leave the house carrying one of their bags. They’re incredibly well made. Keep an eye out for their online flash sample sales – though be warned, things sell out FAST!

jesse.anne.o

I love this shop – I had a bag done with a custom vegan (waxed canvas) handle (rain tote) and I used it daily – and still love it.

I’ve actually had someone on the NYC subway recognize it as a Bookhau, which was pretty surprising!

Sonia

I’m so glad you’re featuring Arouna & John here ! I’ve been lucky enough to have met them, to have been to their B&M shop (I live in France), and I can attest that they are both not only extremely talented, but they’re SUPER sweet, generous & amazing in many ways ! Long life to Bookhou !

Adam

What a great interview always impressed by all the work Arounna and John produce at bookhou. I see my terrarium in the back of one of the photos. Great job!

Nomadic D

I love this! Their pieces are so gorgeous, simple yet so thoughtfully designed, and I just love hearing the stories of the people behind the labels. Wonderful article!

Trix

It’s always nice to find out the history and thought process behind handmade goods & about their makers. Love the earthy, organic patterns!

Rachel MacHenry

How lovely to see Bookhou featured on Design Sponge! Their beautiful work and strong support to the Toronto creative community both deserve acknowledgement.

Miriam

Love Bookhou. Saw them at pop-up at West Elm in Toronto a while ago. So nice to see Canadians profiled.

Rebecca

My husband and I are big fans of Bookhou. I love that they were featured!

margarita

I have enjoyed the interview and their work very much. I myself and partner are setting up a bigger studio back in Gran Canaria to be able to work together. I am very happy to be bale to work with him on new products and see the business growing. My dream would be to have a shop too, maybe in Spain…

Devon Specht

I’m BEYOND thrilled to have read this post. Bookhou is literally steps from my house, but I haven’t been in yet. Putting jacket on and leaving house now.

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