“Very often it doesn’t work the way that you intended it to,” P-O Eklund said of the process behind his handmade antler-and-bone knives. “But, so it is.” Not that one would know by looking at the finished product. Eklund’s modest shop, where he crafts knives inspired by the native Sami people, is located in the basement of a small apartment building in the northern Swedish town of Skellefteå. There are no million-dollar machines, no production lines. Instead, there are belt sanders, engraving tools, boxes of assorted antlers and curly birch — used for making handles — and all the well-worn evidence of hours of hard, manual labor.

Each knife is made to order, and Eklund meticulously obsesses over its production. His award-winning Half Horn Knife — with a handle made of reindeer antler, a blade of Damascus steel with brass inlay crafted by master bladesmith Ivan Linderborg, and a sheath of leather and reindeer antler — is case in point. And the knife, however useful, tilts the balance of design and utility distinctly in favor of art.

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