Knock on Wood

Straight from Istanbul: Embroidered wooden clutches we want to own immediately.

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Things we love from Istanbul: Pistachio-flavored Turkish delights, handwoven wool kilims, and embroidered wooden clutches.

Grav Grav, short for the phrase "gravity is gravity," is a label started by Merve Burma, a young designer born and raised in Istanbul. Working out of a studio in her hometown, Burma creates unique wooden satchels, backpacks, clutches, and purses—but it was the wooden bags with intricate embroidered detailing that first caught our eye. 

Rose Stitched Oak Wood Clutch, $199. Photograph courtesy of Grav Grav
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"Grav Grav's starting point is connected with my childhood," Burma says. "As a child, I loved playing with wooden toys and would often make them myself." Burma studied theater at Kocaeli Fine Arts University of Performing Arts, but crafting things with her hands was always her first passion. One day in 2011, she thought to herself, How can I take inspiration from 1970s wooden suitcases and adapt them to today's world? And thus, the collection of wooden backpacks, clutches, and purses was born.

"I think every tree's texture adds its own unique story to the bag, and embodies the soul of nature."

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The wooden backpacks, which are made with beech wood and hand-sewn leather, are uncomplicated, protective, and unique. Grav Grav's color-blocked collection includes a hue for every outfit (including gold and silver!), so no matter the occasion—you'll be covered.  

Dark Mint Wood Backpack, $170, and Yellow Small Wood Bag, $70. Photograph courtesy of Grav Grav

But why stop there? Burma expanded on the designs by experimenting with embroidery—first with fabric appliqués, which she found unsatisfactory, and then onto the wood itself. "In my designs I try to connect traditional, nostalgic aesthetics with modern, upgraded designs without straying too far from current fashion trends." But while cross-stitching wood may seem like an odd combination to us, Burma insists that the hard surface and brightly colored threads are meant to be: "Wood and embroidery are a perfect match, they have a great harmony!"

Burma working in her studio in Istanbul, Turkey. Photograph courtesy of Cihan Demiral/Grav Grav

If you're overwhelmed by all the bags Grav Grav has to offer, Burma recommends starting with her favorite: the Rose Stitched Oak Wood Purse. "I spend a lot of time with the materials, and I love oak," she says. "I think every tree's texture adds its unique story to the bag, and embodies the soul of nature."

See more of Burma's wooden bags at

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