To try to categorize Bless is to misunderstand its innovation and the beauty in its balance of complexity and simplicity. It is driven by need, created through genius concepts and engineered by its two designers through interactions with friends and contributors. It is fashion yet more than fashion, art yet more than art, design yet more than design. Bless was developed in 1997 by Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag, who met at a Paris design competition in 1993, each now continuing to work from Paris and Berlin, respectively. They create what they want and cannot find anywhere else – whether it’s clothing, furniture or a thoughtful objet. Collaborations with the likes of Weekday, Longchamp and Wrangler (to name just a few) have also helped to bring their forward thinking to a greater public domain, and there’s no doubt they will continue on their rise.
What does the idea that Bless is neither fashion nor anti-fashion mean to you?
Bless is selling personal values in the form of products to the public. It is kind of obsolete how you want to categorize these products, but people, of course, tend to say that the clothes are 'fashion', the furniture pieces represent the 'design' part, while bigger and more conceptual pieces, for example the Bless N°41workoutcomuter, might even be classified as “art”.
For us, they have all the same value level and we name them “products”. Their main purpose is to surprise and take care of us, as well as cheering us up in everyday life.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs – where do the ideas come from for what you create?
Mainly personal desire and problem-solving: we need something we can't buy elsewhere, so we have to make it.
What do you hope your designs do for the wearer or user?
Ideally, they become all-time-favorites. For the clothes, this means that they become those pieces that you want to wear all the time because they are so comfortable, they slightly define your values, but they don't take all the attention away from yourself. For the furniture pieces, it means that they support, but also challenge your daily life.
You’ve collaborated with an exciting variety of iconic brands, from Longchamp and Weekday to Wrangler Jeans. How do some of these partnerships come about?
Ideally, the collaborators find us, but sometimes we also contact them, if we have a specific project in mind.
Are there any collaborations or special projects you hope to work on in the future?
Our dream is still to get more involved in architecture, and to collaborate eventually with a friend and long-term Bless client and fan who is an amazing architect in LA. Also, designing a car would be a nice challenge. We are currently working on a series of elevated furniture pieces that cross the border between furniture and architecture, and that allow a different perspective of your previously well known environment being able to use it differently now.
Can you talk about your system of numbering each product and campaign and why this is significant to you?
We started with the numeration right in the beginning, after we made the decision to not produce purely clothing-based collections.Back then we decided that every three months, we’d propose all ideas for a whole collection condensed in one single product that is produced in a limited edition. However, economically, this was not workable in the long run. So, our product scale became much broader, but we kept all the same the numeration. It proved to be quite efficient and practical in combination with the product’s title. It’s very easy to situate in our life context the time of the product’s creation.Besides, it functions as our pacemaker and has become our own system of measuring time and activity.
Between Berlin and Paris, do you find one city to be more inspiring or one to be easier to work in?
Both cities have their advantages and disadvantages, but in general, we could most likely live and work elsewhere. We simply enjoy having the opportunity of benefiting from the peculiarity of these two very different cities that give us all we need: space for our personal lives in each city and a broad variety of very different contexts to apply our products.
What excites you when you see a piece of clothing or an objet for the first time?
Ideally, it has the capacity to bring us back to a child’s point of view, where you can't relate to any previous experience with that very same object, having to figure out again and again how to apply it and live with it. In the best of cases it has the ability to help you modify those gridlocked viewpoints of life in general.