Anti-Brand Bless on the Art of the Human Hairbrush
Bless is not like any other design brand in the fashion world. It was created in Germany by Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag but has, since a long time ago, been a bi-city endeavor, with one designer living and working in Berlin and the other in Paris. But more than their dualistic design life, Bless is innovative for its creation of art objects, which tend to blend the surreal, the futuristic, and the fashionable all in one. They not only take care of their fashion line but also collaborate on endless projects, creating pieces like car covers, hammocks, and their infamous hair brush (literally). Milk Made’s Ana Velasco talked to the designers about long distance, the inception of titles, and the super power Bless should give you.
How was Bless born?
It was originally initiated as a temporary project between the end of the studies and finding a job. We were young, inexperienced and wanted to find and define our own way of working, which is still our theme and motivation: to create our own profession, that is linked with our personal needs in a very honest way.
You are a long-distance design duo. What are the perks about this kind of relationship and what are the hardships of it?
We would rather see the advantages, such as both of us being able to have a private life. We started in each city and were able to hold on to it without the need of one of us to compromise. Since BLESS is as natural as it is intense in terms of being a "life project," it is sometimes good to have a geographic split at least, so that we can celebrate our dialogues when we meet in the middle, or somewhere else with great pleasure and excitement. Negative side effects are of course a financial inefficiency and a lot of additional administrative work to keep both offices closely linked and updated.
Your work is very avant-garde, almost like it’s ahead of its time by 10 years. Is this futuristic intention deliberate?
Thank you for the flowers, but for us it´s always just a direct reaction of our actual lives, some sort of a constant troubleshooting process where we try to modify what could be better. We rarely think about changing the future, we are happy if we feel that what we do can influence our daily life in a positive way, and it is in generally more about the "here and there," than the tomorrow or yesterday.
Bless is well known not just for its clothes but for its artistic ventures like the Chairwear seat, hammocks, and literal hair brushes. What inspires these?
Almost all products, no matter what kind, are either triggered by our personal needs or the ones of friends, family and clients, such as N°46 Contemporary Remediation where we
didn’t propose our prefabricated design choice in form of a collection, as you would usually do in fashion, but we let the client tell us their wishes and needs. In that sense BLESS shifted in general more from being a design label to, rather, a service.
To come back to your example of the 3 mentioned products: The chairwear was triggered by a temporary disinterest in fashion we had back then, the hammock got inspired through the need that we did not like couches for our homes, but wanted to sit or lay down at home after work, so that we translated this South American lifestyle for the use at European homes with more urban and northern aspects. Finally the hairbrushes did develop from a request from a toasting agency, who invented an art-program for a hairdresser in Paris, where 12 artists had to propose "the haircut of the month." We had a hard time proposing a hairstyle but came to the conclusion that a brush would be the perfect storage place for the hair that does get cut off when you are changing your style. To demonstrate this possibility to the clients, we produced different brushes, so that people would feel encouraged to cut and deliver their hair.
How is the creative process for these things different than the creation of your clothes?
It really does not make any difference, if we are working on clothes or on objects or if we are thinking about presentations or installations. Our motivation is always to make people happy, which means in terms of making clothes, that we see our work as a service, so that if people dress up in Bless and feel comfortable because of the quality, socially compatible and good looking, we feel that our work is relevant for other people, even though we always think about our personal needs first and we find like-minded people through our work, that do also appreciate other products, like furniture pieces, or even products like the BLESS N°41 Workout Computer that combines mental with physical workout.
If you could dress any three people, dead or alive, who would you chose and why?
We would be happy to dress in general rather people we admire for their thirst of curiosity, excitement, energy, engagement and passion in life. People that share the idea of finding the brain the sexiest part of the body.
We would also like to dress Angela Merkel, and ideally in the same for some other important politicians next to her. It seems that the Germans specifically need assistance more urgently than other nationalities.
If you could borrow somebody’s brain for a week whose would it be?
Actually it would be nice to swap for a week both of our brains. Even tough we know each other quite well now after 20 years it would still be very exciting.
‘Soundperfume’ is particularly interesting because of the social facilitation that’s behind the product. Do you think that fashion tends to forget about the impaired? Are facilitating products something you’re interesting in creating?
This is a very interesting question. We are not necessarily interested in social facilitation, but, especially because we are kind of strong perfume haters, we like the idea to surround yourself with some sort of a specific acoustic cloud that could also have a personality defining character, similar to the way one chooses her/his wardrobe.
If you define with impaired, hearing disabled community our general viewpoint is that there is no disabled people, but only different abled ones. we believe that for any discrepancy from the norm that is defined by society the individual develops naturally and automatically in parallel other abilities that are more sensitive, further developed and higher skilled as the one of a person that presents an average functioning of all senses. It´s like with trees: you cut a branch and it will grow another one at exactly the point where it needs it in order not to lose balance.
How do you come up with the names of your pieces/collections?
We have to say that one of our hobbies is called "title designing", and this activity we sometimes even offer as a workshop at the university where we teach product design. We like it a lot to first open a dialogue about what should get determined in the title, and in what direction should it go that it would describe what we are working on and thinking about. Very often the title sounds probably just like translations of weird German expressions, since German language is probably the only one where you can attach different words, that would become one word, that is a mix of 2 things, and can therefore evoke an impression more that it would just document something. Often the title grows in a very spontaneous instant that generates the name, kind of "en passant," often also a bit self-ironic.
The next title we just fixed last week is BLESS N°53 Contenttenders for a series of cushions that are made to present and frame art editions for a gallery that is specialized on art multiples.
If wearing Bless was to give one super power which one would it be?
It would be this certain balance of mind/body/soul that we know from martial arts: it is the moment of maximum relaxation, that you need to be 100% prepared to react on whatsoever would happen.
Designer portraits by Phong Bui
Be sure to visit Bless’s website here