Surplus fashion fabric finds new life in playful seating
Muller Van Severen and Kassl Editions team up on this Re-Use initiative for Wallpaper* Re-Made
For a small fashion brand, Kassl Editions has big ideas. Launched in 2017 – by fashion agent Bart Ramakers and colleague Charlotte Schreuder, Antwerp concept store Graanmarkt 13 founders Tim Van Geloven and Ilse Cornelissens, and former Delvaux CEO Christian Salez – the label embraces the ethos of ‘doing one thing and doing it well’. Since their first piece, minimalist outerwear inspired by an old fisherman’s coat, the founders have been experimenting with oiled cotton canvas, each season creating variations on a theme. Then they introduced padded bags made in an oil-coated cotton from Italian textile weaver Limonta, left over from the production of coats (the bags are now so successful, some fabric also has to be ordered in to supplement the supply).
The bags became the starting point for Kassl Editions’ next idea: a multipurpose piece of furniture with a modular design made from durable materials. To develop the concept, Cornelissens and her team enlisted Belgian design duo Muller Van Severen. ‘Fien Muller and I had been discussing a collaboration for some time,’ Cornelissens says. She and Van Geloven had bought the ‘Crossed Double Seat’, from one of the designers’ early collections, for their home. The two couples had since become friends, and Muller Van Severen’s work for Valerie Objects is available through Graanmarkt 13.
‘After the launch of our bags, we felt it was time to start thinking about something in between fashion and interiors,’ continues Cornelissens. ‘We had a meeting with Fien and Hannes [Van Severen], and I brought three bags with me. We were discussing something modular, something movable, something easy. The bags were piled in the corner of the room and all of a sudden Hannes started drawing. Like always, the first idea is the best!’
Based on Van Severen’s sketch, the sofa (the first by the Belgian studio) is simple in its execution: it is essentially made of three bags that attach to each other, forming an archetypal seat and back structure. The single module works as a solo seat, or as the starting point for a composition of multiples. The leftover Limonta fabric was the start of the design process. ‘The way the fabric falls brought us to the idea of this type of sofa,’ says Muller. It’s the flow of the textile, she adds, that brings together the worlds of fashion and design. ‘You want to feel the fabric, lie in it or even hide in it.’
The modular structure allowed the designers to play with colour, creating chromatic compositions in a palette of black, white and camel, accented with sky blue, navy, green and bordeaux.
For Cornelissens, the design and concept embody her idea of a contemporary lifestyle. ‘It feels like something really new,’ she says. ‘You can use this sofa in your home, but also take it outside and read a book on it. Functional, comfortable, sustainable and multi-usable design is future living for me.’
Cornelissens applies the same approach to Kassl Editions’ fashion line, and believes it will find resonance in a post-pandemic world. ‘People have everything and nobody needs anything, so to evoke desire, you need radical quality: one item that lasts for a lifetime,’ she says. ‘This is our opportunity to make a positive change in fashion. We are joining forces with many others in the industry right now to set aside previous rules and align our decisions with our values.’
From a design perspective, Muller shares this sentiment: ‘We don’t want to make objects that are being replaced after a few years. We want to create things that you buy to keep and pass on to your children.’
The collaboration is now continuing with a new, even more portable design on the cards in time for Wallpaper’s Re-Made exhibition in Milan next April. ‘We would like to develop something that is light, easy and usable both indoors and out,’ says Cornelissens, adding that the team is experimenting with hammocks and mats.
Meanwhile, the sofa is set to become an integral part of the Kassl Editions offering. When asked about a favourite moment in the project so far, the collaborators mention their children enjoying the piece, whether they played with it during development, or tried it at home. ‘I already miss it, the kids loved it. That says something to me,’ says Muller. §