With inspirations from Zen Buddhism and traditional ways of living, Atelier Kesa handcrafts solemn garments infused with stillness. Join our conversation with Nina from Atelier Kesa, and her world of poetry.
How would you describe Atelier Kesa, and who is it for?
The name Kesa comes from the Japanese Zen ceremonial vestment. It is worn draped over the left shoulder and under the right arm by Buddhist monks.
The Kesa is a seemingly simple, yet very complex spiritual garment, with strict codes of fabrication and wearability. Every piece of fabric, every stitch, measurement and movement necessary to its fabrication are done in profound concentration. A deep mediative state. On the other hand, the Kesa incarnates the very essence / the way of those who have realized enlightenment, and is considered as “the vestment of liberation”.
Working silently to imbue in my work and garments this transmission of stillness, to offer something beyond form. This is what I do… for everyone who want some softness in their life. Poetry.
Who are the people behind Atelier Kesa and how did Atelier Kesa come to be?
Kesa is my own project but I work very closely with the man I live with and love since we share the same ideas and philosophy. We have our live-in studio in a quiet town by a lake surrounded by forest, about 20 km away from Berlin.
I grew up in France, working with textiles, sewing everything and nothing. At the age of 18 I sold all I could and bought myself a flight ticket to Canada, pursued studies in graphic design, and later visual arts. I was the founding editor of an online magazine about electronic music, organizing shows, working for a concert venue, going out a lot. But at some point, I needed to do something with my hands.
From Montreal I moved to Berlin and reverted back to my first passion.
How do you select the fabrics used? Do you have any particular fabric you prefer working with? Why?
I find in linen a philosophy, an ethic.
Linen is one of the oldest fabrics known. Some of its earliest traces go back nearly 36,000 years to a cave in Georgia, in today’s world its small ecological footprint gives it inestimable value to our threatened planet. Many generations have cultivated, woven, developed, manufactured and explored this unique fabric, reinventing it so that it remains both timeless and contemporary. Linen is much more than a fashion accessory, it truly is an art-de-vivre. A world on its own.
What does the process of designing and producing a collection look like for you?
I first choose linen from manufacturers certified “Masters Of Linen”, a seal and sign of excellence for linen 100% made in Europe following specific agricultural, environmental and social conditions. The people I source from are passionate about what they do and concerned about the quality they offer — I believe their passion also has an impact on the final garments.
For the actual collections, each piece is sketched in advance and the fabric and colour scheme is chosen accordingly. All garments are cut and sewed in house in our atelier.
What are your main influences for your designs?
I believe everything is an influence on what we do.
Practicing stillness to replenish. Perceiving the subtle whispering of the wind, the smell of pine forests, the oscillations on the lake or the flight of a bird. Simply life’s metamorphoses. It’s this beauty that inspires me. It’s a conscious effort to not let bad things get you, this is also why I choose carefully my surroundings, from the books I read to the movies I watch. Building a world of poetry.
What feelings do you want to convey through your clothing?
Simplicity. Mystery. Elegance.
What is your favourite part of your work with Atelier Kesa?
Having that feeling that there’s no end, to be on the path that ceaselessly unfolds. To offer some form of truth, in all simplicity.
Atelier Kesa’s pieces are available for purchase below.
Handcrafted clothing inspired by traditional ways of living through simplicity, mystery and elegance. Using only ecologically treated fibers and natural dyes, all pieces are rigorously sewed and assembled in meditative silence. Stillness infused in fabric to create solemn garments.