Who hasn’t suffered the sting of a thousand rejection letters? Imke Klee, for one. In 2007, having just completed an integrated design program at the University of the Arts Bremen, the German-born stylist and photographer sent her diploma work off to famed trend forecaster and design guru Li Edelkoort in search of some feedback. “It was sort of a trend book about how to transform traditional values into modern, contemporary ones,” says Klee — in other words, catnip for a trend junkie like Edelkoort, who responded almost immediately with an invitation to come join the Paris-based offices of Trend Union, Edelkoort’s renowned forecasting agency, which counts companies like Philips, Virgin, Camper, and L’Oréal among its international clients.
Since that time, Klee has been employed as an iconographic researcher, charged with creating images and sourcing new materials and fashions for the firm’s legendary seasonal trend books and color forecasts. “Every day is a new challenge,” Klee says. “How to switch between styling, photography, and research, how to interpret the present, and how to work in time for my own projects as well.” It’s a good thing, then, that Klee’s professional and independent work lives often overlap; the photo shoots she frequently initiates with her husband, photographer Antonios Mitsopoulos, often end up being used as fodder for Edelkoort’s trend books. At the heart of it, Klee says, “I am a collector of beautiful things, and I use them to create my own world; my process normally begins with a feeling and ends with a concept.”
No wonder, then, that Klee is so adept at creating mood boards —a subject she even teaches a course on at her old alma mater. In fact, when the photos for this story arrived — mostly taken by Klee, her husband, or sourced from around the web, they represent eight of her greatest inspirations — they looked of a piece, a controlled mood highly indicative of Klee’s wabi-sabi aesthetic. We invite you to take a look for yourself.
Faye Toogood, the London-based interiors stylist and creative consultant, has designed exhibition stands for Tom Dixon, windows for Liberty, displays for Dover Street Market, and sets for Wallpaper. But in all of her career, she’s had only one job interview. At the tender age of 21, having just graduated from Bristol University with degrees in fine art and art history, Toogood was called for an interview with Min Hogg, legendary founding editor of the British design bible The World of Interiors. “I had found out about a stylist job and decided I would go for it, even though I didn’t even know what that meant,” says Toogood. “I went in and it was the strangest thing. She asked me, ‘Can you sew, and can you tie a bow?’ I actually couldn’t sew, so I lied and when I got the job, I had someone do it for me.”
Benjamin Graindorge really wants to design a fireplace. But here's the problem: When he tries to draw fire, it tends to end up looking like water. You can tell it's fire because it's yellow or orange, he thinks, but once he makes the flames brown or green or black, well, not so much. "When I find a way to represent it with another color, I think then I'll be able to move on to the real object," he muses. Clearly, drawing is an instrumental part of the young Parisian designer's process. In fact, most of his objects don't even start off as ideas, they start as swirls of color and form: "The first stage of my work is only a nebula, without humans or objects."
When Reineke Otten visits a new city, it feels a bit like looking at Richard Scarry’s children’s books, their pages crammed with the minutiae of daily life. As a “streetologist,” her job is to scrutinize the often mundane details of places like Paris or Dubai, photographing dozens of window shades, doorbells, and flea market stalls until she’s put together a revealing portrait of the local culture. Though most of Otten’s clients pay her for her sleuthing skills, her new website Urban Daily Life offers the rest of us a glimpse into what it's like to see the world through a magnifying glass.