Piet Hein Eek: Klee is partial to the rough, textural pieces by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek, a longtime favorite of her boss and mentor, Li Edelkoort, as well. (The chair on the right was photographed in Klee’s own Paris flat.) “For me, his designs are incredibly modern interpretations of traditional values, forms, and folkloristic life,” she says — all themes that inform her own work. “I love that he can achieve such great design with such simple materials and forms.”
That authenticity is also what draws Klee to artists like Atelier NL, Hella Jongerius, and Swedish up-and-comer Jens Fager. “There’s an interplay between these enchanted, dreamy, almost surrealistic aspects and the elementariness that appeals to me.”
Fabric: Because Trend Union is so influential in the worlds of textiles and fashion, Klee finds herself constantly surrounded by fabrics, swatches of which are included the firm’s biannual color forecasts. Klee is obsessed with the book on the left by famed Japanese costume designer Emi Wada, which comes packaged in a frayed cloth binding. “Her book is about the making of fashion and fabrics. I am totally inspired by the layering of raw materials and things that are slightly unfinished,” she says.
Though Klee has aspirations of one day designing her own fashion collection, she’ll often for photo shoots buy pieces of natural fabric or muslin and simply drape them to resemble a garment, as in the white skirt in the photo above, which was used to represent a return to rural values and aesthetics in one of Trend Union’s reports.
Fashion photography: As a researcher, Klee spends much of her time flipping through magazines, and she’s become addicted to the ethereal imagery and illustrations by London-based photographer Tim Walker and frequent Vogue UK contributor Paolo Roversi. “Walker has this sense of epic drama in his pictures that somehow shows the everyday and the absurd and the fabulous all at the same time. Roversi’s pictures are just filled with poetry. I always try to capture that sort of dignified aura in my pictures as well.”
Sketchbooks: Klee’s affinity for sketchbooks, calendars, and diaries — “I have tons of them, full and empty!” she says — is both emotional and physical: “I need them to empty my brain. I write down my own ideas — things/words/sentences I hear/like/see — around me. I write down ideas I’d like to realize somewhere. But I also just love handwritten books. I love to touch them, I love the odor of them, I love when they are worn out, and I like the idea of reopening them when I am old.”
Mood boards: “I love to arrange and photograph things, to create color cards and inspiration boards as well as simple still lifes,” Klee says. “I’m addicted to telling visual stories, to teasing out the loveliness of simple things. Ever since my childhood, I’ve always been drawing, collecting, painting, designing my room — and it is still my main ‘occupation.’ There was never a real significant change.”
In her submission of work to Sight Unseen, for example, Klee paired this image of a girl with a flower fabric necklace — made especially for one of Edelkoort's trend books — with a spontaneously taken photo of dried petals she had at home on the table.
Paris: In her adopted city, Klee says, inspiration is everywhere, especially in the haute bohemian area Montmartre and the flea markets that stud the perimeter of the city. “I also love the Merci store on the Boulevard Beaumarchais, the Marché Saint Pierre for fabrics, and all the little streets with beautiful boutiques.”
Nature imagery: Even though Klee often works with artificial constructs, she mostly uses props and materials that can be found in nature. “As much as I love living in Paris, I could never make a final decision which is better: exciting city life or life on the countryside where I grew up. There you have the most beautiful forms and colors, organic food, and the ability to live an authentic and conscious life.”
A typical self-initiated project. “I did the pigeons shoot with my husband. A pigeon fancier lives in the same neighborhood as my parents and I had the idea to ask him if we could photograph his birds. I loved the beauty of the plumage and it was a great challenge for us to photograph these animals. Some of the images were used for one of the trend books, but in general it is possible to buy pro-rata picture rights of my images. I would love to make a photo book out of them but until now, I have not had the time.”
Prints of Klee’s food still-lifes, photographed in collaboration with her husband, Antonios Mitsopoulos, are for sale in Klee’s Etsy shop A View To, along with her fabric brooches and keyrings.