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A Closer Look at Fendi’s Collaboration With Bless for Design Miami

Bless design studio founders Ines Kaag and Desiree Heis brought their vision to Fendi's Design Miami booth and Peekaboo bag.

Fendi’s 2023 Design Miami booth isn’t primed for a brief walk-by viewing.

“You have to be curious to do the backside. Not everyone will see it,” says the design duo Bless, who were tapped by Fendi for a full booth takeover for the fair. They designed the booth so that there would be a behind-the-scenes corridor to discover, with functional design components. “Those who go just for a quick look will never see the backside.”

Bless, founded by Ines Kaag and Desiree Heis, looked to highlight the unseen aspects of Fendi when approaching their collaboration with the fashion house. Titled “Fendibackfrontals,” the booth is composed of several double-sided paravents, created in partnership with Fendi Casa. The aisle-facing sides feature full-scale photos of private scenes that Bless encountered during a visit to Fendi Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana headquarters in Rome, including the entrance, the kitchen of a Fendi family member, and an area at the Rome boutique for VIP customers. The back of the panels features a wooden wall print, creating a separate environment.

“The intuitive reaction would be to say no, why would we — after working 25 years as a very niche brand, why should we suddenly do something like this? But it’s this feeling that we had,” they said of their reaction to Fendi’s invitation to collaborate. “We started our research and we also found a little bit of common interest,” they added, noting that Fendi gave them carte blanche. “So there are parallels that we appreciated, and it felt just right.”

Bless x Fendi for Design Miami. DANIELE LA MALFA

One of those parallels was working with fur, and Bless nodded to the high level of Fendi craftsmanship and quality of production that they accessed through working with the fashion house. For “Fendibackfrontals,” Bless created an intarsia blanket using shearling, leather and merino wool that depicts a Fendi office space — elevating the viewer’s relation to the scene through material — and also wrapped quotidian cleaning supplies in recycled Fendi fur and leather. “You [normally] only see what you see in the advertising, what the company decides to expose,” said Bless. “The whole idea is to take a look at the things you normally would hide or don’t see.”

Bless approached their one-off Peekaboo bag designs with the same spirit. They focused on the extra accessories that accompany a bag purchase — the dustbag and box, and shipping labels that envelope a bag in transit — and transformed each object into a design piece that transcends its original function.

“It looks like a cardboard box, but it’s a bag too. You can even zip it. It’s separate, but you can use it at the same time — so it just gives you an extra component,” said Bless, demoing one of the bag designs. “We took care of the things that you normally don’t see.”

Bless x Fendi for Design Miami. DANIELE LA MALFA


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