It is always a source of great joy to find new brands that brings something new, different and clever to the market. The coup- de-coeur of this back to school 2014 is Play is Work, a capsule collection of ethically sourced and beautifully designed leather overalls, trousers, vests, created by Kaija Vogel, a truly inspiring artist.

“Our inspiration comes from many places. From tradesman‘s work wear to folk clothing – all functional, simple and robust. From Bauhaus philosophy and design to the Scandinavian aesthetic, Waldorf and Montessori beliefs to the ideas of modernist pioneers” explains Kaija, an artist and designer with a career spanning fine art, film, experience design and fashion.

Born in 1970’s Finland to an established family of architects, Kaija grew up in Canada before moving to London to work as a creative director and production designer. Her work crosses the landscape of feature films to interior design; from narrative installations for the V&A and the Imperial War Museum, to scenography as well as sculptural works and costume design.

A mother of two young children, Kaija took a long time to reflect before launching her children’s clothing line. Almost two years of thinking, researching the appropriate modus operandi, the best ingredients. Taking time allowed Kaija to surround herself with the right people, and to work with great Italian and London based artisans.

Kaija is clearly passionate about what she does, about concepts, materials, workmanship. “Leather has memory; leather tells stories. And the more you use it, the better it looks. Each piece is designed to grow and evolve with the child that wears it”. She also appreciates quality so her pieces are made out of the finest leather, treated naturally using traditional techniques.

The collection comes in tones of earthy browns, greys and blacks, derived from the purest plant based pigments, making each garment unique. Each piece allows a child the freedom to explore, create and set about their own adventures, a key concept in the design process for ‘Play is Work’. Red is used for zip and embellishment details for an interesting juxtaposition of raw and earthy with primary and graphic.

With the arrival of her two children, Kaija was keen to develop a scenography for their everyday life. ‘Yellow is the first colour that children see so when my children were born, the first toy I made for them was yellow. I wanted their first toy to be totally unique and un branded, hand made by me. Objects carry significant energy and have a sort of potentiality which gives them life and narrative – this is what I like exploring with each piece I design’.

We wish Kaija and Play is Work a well deserved recognition and success.


Photos Heiko Prigge.