Top3Tuesday: Inés Cuatrecasas

Inés Cuatrecasas

Inés is the co-founder and director of mille collinesthe design duo that creates inspiring collections that celebrate the African woman. Hailing from Barcelona, a young Inés travelled extensively through Africa. She and her family shared a deep love for the African context and various rich cultures. In 2008, she and her business partner Marc Oliver took a trip to Rwanda where they were introduced to Antoinette; a local dressmaker. This connection ultimately led to Marc and Inés’ moving to Kigali where they developed their first collection in partnership with Antoinette. A year later, mille collines was born and soon grew into full-fledged fashion Atelier. Today, it is fully owned and operated by the Kigali team that helped build it.

Inés found time between her frequent flights to give us a bit of insight into a few things that keep her creative juices flowing; this month’s edition of Top3Tuesday.

3. Library of Muyinga | BC Architects (Burundi)

Muyinga Library
Muyinga Library

Having lived 5 years in Rwanda where our brand mille collines was founded, this building represented for me the perfect balance in the use of local materials ,while taking into account the heritage of a culture. The result is a unique, graceful and functional space.  The structure is the first installment of a school for deaf children, built with help from the community and local materials. The design itself is heavily derived from a participatory approach that interprets history and vernacular with the contemporary – a longitudinal hallway like a portico is heavily used in regional houses. This is a space not only used to move from one room to another but is a buffer protected from heavy rains and pounding sun where the majority of social interactions occur. Compressed earth blocks were made on site and constitute the primary structure that consists of a series of columns and infilled walls. Wooden members make up the rafters with sun-baked clay tiles on the roof while the interior features timber floors and bookshelf steps, a handmade net hammock for reading, ventilation through the offset bricks along the top of the space and natural light through the tall street-side openings with maneuverable wooden screens. The volume and nature of the peripheral walls help maintain a steady and comfortable interior environment.

2. The Pattern Magic Books by Tomoko Nakamichi

Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi
Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi

Throughout my studies I quickly perceived that pattern making was the “ugly duck” of the fashion industry. As my career kicked off I soon realised that it was one of the most important processes in the creation of garments and it would become our obsession to dig deeper and partner with very talented people to make sure this fundamental stage of the process could meet the quality standards. That is how we met Spanish pattern design master Ines Monge who introduced us to this collection of books back in 2010. Pattern Magic became a bible for us and a new way of understanding clothing design. This book is the cult pattern-making book from Japan. Taking inspiration from nature, from geometric shapes, and from the street; this book harnesses the sheer joy of making and sculpting clothes.

1. Spanish Flamenco Dancer, Sara Baras

Sara Baras. © Peter Muller
Sara Baras. © Peter Muller

Cádiz-born Baras, now 45, was known for pouring her soul into her performances, which numbered about 200 a year, and for involving herself with everything from the choreography to the lighting and costumes. Baras presents flamenco with a polished sophistication, mixing iron control with deep feeling and taking on forms traditionally danced by men; with an emphasis on footwork. Her most famous move is to propel herself across the stage with a hammering deluge of stamps, her upper body so still she appears almost to glide. I will always remember her quote:
“The concentration you need is murderous but we come here for that, no? To leave our soul on the stage.”