With their characteristic plaid patterns, the reversible cardigans, hats, and dresses by the Zurich label Xess+Baba are proof that textile design does not have to end at the design phase, but can continue into production and opening one’s own store.
During her textile design studies at the Schule für Gestaltung Zürich, Tina Grässli (b. 1969) created fabrics for specific products. She always tested her patterns first on concrete objects—contrary to the typical professional reality of a textile designer. After earning her degree, Grässli designed plaids with optical color mixing effects and with color progressions and hierarchies, and developed a reversible knitted fabric on her own knitting machine. A first series of industrially produced apparel sold well, but she needed capital to build her own collection. In 1996, Grässli and the jewelry designer Barbara Rüegg (b. 1968) took the plunge and opened their own store. Saus & Braus was the first multi-label store for clothes and accessories produced in limited series. It thus also offered a platform for other designers, enabling them to test market their products. Under the label Xess+Baba, Grässli and Rüegg began in 1997 to produce durable knitted jackets, caps, and dresses whose design quality took its cue more from the criteria of product design than from high fashion. Their plaid in many different colorways became a signature trademark. The double-face knitwear in wool or cotton is reversible and thus offers men and women two contrasting color moods in a single garment. Especially coveted are the Xess+Baba zippered cardigans from the early days, reissued in 2012 by popular demand. (Renate Menzi)