Droog presents the face mask as a flirtatious fashion statement
Dutch design platform Droog has launched Le Freak, a mask that uses colourful tassels to express personality.
Droog collaborator Yev Kravt designed the mask – which she is selling though Droog's online shop – after being uninspired by other face coverings on the market.
At a time when it is often mandatory to wear a mask, to slow the spread of Covid-19, Kravt wanted to create a design that would bring cheer to both herself and those around her.
"I found the commonly used designs for regular face masks a bit dull," she told Dezeen. "I feared the lack of expression, the lack of style."
By adding a fringe of fabric tassels, the designer was able to create a mask with its own unique style. It is intended to bring a variety of references to mind, from Arabian Nights to the Addams Family.
While masks typically have a static appearance, this one brings a new form of animation to the face.
"Our facial expression is hard to recognise when all we have to go on is our eyes," Kravt said.
"A Le Freak mask has a flirtatious aspect. The colour and movement back and forth create a very playful appearance."
Kravt came up with the idea while collaborating with Droog founder Renny Ramaker on the exhibition Onward & Upward: Art in the Garden of Life, which is currently on show at Droog's gallery in Amsterdam.
"[The exhibition] is themed around finding solace in art in times of uncertainty. In this gloomy time, I realised then I was in need of solace myself," she explained.
Kravt was particularly inspired by the work of one exhibitor, Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Yi-Fei Chen, whose latest work explores the idea that masks are seen in western cultures as a loss of individuality, while in eastern countries they are a symbol of safety.
Chen has created a face shield that is both a safety measure and a fashion statement. Kravt's project aims to do the same thing.
"When something is considered safe, it is not allowed to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Especially when it comes to masks," Kravt said.
"But you can change your mood and those around you with a mask, by connecting with your emotions," she added. "Even though our lockdown style is bound to sweatpants and sweaters, the moment we go out we should not forget to feel elegant, we should not forget to dress up, because that does make you feel better from time to time."
"Hopefully, Le Freak will inspire us to move on, cheer us up and give us a good belly laugh – something we dearly need at the moment."
Made from a mix of cotton and canvas, Le Freak is available in 10 different colours, including shades of pink, purple, green, red and blue. Each one also has a label showing the logo created by graphic designer Joan Doyer, who created Le Freak's visual identity.
The design is available to buy from Droog's online shop. This shop is one of several arms of the Droog platform, which grew out of an exhibition back in 1993 and launched the careers of designers including Marcel Wanders, Hella Jongerius and Piet Hein Eek.
Droog co-founder Renny Ramakers tells the story of the brand in a talk broadcast as part of Dezeen's Virtual Design Festival earlier this year.