Design & Sustainability on

Design Eye: Getting Down

— By: The Team at Nau


Today in The Thought Kitchen, we sit down with our Director of Design Peter Kallen to talk about the new down jackets in the Fall ’11 line.

The Thought Kitchen: How do you approach designing with down?

Peter Kallen: The main inspiration for working with down has always been that it’s this airy, cloud-like material. When designing around down, you just have to allow for that kind of soft volume, which is a great attribute to have since it makes things have a bit more presence to them. That can also be a negative a times if it can make you look like a Michelin man, but we’ve always prided ourselves in sculpting and tailoring the down so you get the benefit of the insulation, you get the sensation of the cloud-like experience where it surrounds you, but you don’t get this visual cue that you look like a stay-puff marshmallow.

The Men’s Rheostat Down Jacket


TTK: What do you get about down that other designers miss?

PK: Most people think that if a little down is good, then more is better. For us, it’s about the quality of down that we use, and then using only as much as a silhouette needs. Finding that fine balance is what makes a down piece not overbearing or overwhelming visually. It goes back to how we tailor things and the quality of down that we use: we can use a smaller amount because the quality of the down we use is so high.



TTK: What’s unique about Nau’s new down jackets, the Rheostat and the Fathom?

PK: In the case of the Rheostat we baffled the inside of it and left the outside completely unstitched so that it could be completely waterproof, and it didn’t make you feel like you were in a traditional down jacket. It’s like putting a three layer waterproof jacket on top of a down jacket, but in one silhouette. For women, the Fathom has this stylish, sexy silhouette, but designed so that it doesn’t take away from providing the insulation that women—who are just so much more susceptible to the cold—really need. So the Fathom represents the best of the down world, combined with this very sleek and sculpted vibe that doesn’t look like a down piece, but warms like one.

The Women’s Fathom Down Jacket


TTK: What have you learned about down through designing at Nau?

PK: At Nau, we work with the highest quality down, which has this somewhat unpredictable quality: you can squish it down flat as a pancake, and it will just loft itself back into this airy volume. So the key has been to understand how that volume translates onto the human body. But once you understand that, you see that the quality of down that is used in a jacket is the key to a great silhouette. That’s what we aim for.

Words by Alex Hamlin.