Setsumasa Kobayashi, the head designer behind Mountain Research, absorbs and filters life like a prism. Also the owner of Cow Books, a boutique bookstore that specializes in out-of-print works from subversive authors, poets, activists, and social pioneers, Kobayashi reflects the wisdom and validation of progressive art. He creates from the intellectual lodestone at the center of the heart’s natural compass.

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Each season, his team of designers climb into the Chichibu Mountain Range and clear their minds of Tokyo’s steel and concrete at the Mountain Research retreat.

Kobayashi and architect Shin Ohori collaborated to build a campground that participates with nature. Built into the side of the mountain, levels of wooden decks act as living rooms, communing with the topography, harmonizing the comforts of modernity with the truth of the elements.

By day, the team chops wood, prunes trees, and stewards the land, testing outdoor clothing through grounding labor. By night, they sit around a campfire, listen to music, share thoughts, tell stories, and design a refined life outdoors.

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Ohori hopes that “architecture will be a place where people discover something new, make innovations in their lifestyles,” and not “guarantee safe and ordinary lives.” Mountain Research does the same for the human frame.

Dieter Rams defines this approach succinctly in his tenets of As Little Design as Possible. Using less, but only the best materials, and concentrating on the essentials results in the useful elegance of natural form. Back to purity, back to simplicity. Kobayashi lives that aesthetic.

Mountain Research translates the work in hand, progressive art, and the birds-eye wonder of a mountain vista into clothes that honor the clarity of alpine air.

To see images of the Mountain Research retreat, click here.