Why textiles and pillows?
My interest in textiles started when I was a child. I would hand-sewn pillows and other creations to decorate my space. I remember using an old tattered sheet to make floor pillows and feeling really proud of my creations. At about that same time, my obsession with other cultures and parts of the world took hold as well. While I did not travel much during my childhood, most of my adult life has been spent traveling every chance I got. When I first stepped foot in Asia I was drawn to the clothing and traditional dress of each culture I was exposed to. I would bring home fabric and make pillows to decorate my home. In my search for local textiles to make pillows I was never satisfied with colour choices, which led me to strike out and attempt making my own designs and colours. That is how Two Li Design began!
Where do you find your inspiration?
So many things inspire me! I see patterns and designs in natural beauty and even in simple, ordinary objects. I am awed and stimulated by human creations as well, and some of my designs are derived from fabricated elements. I am most inspired when I am able to be in the present moment, which is such a challenge these days. I love to walk and immerse myself in nature, and when I travel I spend a lot of time with feet on the ground, taking in the environment and my new surroundings. For me there is nothing more inspiring than a walk in a new place, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds. So my designs are certainly inspired by my love of travel, and so is my soul.
I truly believe we are all creative beings. The human spirit is a highly creative force. We all have this force within us, and it is about finding a way to express it. In many societies this is not valued or seen as an important part of our existence. I think I am most inspired by people who have rebelled against this thinking and dedicated their lives to creating. Any chance I can get I visit a museum, especially when traveling, and that is when I am so moved and inspired by other human beings. In textiles there are so many talented designers, but for me inspiration comes from the origins of design, tribal patterns of ceremonial dress, ancient Chinese silk designs, Persian and Ottoman textile patterns, so I suppose it is the unnamed, ancient artisans that inspire me most.
Are you a perfectionist?
Absolutely! Honestly, I think my perfectionism does more bad than good when it comes to the creative process. I am constantly working on “letting go of the perfectionist within”. By doing so it allows me to create freely, experiment, and allow for an uninterrupted process. This is easier said than done, though. I am, however, proud of my inner perfectionist when it comes to constructing and sewing my pillows. I believe each pillow should be perfect, so I am alright with being a perfectionist at the end part of production.
How do you handle your inner critic?
Oh, this is a process I am still working on overcoming. I think the inner critic is super chummy with the perfectionist and they both need to be put in their places! I go back to my belief that we are all creative beings and we are entitled to cultivate this creativity. We are each unique and our expression of this uniqueness should be revered and celebrated. I find my inner critic comes out in force if I start comparing my work to others’. And this is where I keep going back to the idea that my creations are unique and should be valued as such, and not compared.
My proudest moment is when I first launched the Two Li Design website. I thought “Wow, I really did it!” I was sort of astonished that I actually took the leap. But I think I am most content and proud when I see my creations in someone’s home and they love them as much as I do. I believe I have a lot more to do with design and look forward to more moments like that.
I feel like I am always teetering on a fine line between fear of failure and actually fear of being successful. Sometimes I question why I push myself and why I want to continue on this path. It can be stressful, demanding and life would be much simpler if I just did this as a hobby. I guess it is all about defining what failure means. To me the real failure is to not go for it. I would feel I failed if I just did not put myself out there.
Social media – yes or no?
Both. I think social media is such a tricky anomaly that we are all still trying to figure out. When I first started using Instagram I felt it helped me reaffirm that my designs were appealing to others outside my inner circle. I felt connected to some followers and loved seeing what they considered to be inspirational and the interesting things they were creating. I have actually connected and collaborated with some people through social media, but it feels like over the past couple of years there has been a general shift in users’ intentions. I think in using social media you must be clear about why you are using it before logging in. If it is for inspiration and sharing ideas then it can be beneficial.
There are a lot more areas I would like to explore with Two Li Design. I am currently in the middle of a year of travel with my family, and while it is so hard to comprehend all we have taken in and experienced throughout the year, I look forward to seeing how the process reveals itself in my design work. I feel like the best is yet to come!
My latest favourite quote has been attributed to a number of people including Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Roger Miller. It has become my daily mantra, something I am applying to my life and my work. “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” I keep reminding myself that I (all of us) can be the one to feel the rain. The more I feel, the more I will continue to be awed and inspired by this beautiful world and appreciate all it has and is, and hopefully this is reflected in my work.