KOEL Stories

Meet The KOEL Kids

Meet the KOEL Kids: Izziyana Suhaimi

Meet The KOEL Kidsirene hoofs

Yesterday marks Singapore’s 51st National Day as an independent state. Though it may be small and ever-growing, Singapore has seen an increasing vibrancy in the art scene. As KOEL is based in Singapore (if you didn’t already know!), we felt that it was befitting then to introduce to you to the city’s very own embroidery artist, Izziyana Suhaimi! You may find her works rather familiar-looking, and that’s probably because they are! Some of Izziyana’s works are all over Pinterest, particularly her fashion illustrations with embroidered floral accents — a testament of the talents this city state holds.

1. Tell us more about your background and what led you to choosing embroidery as a craft? I studied Art, Design and Media at the Nanyang Technological University (in Singapore) majoring in Photography. For one of my modules, we had to work on assignment that required us to rethink an image and figure out how to extend it further. I decided to use embroidery to add depth and more meaning to it, and I just fell in love with the medium. I guess it helps that it runs in the family too, as both my grandmothers were embroiderers!

2. What makes you a KOEL Kid? Perhaps it’s the combination of different mediums, and the use of a traditional craft in a newer way.


3. Share with us the creative process behind each of your project. Usually it starts with a rough image of the work inside my head, and I try and bring it into reality. For certain projects, I will spend some time creating detailed plans before beginning on the actual work. For others, I will just start and see where the work takes me.


4. Pick one of your favourite designs and answer these quick questions! The inspiration behind this design is... Melting colours The dream store in which I would like to stock this design is… Totokaelo If this design made it big, I would… Make more. If this design could talk, it would say… Buy me!


5. Great things take time, so how much has changed since you first started embroidery and where do you see it in the next five years? Since I started, there seem to be a revival of textile crafts — a movement towards appreciating slow processes. It’s pretty cool to see the many different less conventional ways embroidery is used. Next five years.. I would love to see it used with even more unexpected mediums like motion graphics, sound art, light shows, etc.


Photo Credits: Izziyana Suhaimi

Meet the KOEL Kids: Haily Tran

Meet The KOEL Kidsirene hoofs

When we first saw Haily Tran’s woven art via B for Brian, we were captivated by her play of shapes and colours. After learning that she also plays in a jazz band, we knew this lady would have a lot of creativity and sass— and truly, the “future” Mrs. Chris Hemsworth did not disappoint! Her tapestry pieces are named after jazz standards, and made from Australian or New Zealand yarn fibres. Just like her works, Haily is as much fun and effervescent as she is sophisticated. Read on, and you’ll see why.

1. Tell us more about your background and what led you to choosing weaving as a craft? I have a musical background. I mostly view the world through sound and listening. Exploring the visual arts is something I started doing over 3 years ago when travelling through Turkey. I watched women in small regional communities dedicate not just their generation to weaving tapestry carpets but also their children’s generation. I watched one woman weave a fine silk carpet that was started by her grandmother! I was very much taken by this and felt the desperate need to bring this skill back with me. When I came back home, I had to find a way to explore these new techniques with creating artwork that I could relate to. That’s when I started to combine my love of music into visual translations and weaving.


2. What makes you a KOEL Kid? My weaving technique is weft-faced. It is very packed and dense like a piece of carpet — the way I was taught in Turkey and through a teacher named Sarah Lindsay from the Australian Tapestry workshop. I’ve never been interested in creating anything quickly. There is something about the process of intensive concentration, walking away and coming back to the piece of work with fresh eyes that surprises me every time. It is one of the most rewarding aspects I get out of spending time making something patiently.


3. Share with us the creative process behind each of your project

  1. Music. It ALWAYS starts off with a piece of music. I mainly listen to classical music and mostly perform a large jazz repertoire. Whether it is in the middle of a rehearsal or learning lyrics to a new song, I get an idea from there.
  2. I think about what the composer wants to portray in their story through the particular song. How this story translates to me. What feelings and colours it provokes for me.
  3. I then do a rough sketch in my notebook but this is not where the ideas come out.
  4. It happens when I stand in front of the mountains of yarn I have and think about the colours that relate to the interpretation of my song. I pick out no more than 8 colours then off I go (sounds simple but sometimes I stand there for a good two hours!).
  5. For me, nothing compares to the reality of executing the idea. Yarn once woven, tends to be darker than what you predict. So until I sit down to weave some colour samples, I can never really tell what it will turn out like.
  6. Once I have decided on colour, structure and texture naturally follows.

4. Pick one of your favourite designs and answer these quick questions!

The inspiration behind this design is… The ‘Time Out’ CD cover by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. It was illustrated by S. Neil Fujita who was famous for illustrating jazz album covers in the 1950s.

I would love to see this design at… My dream venue for this ‘Time Out’ series (which will be released some time later this year) is the ’Blue Note Jazz Club’ in New York!

Which celebrity house wall can you see this being hung on… Chris Hemsworth’s home. If he’ll have it. I’ll also come free as his wife.

If this design made it big, I would… have to create a limited series and be done with it. I don’t enjoy doing things over and over. Destroys my soul a bit having to repeat things without exploring new ideas.

If this design could talk, it would say… “Have a break. Take 5”.


5. Great things take time, so how much has changed since you first started weaving and where do you see it in the next five years? I have changed an enormous amount in the last 3 years. When I look at the first series I made for Gorman Clothing, I see an exploration of patterns. I had noticed an exploration of texture in the second series I made for Modern Times (a mid-century furniture shop in Melbourne). The upcoming‘Time Out’ series will see me focusing heavily on colour and more colour-mixing techniques. In 5 years’ time, I hope to be able to explore more fine tapestry skills like focussing on colour interpretations of paintings into tapestries. And be Mrs. Hemsworth of course. (KOEL: Don’t forget to send us your invites!)

Photo Credits: Haily Tran
Photo Credits (right): Mareehomer Photography