October 2017, and our Member of the Moment is the talented Eliza Kesuma of Moody Monday.
First up, can you tell me who you are, and a wee bit about your business?
I am Eliza Kesuma; the surface and pattern designer and director, of Moody Monday. We create luxury artisan design-led bespoke wallpaper, fabrics and accessories for interiors, both contract and residential market; from our studio in Edinburgh. My designs are inspired by unconventional beauty that surrounds us. For me, it's about taking inspiration from the most unlikely places.
We have a very small but effective team here in the studio; at the moment the main team consists of Andrew and myself. Andrew is our studio and sales manager. We also have a small team of talented freelancers and volunteers that help us out when we need an extra pair of hands.
Did you study? Where?
I studied Design for Textiles (Fashion, Interior and Art) at Heriot-Watt University School of Textiles in Galashiels, specialising in Print.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me would be an early start, with the first priority being to put the kettle on and brew coffee in the French press. While waiting for the coffee to brew, I scan through my notes, calendar and Trello board to see what outstanding work I have to do for the week, keeping an eye on any deadlines, and plan my day based on this. I will then spend the next hour or two checking and responding to emails and tying up any loose ends from the previous day.
For the remainder of the day, I turn my attention to continuing or finishing any design or non-design work to progress existing projects and to ensure I meet the deadlines I keep noted on a list in my studio.
From time to time, I will have meetings scheduled for the day or I will attend events. I tend to schedule most of my meetings into the same day where possible, so I will have an uninterrupted few hours on a particular day to concentrate on any studio work in progress from my priority list.
What does your workspace look like?
I would say, not as glamorous as some might think. It’s very practical and low key, much like myself!
Where does your passion for the industry stem from?
I showed signs of an interest in creativity at a very early age. At six years old, I was either drawing, or writing poetry on the walls of the house, or ‘customising’ my clothing when I got my hands on a pair of scissors, much to the dismay of my poor Mum.
Whilst attending school, it was obvious to me that I was more interested in, and performed better at, the creative subjects as opposed to the more academic ones. I was drawing on anything – clothes, arms, textbooks, notebooks, bags, folders, shoes, etc. I even used to have my classmates queuing up for me to draw on them!
I would also design and make cards and gifts for friends and, with their support and encouragement, I started an early venture called ‘Nature’s Tribe’, featuring found objects and ink illustrations, which I worked on after school and then sold to classmates. My family convinced me to enter various design competitions held by different department stores in Jakarta, where we lived, and I won. The most notable of these was designing cards for Hallmark.
I moved to Scotland in 1999 and had aspirations to be a fashion designer, at first, enrolling at Heriot-Watt University to study Textiles and Fashion Design. At the end of my first year, I had more of an interest in textiles and decided to focus on this area going forward: specialising in print design. Throughout my time on the course, including placements, I found that I liked both print and surface design in both fashion and interiors; the versatility and tactility of the materials and colours used in fashion and the longevity/permanence of interiors. I also wanted to bring the excitement and innovation associated with fashion into interior applications: this is why I love playing with colours and different subjects and textures in my designs.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
I don’t think I could choose one single proudest moment of my career, as I am pretty proud of all of the experiences and achievements I have had so far. The creative industry is a hard one to break into, so you have to be proud and grateful for every single milestones you reach and give yourself a pat in the back for the great things you’ve achieved from your hard work; no matter how big or small, they all count for something.
Who are the influential figures you look up to for inspiration?
Both my late Mum and Grandmother were big inspirations for me. My Grandmother would always make interesting bags for me when she visited from Singapore and my Mum was always painting or making clothes for me, despite working full-time as a teacher. They both expressed their creativity in multiple ways, and were hoarders of interesting fabrics and fashion items.
On a more mainstream note, I really admire Bjork for her ever-evolving creative pursuits. She does what she feels is right at the time and does it with such originality, poise, and conviction.
I suppose the similarity with all of the three above is that they’re all fearless creative interdisciplinary passionate females!
What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline for the near future?
In addition to the bespoke projects to the contract market we are focused on, we are working on licensing partnerships with other brands and businesses to spread our design passion as widely as we possibly can.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Getting to see the look of sheer joy on the client's face when you finish a project and having them tell you that it turned out better than their initial expectations. Makes me feel like I’ve died and went to heaven, every time!
What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career so far and how could it be avoided?
Our studio move initiated last year and only just concluded in the past few months. Without going into great detail, it was a bit of a disaster and unfortunately had a significant impact on the running of the business. However, I believe that with every setback there is the opportunity to gain something invaluable out of it.
I think there are some setbacks or disasters that are impossible to completely avoid; in spite of the due diligence, research and investigation you’ve put in to ensure that you are making the right decision. Unless you can look into the future, there are some things in life just can’t be controlled. In this instance I had to force myself to accept what had happened, in order to get on with my life and the business; making the most out of a bad situation.
Who is your design inspiration?
It changes all the time, because there are just so many inspirational talents out there: past, present and future speaking, especially within the vast creative landscape beyond the world of interiors and textiles. I find a lot of people and subjects inspiring, even if they’ve not been intentionally so. It depends on what my mind is interested in, obsessing over and what I have found inspiring at the time.
A noteworthy one worth mentioning though is Barbara Hulanicki, whom I have had the great honour and pleasure in meeting in person, during a screening of the documentary ‘Beyond Biba’ a few years back.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
It’s from a Japanese idiom that means when life knocks you down, stand back up no matter what has happened, and continue on.
Someone gave me that advice during a very difficult time of my life, which sounded cliché and mildly insulting at the time, as if I was in the Karate Kid. But I saw the value of it much later on and been hanging on to it like a mantra ever since.
What are you looking for from the textile industry currently?
1. A sales agent to represent our business to the trade market in the UK and overseas, we are at that stage where we require a sales representative.
2. A means to a physical (brick and mortar) more permanent platform to present Moody Monday’s full collection, so people can take their time to absorb and appreciate the beauty of all we have to offer!
Any final thoughts, Eliza?
I think it would be great to have a dedicated sales-agent hired and assigned to represent and secure sales for Scottish textiles businesses, as a different kind of support from the government. The landscape of business looks a lot tougher and is rapidly changing; therefore the support we are getting from government and its supporting organisations needs to reflect this as well.
You can visit Moody Monday online or take a look at their Instagram.
Eliza Kesuma interviewed by Kimberley White