We hope this message finds you well. We want to share an important update regarding the future of Kiiro, the art and lifestyle brand that we both co-founded in 2020.
Our journey with Kiiro began as a shared passion project, driven by our mutual love for the timeless allure of indigo. Despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic, we managed to achieve significant milestones during our time working together.
Together, we fulfilled art commissions and handcrafted art for our discerning customers. We designed and supplied functional clothing and other items to boutiques in Vietnam, the USA, and the UK, including restaurant supplies. It was a rewarding journey that allowed us to bring indigo-inspired creations to individuals around the world.
However, as life often takes us on different paths, we have made the decision to part ways professionally. Tom is currently pursuing a Masters Degree at The Royal College of Arts, which is an incredible opportunity for him to further his expertise. Lilly will continue her art practice while also taking on the responsibility of developing the Kiiro brand independently.
We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you who has supported Kiiro throughout our journey so far. Your encouragement, patronage, and enthusiasm have meant the world to us. While this marks the end of our formal partnership, it is not the end of the Kiiro story. Lilly remains deeply committed to the brand and its artistic vision.
Kiiro looks forward to sharing new and innovative indigo-inspired creations with you in the near future. Please stay tuned for updates and announcements as Kiiro embarks on this new chapter.
Thank you for being a part of the Kiiro community.
Team Kiiro 2020 – 2023, Lilly Wong and Tom Scrimgeour
The various Noren were commissioned by Gom Studio – a pottery house and art workshop.
Designed and made by Lilly Wong.
Established in June 2020, Gomsaigon’s 2nd branch is located on the 2nd and 3rd floor of a heritage building that has been converted into boutiques, it is in the heart of Saigon’s district 1.
The style at Gomsaigon is characteristic of Wabi Sabi principles and minimalist aesthetics. Ky – the founder of Gomsaigon and his young team create a simple and beautiful line of ceramic products which are complimentary to modern life.
The design direction for the noren sets are based on a natural connection and symbolism to the established aesthetic and growth of Gomsaigon.
I always try to make personal connections where ever I can. “Ki-iro” means “yellow colour”. The colour of the ginkgo leaves are golden yellow in Autumn.
Noren Set 1/3 – Gomsaigon Studio entrance (3rd Floor)
Ginkgo symbolises longevity and good fortune. The ginkgo fan shaped leaf is thought to demonstrate the ever widening future spreading out. This fits into Gomsaigon’s artistic expansion of not one, but now two venues.
Noren Set 2/3 – Main Entrance (Floor 2)
It was an clear design decision in terms of motifs and purpose. Located at the end of a corridor-easily missed, the entrance of GomSaigon had to be instantly identifiable for the casual browser. The breeze throughout the building encourages the linen noren to dance, inviting one to walk towards the studio and enter surprised to find an idyllic space of artistic happenings.
Noren 3/3 – Main Window
This Noren is the largest of the sets, which hangs over the main windows that overlooks onto the Norte Dame Cathedral. By day, this spot experiences most of the elements – sun, rain, wind; the ginkgo leaves gracefully embraces them and appears to be blowing in the breeze.
The indigo dye process exercises my patience and perseverance levels. With focus and discipline, it takes a great deal of commitment to see the work though from beginning to end. Any shortcuts taken, shows in the results. Every dyeing session is a lesson learned.
Moon Installation #no2 comprising indigo batik on cotton panels and Yukata Kimono.
Lilly Wong & Tom Scrimgeour in collaboration with Square Roots.
We explore the dramatic phases of the moon as it rises into its full shape. As the moons ascend, the darker the indigo panels become sending the moon deeper into the nights sky. The epic industrial environment lends space to the installation, adding to the magnitude and scale of the project and the coming of an optimistic new lunar year.
The steel and pipework feels its way across the factory floor, floating kimono positioned like soldiers, occupy the free space while complimenting the moon phases. These wearable art pieces hang like supernatural beings, phantoms brought alive by the light breeze.
Justin Wheatcroft of Square Roots, approached us at the right time. With his new furniture factory nearing completion, there would be a sweet spot of a few days where we would have autonomy of the expansive space to make something before the factory would be put into operation. Our minds rattled with ideas, and the possibility of producing something on such a colossal scale overshadowed the logistics of how to accomplish such a task. We quickly had a working theme and plan to set us on our way. The installation would be an extension of Lilly’s original Moon Installation #no1 on a much larger scale, and with lunar new year around the corner, the timing was perfect. Justin is Co-Founder & Managing Director at Square Roots – designers and craftsman of contemporary furniture.
In the banner design process, the lunar phases are split into 9 panels, with the new moon forming the centre piece. The moons grow outwards as the indigo panels darken until reaching the two outer bright full moons. The darkest shade of fabric was achieved by over thirty dips into the indigo dye vat.
The Kimono installation mirrors the full moons and creates a wearable part of the collection and a core ethos of our company – wearable art.
From start to finish, this was a labour of love – the hands on approach that drives us. Practical work is play and a vital component of our creativity. The installing of the artwork was lots of fun, helped along by the skilled members of staff at Square Roots.
The moon’s phases are mathematically aligned as they rise up the banners, giving rhythm to the natural phenomena of our satellite’s orbit around us.
Executing the entire process involved sourcing fabric, planning, designing, painting, indigo dyeing, sewing and assembling the installation. The result is something beautiful made for others to enjoy, handcrafted and validated by the appreciation and personal engagement of others. This purpose has arrived perfectly for Lunar New Year, a connection we all have and an art piece we can all understand and admire; the purpose is to celebrate with everyone.
This is our essential everyday pant for working, playing and exercising. Inspired by the practicality of the judo pant, with its move-ability and soft light fabrics, these unisex pants are for everyone. Enjoy listening to the latest playlist while reading our blog.
True to our ethos of incorporating functionality into our designs, our pants are designed as an essential item to suit an active lifestyle. A built in drawstring tie lends a practical element to the judo pant for quick and secure adjustments. The addition of large pockets is modern necessity for carrying ones belongings. We also opted for lighter breathable materials using 100% cotton in our white pants and 100% linen for other colours.
Fun, Comfortable, Active, Stylish; Alex wears the judo pants in his wood workshop and garden.
Lightweight and breathable enough for Yoga, yet durable for day to day wear. Flat fell seam work completes a quality finish, ensuring the pants will last daily use and wash after wash. In the images below, Amy exercises in the white judo pants.
The Judo or Judogi 柔道着 was the first martial arts uniform designed making its first appearance at the beginning of the 20th century. The Judo set consists of a jacket and pants, the jacket’s ancestry being the Kimono, with sleeves continually shortened until its optimum practicality was insured.
Much like lighting a good fire, one year ago we warmed our indigo vat for the first time. Seasoned material and knowledge is required. Patience, learning and graft are necessary before the beautiful results can be appreciated.
Reflecting on our last year has been as emotional as the journey itself. All of natures elements thrown at us as we navigated the immense task of making our art a reality. Every once in a while we hit calm waters and enjoy the fruits of our labours, before setting out on more adventures after the changing and unpredictable currents of 2021.
As is life, and one lived fully and fast.
Enjoying listening to our Birthday Playlist whilst reading our story!
Lilly and Tom
With a deep friendship, serendipity brought us together. A spontaneous quality we both have about us!
Riding a wave of optimism, excitement and synergy we launched our company one year ago as Kimono Oi, designing and making our first item that became our signature piece – the crop Kimono.
We quickly loaded our motorbikes up with as much carefully packed items as we could carry and hit the road north of the city to the mountainous city of Da Lat. The cool air at this altitude, made a fun testing ground and a great respite from the heat before heading down the old French built roads to Phan Thiet. Here the sand dunes and beaches of Mui Ne formed the back drop to our Yukata and lounge ware kimono.
These photoshoot trips are part of our process.
For our kimono, we set out to honour the traditional form – using the shape as a canvas, whist also adapting it to modern practicality with the inclusion of pockets and a tailored cut in some instances.
We achieved this in our crop kimono, cutting the garment at the waist, incorporating clever elements so it can be styled in a multitude of ways.
In Saigon, Lunar New Year came around quickly. With little but essential services open during what became a mini lockdown, Lilly and Tom put their efforts into indigo dyeing and creating art work.
With both strokes, the brush met our Yukata, linens were made ever darker by our experiments with indigo and resist shapes of polka dots, splashes and strokes formed unique wearable art pieces.
The feeling of seeing our crafted panels of fabric made up in our kimono designs was incredible.
Following on from a period of some stability between lockdowns where we set out to create a unisex item for everyone. These reversible Happi are great fun, an outfit change, or an item that can be shared – Happi!
Chef Logan cooks the good stuff. At our showroom’s on-site kitchen we enjoyed his award winning food and managed to get a photoshoot completed in the process for our chef aprons.
We launched our chef aprons after a need for a functional and durable apron. Tom drew on his career as a chef and our relationships with head chefs in Saigon to create the ultimate apron, using style, durable materials and useful features such as the built in utensil holders.
Our love of indigo came into use during our extended lockdown. Having moved our vat home just before our internment, we dyed into the night, producing beautiful art, napkins and table runners for our stockists in the USA.
Lilly put out all the stops, designing big moons painted onto linen in beeswax, destined for the dye vat. These pieces have been on display at Soma as large wall hangings and hand made Noren.
Here, the integrity of our ethos was solidified further, with our dreams and innate desire to create art becoming the natural centre of what we do.
The inclusion of our art range completes us and what we now do.
Defining what you are is an organic process that evolves with time. Nothing can replace the journey, the learning, the emotions, the Lilly, the Tom, without such action, patience, passion and in the end a deep unity that is felt and understood by the trained eye who loves, appreciates and understands the artists.
So, what’s next….
Well you will find out soon!
What we can tell you, is it’s going to be more adventures! Happy Birthday!
Indigo Noren & Moon Art Pieces are on display at Soma
Soma in Thao Dien Ward, Ho Chi Minh City is now host to original art pieces created by lillywong.art for Oi. Read ahead to learn more about the artist’s work, process, how you can commission your own pieces.
About our Noren and Art
Noren 暖簾 are traditional Japanese fabric dividers hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways or in windows.
The natural Linen has been batik resist dyed to create the circular moons. The deep blue has been submerged in the indigo vat over twenty times to achieve its colour. Varying shades of blue extend out of the white centre revealing the gradation in the dye process.
The batik process uses beeswax to form a resist on an area of the fabric where the indigo dye cannot permeate. The rest of the fabric takes to the indigo leaving the waxed area white when removed. The work requires much time, patience and love to complete.
The moons came about after long nights of dyeing, with the full moon providing light and inspiration.
Lillywong.art and Kiiro
Co founder Lilly is a practising artist, showcasing her art pieces through Kiiro. The large moons can also be found on a smaller scale in Kiiro’s homeware collection.
Commission your own
Leave us your contact details in the form below if you are interested in owning your own unique piece and Lilly will get in touch.
Indigo Napkins and Runners
In our shop, we have a collection of napkins and table runners available using the same techniques shown in the art pieces. They make a beautiful addition to any table set.
“And now have I put in here, as thou seest, with ship and crew, while sailing over the wine-dark sea to men of strange speech, on my way to Temese for copper; and I bear with me shining iron.” Homer – The Odyssey
In all the works of Homer there is no mention of the word blue – instead he describes the ocean as wine dark. This choice of description extends to other ancient civilisations too, from the Hebrew bible to ancient Chinese text, there is no mention or reference to the word blue, whereas black, white, red, yellow and green are mentioned countless times. Why, when colour vision was developed in humans 30 million years ago is this the case?
When linguists analysed this, they found out that in every culture, black and white make there appearance first. They are followed by red, yellow and finally green before blue as a descriptive word enters a given language. There are some strong reasons for this. As black and white distinguish between night and day they initially were the most useful words potentially explaining why they came first. Next, red with its connotation of blood and danger from self wound or the hunting of animals. Early cave paintings are brushed with red pigment. Finally green and yellow taught us to distinguish between ripe and unripe foods. But blue, although notably present in the nature world to us, did not enter our consciousness in the same way until much later.
Blue in Nature
Blue is seemingly everywhere, from clear skies, vast oceans, to tropical birds feathers and flickering butterflies. But are they as they seem? As light refracts across a butterfly or the wings of a bird it is distorted giving our eyes the illusion of blue. The colour is not set. The waters of our oceans are clear as is our air until light works its magic by bouncing through our thin atmosphere and creating a “blue” hue. True blue is very rare and its pigment comes from a leaf first cultivated in India – Indigo.
Experts mostly agree that we began to see blue as a colour when we started making blue pigments around 6000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians loved the the colour blue and used Lapis – a stone mined in Afghanistan mixed with limestone and other ingredients to produce saturated blue pigments. They were the only ancient culture to develop a word for blue before passing on their knowledge to other cultures in the region. However the dye was so expensive that blue remained rare for many centuries. The word started slowly spreading.
It wasn’t until the cultivation of Indigo in Asia and Africa and Woad in Europe that blue started to become more common – indigo being the stronger and more vivid pigment. Until synthesised in the 1900’s it is remarkable that a small green leaf is responsible for all the blue we see now.
Do you remember flash cards when you were learning at school? The teacher would hold up a colour and get you to say it. This process of learning has conditioned us to look for and recognise colours more stronger than we naturally would. Nursery rhymes and other songs sing the greatness of blue and have forever cemented it as the most popular and adored colour of them all.
Lilly and Tom of Kiiro love Indigo and passionately maintain their own indigo dye vats, producing garments and fabrics in true natural blue. From napkins and runners to adorn your table, to natural fabrics such as silk and linen turned into beautiful garments, we cannot get enough of Blue.
Since this article was published we have changed our name. The same ethos still applies.
We have simplified our brand name from Kimono Ơi to Ơi. In Vietnam, the expression Ơi is exchanged between everyone as a term of endearment and affection. You may notice we sometimes exchange the i for ! to make Ơ!. The intention is to grab your attention, subtly.
The R’s of Ơi
Refine – improve and fine tune the artwork, one must remove unwanted elements
Revisit previous work – evaluate the process and learn from the past
Reinvent old ideas, there is nothing wrong with starting over, finished work doesn’t mean its final, nothing is permanent
Resources – utilise existing skills or learn new ones to achieve the the best result
Reduce – don’t overkill – don’t go beyond what is required or suitable
Reflect – consider what went well, what didn’t and how to improve the next time
Ruthless – be ruthless, know when to stop
and always apply an element of fun where ever possible (!)
What is Oi about?
The simple necessities in life and beauty, and the value and appreciation of these things.
A work in progress – how we made Ơi
At Oi, we built our lifestyle brand from logo to products, so far keeping all aspects of design in-house. As an arts educator, Joint Founder Lilly habitually records her ideas; seeing an idea evolve, gaining a better direction and discovering new lessons. This process allows us to see how we are progressing and justify our ideas.
Can your idea be justified?
Asking questions makes good practice; you would want to get it right after all. The right design chooses its time, so one must allow for flexibility, because often than not, circumstances may change forcing one to take a different approach. This can be challenging and therefore it is important to not become too attached to initial ideas.
It always helps to have two minds working together as oppose to one, so always get a second opinion, a good rule of thumb in all life aspects, and always apply an element of fun where ever possible!
We have made a traditional work jacket for a modern lifestyle. The Indigo Happi is for lovers of simple functionality. This understated piece is perfect for everyday use.
Steve Jobs once commissioned Issey Miyake to help him design a uniform for Apple. Thinking it would help create a sense of team unity, what came out of it however was a uniform for Steve and his signature turtleneck and jeans look was born. Jobs’ autobiography reads – “That’s what I wear, I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”
There is a no-fuss, practical, no distraction mantra to having an everyday garment in your wardrobe. Something simple and functional for minimal distraction and focus.
Ideal for modern living, the Happi is a short length kimono akin to a jacket. It has a rich history as an item for all – from the working class to the wealthy, men and women. The jacket has a large role being used for uniform, becoming protective workwear for labourers and even firefighters who would embellish their designs to the garment.
Now more of a fashion statement than workwear, it is worn at festivals and is very popular as a comfortable, carefree and everyday jacket.
The Happi’s role as a uniform lives on with many companies, film production teams and restaurants outfitting their staff in matching Happi to give group unity.
Kimono Oi Classic Indigo Happi
When designing we looked at creating something simple and purposeful but unique at the same time. We have introduced our Classic Happi with purpose – to be unisex and for everyone, and to be functional with two large pockets that contrast the dark indigo lapel. Built-in ties neatly secure the garment together or hang out of sight when not in use.
The Happi is made from hand-dyed linen with a beautiful indigo painted silk lining.
Kimono Ơi has held a #checkout #tryon #takehome event at Soma Saigon. It was a great pleasure and opportunity to invite everyone to try our Kimonos on in person. It was a fun and successful event with happy new Kimono Oi owners. Check out the gallery below!
Soma is one of the cities great bar and events spaces with delicious, seasonal & healthy food provided by Chef Rohan of The Green Box.
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