Monday, May 31, 2010

Feature Designer - KISWA - Tasmanian Screen Printing Label

It is with much excitement that I bring you one of my favourite
designers around - Kiswa - the funky Tasmanian screen print and textile design house with a brand new range of 'Tea Tales!'

I met Liisa Peisto in 1997 when we were both studying Visual Art at University. Now this is one clever woman who could teach anyone a thing or two about fabric design and screen printing! A very talented lady with such a phenomenal flare for design. Liisa has joined creatively with her husband Ben to create Kiswa's ingenious symbolic juxtapositions. Kiswa's designs exude a sense of intrigue into a mysterious world and are masterly printed in a way that exemplifies the ultimate meaning of a 'beautifully crafted object that also functions as a work of art.'

Kiswa will be exhibiting in The Tea Towel Exhibition
opening 30th July 2010 at the Serpentine Gallery in Lismore, Australia.

 Detail from the "Tea Tales" Series, Hand Screen printed
By Kiswa 2010

Tell me a little about your background - what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

Kiswa, the brainchild of husband and wife team Benjamin Cook and Liisa Peisto, was born early 2008. Kiswa, a Tasmanian screen print and textile design house, takes its name from an Arabic word meaning ‘a beautiful covering or garment’, something which governs their design philosophy as they strive to clothe the objects of your daily life in beauty through their range of hand printed personal accessories, home wares, and artworks.

Liisa’s illustrious career as a master screen printer covers the past decade, with highlights including being the Head Table Printer at Signature Prints where she worked with the Florence Broadhurst collection. At signature she also printed wallpaper for The Matrix and curtains for the Harry Potter movies, and printing cloth for Australia’s top fashion design houses including Sass and Bide, Zimmerman, and Karen Walker, as well as working alongside Akira Isogawa on print development for his home-wares and fashion collections.

Liisa’s other activities include community arts projects teaching screen printing in indigenous communities, with diverse-ability groups, and within community housing projects. Benjamin, currently completing his PhD at the University of Tasmania, has a background in philosophy, which complements Liisa’s hands on skills. He draws on the relationship between metaphysics and art to blend traditional patterns and symbols within a modern design sensibility. Together their goal is to develop a new Tasmanian brand that employs subtlety and intelligent design. For images of our product range and news check out

 Detail from the "Tea Tales" Series, Hand Screen printed
By Kiswa 2010

What is your favourite thing you like making and why?
The Kiswa products have developed considerably since their inception. We are happy with the current product range with each product line bringing unique elements and challenges in their construction. For instance, the reversible pocket wallet allows us to present two unique faces, one external and evident, the other internal and, unless reversed, hidden; the pencil cases offer a nice standardised canvas to present a range of unique images, often considered too nice to merely hold pencils; and our satchels provide a medium for daily use, functional art. Beyond this, we are pleased most of all with the versatility of our tea towels, both in their variable functionality as art/home ware and in their usability in displaying a technical use of the screen print medium.

Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

The inspiration for Kiswa's design aesthetic is derived from traditional symbolism. By reinvigorating traditional symbols we are able to construct a narrative that is both visually and philosophically intricate. While the use of symbolically laden elements allows us to add depth and intrigue to our work, we are aware that the subtlety of these symbols, at times, makes the story obscure. For this reason we have started our “tea tale” range which, through the addition of a short tale, allows us to highlight the symbolic content of our images. 

What is your ultimate purchase?

Our ultimate purchase was a set of hand made screens, squeegees, and coating trays. We bought these from an individual who was closing down his screen print business as we were starting Kiswa. Upon receipt of the first few items that came from him we were amazed by their quality and contacted him to see what else he had to offer. He explained that he had custom made each of these items. We believe that the quality of these items in conjunction with each other helps us in getting a crisper, cleaner screen and print allowing us to produce the highest possible hand printed product that we can produce. Beyond this, we are hanging out to purchase a good heat setter as we have had to find an ingenious method to heat set all our products, which, while good, is time consuming. 

All images courtesy of Kiswa. Check out the Kiswa website! 

Thank you so much Liisa and Ben for your informative and inspiring interview. We can't wait to see what you both create in the future!!!!!

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