Niki Livingston created Lookout & Wonderland as an inspiration center, providing a nesting place for artistic collaboration, brand development, creative direction and the making of hand crafted goods. The original mission of the initiative was as a resist and natural dye research project with a concentrated focus on the exploration of the sociological aspects of colour, alchemy and surface design. Her studio creates a range of multi-use textiles that allow the viewer to become an active participant in the form and function of the artwork.
A true artist, Niki is also a skilled weaver, amongst other things. Her light-filled studio is always an inspiring place to visit - busy with a never-ending procession of work in various stages of completion, yet also filled with a calmness in its creative hum.
Niki uses an indigo called indigofera tinctoria, derived from an organic farm in India. Proceeds help support local women’s groups and small scale farming in the area.
Two different types of indigo vats are used. The traditional fermentation technique is made from organic lime, madder root, organic wheat bran and organic indigo. This process, which can take a few weeks to ferment, sees the indigo reduced to a water soluble form, with the oxygen being removed from the water so the extraordinary colour is produced.
What is known as a sugar vat is a faster method of naturally reducing the indigo to a soluble form without chemicals. For this, Niki uses organic lime, organic indigo and some sort of organic fruit sugar - typically banana.
Using numerous different shibori techniques, Niki can command a variety of results and outcomes. For geometric resists she uses itajime shibori, while for more linear designs she employs a combination of kanoko shibori and a Yoruban technique called adire. A deconstructed version of miura shibori gives another look again.
The dye process itself is very specific. Unlike synthetic dyeing, where the fabric is simply left in the dye for a specific amount of time, indigo dyeing takes multiple dips over many days to build the colour. Niki is skilled at working the fabric in the vat in a way so as not to introduce oxygen.
Then follows a lengthy finishing process of rinsing and drying to create the authentic pieces you see in these images. This is a labour-intensive, lengthy process, with each piece taking at least seven days to create and finish properly.
Assembly of Objects are delighted to feature Lookout & Wonderland in our current range of California-inspired limited edition gift boxes.
For our limited edition Her box, Niki has designed and hand-dyed a range of exclusive silk twill scarves. Of a most versatile size, these indigo beauties lend themselves to an infinite number of uses both decoratively and sartorially. Each scarf is unique, and each impossibly beautiful.