An interview with the creator of Boyfrengirlfren
Here at The Upcoming we are always looking to bring talented designers into the spotlight. Boyfrengirlfren brings patterns and motifs from around the world together into a quiet coexistence, the bags and apparel that bear the BF/GF stamp reflect an open-ended search through time and space. From the BF to the GF, from the soft to the loud, from the strange to the weird. BF/GF uses new, old, recycled, and self-created materials in designs that speak to everyone
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into designing bags and accessories?
I’m Lilian. I run a small on-line shop stocked with a collection of cute and strange handmade items.
When I completed school I started creating digitally based patterns that I really loved but had no idea what to do with. I kept imagining them as physical objects. I wanted them to be more than just a file on a computer or a print on a sheet of paper. So I decided to learn how to sew in an attempt to make something with these patterns.
This is how I began making things. I now work with new, old, recycled and self-created materials. There is something really special about working with your hands. You can’t quit, delete or undo.
Run us through a typical day for you?
Some days I get up super early and work all day. Others I sleep in and work through the evening and into the night. I guess I’m not a creature of habit, but I haven’t figured out whether that is a good or bad thing. Typically my work day/night consists of making items to fill individual orders, wholesale orders, etc. I also try to source new material to work with and find inspiration for new projects whenever I can. This includes going to thrift stores, browsing the World Wide Web, and visiting the giant textile store that I live near, on the regular.
How did you come up with the name Boyfrengirlfren?
I think it’s a common saying that for me is reminiscent of childhood/adolescence. I grew up in Chicago and I guess that is just the way a lot of kids talked, and I think that’s just how a lot of inner city kids talk. It seems funny to combine two words but shorten them at the same time. Like some weird new dialect created by the ethnic diversity of growing up in a big city.
What was the first piece you designed and how did you go about creating it?
The first real functional thing I designed was a book bag. I still use the design today and it is my best selling item. I had this mental image of the silhouette that I wanted and I found the perfect fabric for it. I don’t think I sketched it out. I remember making a pattern for it, cutting the fabric and starting to figure out how to construct it. It was intuitive but still with a lot of corrections along the way.
I really wanted to make a small vessel to carry your things in. Something that you could wear with a dress to visit the museum or on a short trip to the market on your bicycle. It’s made for easy days.
We materials do you typically use in your collections?
I work with a lot of upholstery fabric and canvas. I like these materials because they are strong but can have a nice softness to them when they are made with natural fibers. I really love working with fabric made of natural fibres because it just feels better. But it is definitely a challenge.
I have learned to print my own patterns/images onto canvas on a small scale. And recently I started block printing with patterns of ghosts, cacti, and gems.
When you are designing a piece does it grow organically as you make it or do you prefer to design it on paper first?
I don’t usually design on paper mainly because I draw like a small child. I start by cutting basic shapes either of paper or fabric depending on the project and taking measurements. This helps me figure out the basic construction. Once I learn how to construct the piece it becomes easier to elaborate on the design.
We love how unique your pieces are. Who, or what, is the inspiration behind your designs?
Thank you that’s nice of you to say! I’m inspired by time and space and things that I don’t understand. I think a lot of my aesthetic decisions come from existing in a cultural limbo. Feeling like I don’t fully belong to one ethnicity or gender or race. This allows me to gather small pieces of inspiration from all sorts of places without always realising the root of them.
My friend Devin wrote this and it might explain things a little further.
“BF/GF was born in a borderless world. Bringing patterns and motifs from around the world together into a quiet coexistence, the bags and apparel that bear the BF/GF stamp reflect an open-ended search through time and space. From the BF to the GF, from the soft to the loud, from the strange to the weird, with triangles but also fruit, like the yin and yang but with more alien heads and cats: BF/GF uses new, old, recycled, and self-created materials in designs that speak to childhood, deserts, houseplants and snacks.”
We love the Quilted Garden Pouch. Which is your favourite piece?
My favourite item is The People Bag. I wear is almost every day.
Each piece makes a fabulous statement – what kind of women wear your bags and accessories?
Someone who practices a departure from conventional styles. A person that likes plants and loves to eat snacks.
What do you get up to when you’re not designing new pieces?
I really love visiting thrift shops with my husband and late afternoon napping.
Finally, what’s next for you?
I will be participating in Renegade Chicago and soon working on a collaboration with Book Shop.
See more of Boyfrengirlfren’s kooky designs here.