Whistles Women: Liv and Dom
Meet Liv & Dom: the ceramicists, illustrators and twins behind the eponymous homeware brand that celebrates women through the female gaze. Their work is defined by its playful nature and distinctive aesthetic and they are fast becoming ones to watch.
Liv & Dom are joining Trekstock, ourselves and Twin Magazine later this month to take on the highest peak in North Africa and have designed a T-shirt for Whistles to raise funds and awareness for young adults with cancer. We sat down with the twins – who are both as cool and charming as their creations – in their home-come-studio in Lewes to talk about the inspiration behind their work, their preparation for the charity trek and much more.
How would you describe your brand to people who haven’t seen it before?
Liv: Playful, modern and celebratory.
Dom: We create everything from incense holders and jewellery to illustrations and we base our work on nudity, the female body and its many forms.
Can you talk us through your journey towards becoming ceramicists and illustrators?
Liv: We both studied illustration at university but it wasn’t until our final year that we tried out different mediums and got into ceramics.
Dom: There was a lot of trial and error as we were teaching ourselves – it was completely new to us – but that’s where our passion for ceramics sparked.
When did you first realise how much you loved visual arts?
Liv: We always loved art and creating from a really young age – as children really. We enjoyed academic subjects throughout school too but it soon became obvious that this was our main passion.
Dom: It became clear that this was the only thing that we would be able to sustain an interest in long term.
"Our brand is playful, modern and celebratory. We create everything from incense holders and jewellery to illustrations and we base our work on nudity, the female body and its many forms."
What do you love to create most?
Liv: Anything that’s new. We love discovering fresh ideas and ways of working.
Dom: It’s always exciting to find ways to add a unique element to old favourites too. For example, our incense holders and bestsellers are always evolving in different ways.
How do your skill sets come together? And how do you inspire each other?
Liv: We have different ways of working and come up with our own ideas. I do a lot of the 2D work and illustrations, whilst Dom makes all of the incense holders – because she’s just better at it. We have different areas that we focus on in terms of the business too. I look after all our social channels and all of our correspondence. Dom is also the quality control – she’s got such a great attention to detail.
Dom: Our separate roles and make the most of our strengths, I think.
Where does most of your inspiration come from?
Liv: It may sound cliché but honestly, we are both big fans of Henri Matisse. We studied him so much throughout our degree and we love his work – it’s so influential.
Dom: We’re inspired by so many illustrators and artists nowadays that it’s hard to narrow them down – but we’re also very inspired by fashion. It inspires the details on a lot of our figures – for example the boots we add and other accessories, so it’s important to us to stay engaged with trends.
“We love discovering fresh ideas and ways of working.”
What kind of women/customers do you create art for?
Liv: All women. I think a lot of people love our work because we focus it on a variety of body types and shapes.
Dom: There are so many inspirational women out there and it’s cool that so many people can relate to our work. It’s about celebrating everyone – no matter what size they are.
What do you want people to feel when they buy, see and display your pieces?
Liv: Whatever they want to feel. A lot of people have found our pieces entertaining – when we first started selling the nude pieces they really made people laugh.
Dom: We liked that. We started to realise that our work could make people feel good.
What are you most proud of to date and why? Do any particular projects or achievements stand out?
Liv: We recently did a really cool project with Netflix to support the show Sex Education and worked on a piece exploring sex and virginity.
Dom: That was really exciting as we’re big fans of the show. And we’ve done some cool collaborations with other international brands, creating designs for beach towels and deck chairs. We’re lucky to try out so many different types of things.
“A lot of people have found our pieces entertaining - when we first started selling the nude pieces they really made people laugh.”
You also run a series of workshops, can you talk tell us more about those?
Dom: Yes we run monthly workshops at Bonds in King’s Cross and teach people how to sculpt their own nude incense holders, using the same techniques as us.
Liv: It’s pretty casual and relaxed, people have drinks while they’re learning and get to take the finished incense holders home at the end.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you have liked to do?
Liv: It’s so hard to say or even imagine doing anything else, because we’ve always been creative and went straight into running our business after graduating. Maybe teaching – we enjoy that element of the workshops and there was definitely a stage where I thought I wanted to teach.
Dom: You did go through that stage, I remember. Maybe we’d look after and help animals – we love cats and have our own, called Percy. We could have had our own cat home.
Are there any other artists or brands you love at the moment?
Dom: We love so many, we follow about 1,500 Instagram accounts and they’re almost all artists and homeware brands, with some fashion thrown in. Painters we love at the moment are Wayne Pate, Ines Longevial and Isabelle Feliu.
Liv: A few of our favourite ceramicists are LRNCE, Eleanor Bostrom, Rami Kim and Ivy Weinglass. We used to be really into embroidery and textile design too before ceramics and we really like Laurie Maun and Katherine Plumb’s bold graphic cushions. We’re also fans of more intricate work like Ellie Mac embroidery and Lora Avedian.
"We would love to collaborate with an embroidery artist or a fashion brand to design our own intricate embroidered pieces."
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Liv: We would love to collaborate with an embroidery artist or a fashion brand to design our own intricate embroidered pieces.
What’s next for Liv and Dom?
Dom: Collaborations we have coming out (and can talk about) in the next few months are our jewellery collection with Wolf and Moon Hackney and a candle with the fantastic guys at Earl of East London.
Liv: We also have a lot of new ceramics coming out soon too, as well as an essential oil burner in a similar style to our incense holders. We’ve been working on Zodiac themed decorative pieces.
You’re taking part in a trek in May with ourselves at Whistles, Twin magazine and Trekstock to raise funds and awareness for young adults living with cancer in the UK. What does this trek mean to you and how have you been preparing for it?
Liv: We heard about Trekstock months before we were asked to work with them. We took part in a panel discussion at the Hoxton Hotel focused on celebrating womanhood through craft and met Lauren Mahon, a cancer survivor and fundraiser for Trekstock. She was so inspirational – we came away moved by her story and really wanted to get involved.
Dom: Being asked to do this project and take part in the trek felt like it was meant to be.
We have been doing lots of long walks in the South Downs behind our new house in Lewes – we absolutely love nature so getting out to practice isn’t too hard.
You also designed a T-shirt in support of the trek. Can you talk us through the inspiration for this design and how it came together?
Liv: The idea was to get across the ‘story’ of the trek and we knew we wanted to include a woman, a mountain silhouette and the Trekstock logo.
Dom: We insisted on including nudity and we’re so glad that element made it into the design, because that really is at the core of our brand and it makes it much more playful.
Liv: The style of the tee is simple to ensure it is wearable, timeless and classic. We chose the pose to reflect an uplifting, supportive spirit that we think is important for the charity and this challenge.
"Being asked to do this project and take part in the trek felt like it was meant to be."
The Whistles x Trekstock tee designed by Liv & Dom is now available – £5 from each sale of the t-shirt will be donated to Trekstock.
Trekstock is a Registered Charity No. 1132421