Creative expression is food for our souls. It helps you see the world in new ways. Solve problems. Let go of fear. Kick bad habits (or double down on good ones). It’s an exploration of our inner self that translates to how we live, work and play.
Holly Lester, Bentley’s textile specialist, is a big believer in the benefits of creative expression – and she has numerous outlets for it that feed her appreciation of textiles and design. We asked Holly to tell us more: about what inspires her, how she connects her profession with her passions, and why she finds herself “so lucky” to love what she does.
This is what she had to say.
1. You are a winemaker. Tell us more.
It all started with just an idea – wouldn’t it be something fun to try? Wouldn’t it be a great thing for the family to do together? We doubted it would really work, but nearly 8 years later… I, alongside my husband, my sister and her husband, are in fact winemakers! We just leased a winemaking facility. Our first release is coming soon! This is what we want to do when we retire so we’re embedding our roots now.
2. You also have a passion for quilting. How does this hobby help you in your profession?
Quilts or carpets, my love for textiles is at the center of both. Many people choose hobbies that have nothing to do with their jobs, but for me, the ability to focus on patterning and design without the “demands” of what I need to do for work is an outlet. It frees me up so that I’m always learning and flexing my creative muscles. It’s my “daydream” time; it helps me think through challenges and look at colors in different ways.
3. You’ve made a lifelong career out of your love for textile design. How did you get your start?
I had the privilege of working for the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation in Los Angeles right out of school. Then I got a lead from one of my professors that Milliken was looking for a field designer. I was looking for a job and I didn’t necessarily want that one, so I decided I would just “be me” during the interview. I remember what I wore: jeans and a red fringe suede jacket. The rest is history, as they say. I worked for Milliken for 16 years – 10 in L.A. and then 3 in La Grange, Georgia where I worked on product design. I moved back to L.A. and worked for another 3 years in a sales capacity before I joined Bentley. The experiences, all together, give me terrific perspective, which I bring into my designs. I understand the designers’ point of view; I relate to the sales perspectives. It’s super interesting.
4. Let’s talk about the handcrafted artisan movement. Is it more than a trend?
Yes, I believe it’s much more than a trend. We all seem to be looking for something that’s meaningful and comforting in the chaos and uncertainty of the world today. The handcrafted movement provides that. In some ways, I think it started as a revolt against technology. But the interesting thing is that technology is its fuel; it’s made it more accessible and allowed us to become more handcrafted. It’s a weird but interesting dichotomy. So now that everyone has the “handcrafted bug” – the knowledge and the ability – I don’t see it going anywhere.
We’re seeing the movement play out in commercial design, too. Among designers and end-users, there’s a love of craft and physical materials that bring in texture and sense of comfort. The lines between work and home are blurring. Everyone wants the comforts and luxuries of home, no matter where they are. Corporate spaces are bringing in natural elements. The same is happening in healthcare. We’re seeking the perfectly imperfect. We want authentic experiences. The handcrafted and artisanal movements are giving it to us.
5. What are some of your sources of inspiration?
The first thing I do every morning is look at two food blogs: Half Baked Harvest and This Mess Is Ours. The photography is beautiful, but they also require me to take a step back. I read the recipes. It’s not instant gratification.
I’ve stopped reading books and now read magazines all the time. Dwell. HGTV. Magnolia. They let me look and rest my mind. I don’t have to think hard. I also get a lot of inspiration from Faith Ringgold – storyteller and textile designer.
6. What’s something about you that Julian Road readers may not know about you?
I actually have my own blog. Day Journey started as a way to stay connected with the designers I’ve met through work and throughout my travels. And my family is spread out too, so now it’s also a family connection. It’s another outlet of expression for me.