Friday Five with Lily Kwong

March 30, 2018 Vy Tran

To celebrate Women’s History Month, every Friday in March we’ll be featuring women in the design world in our Friday Five column.

Friday Five with Lily Kwong

If you’ve visited The 14th Factory in Los Angeles, you might have seen Lily Kwong’s installation or, if you’re familiar with the fashion world, recognize her from an editorial spread or two. Model, muse, and all around modern woman, Lily wants to beautify urban landscapes by making them greener so that people can more readily connect with nature, especially in places where such a connection is hard to cultivate and grow (puns not intended). Since graduating from Columbia University with a degree in Urban Studies, she has since founded her own studio, STUDIO LILY KWONG, a next generation landscape design firm that wants to forge powerful intersections between landscape, art, fashion, wellness and activism. Lily was also recently named by the New York Times as one of the “9 Young New Yorkers Poised for Creative Greatness” and inaugurated into Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Class of 2018 in the Art & Style category. Check out her green picks below for today’s Friday Five.

#1 NEW INC.
It’s the first museum-led incubator. I’m blessed to be in their 2017-18 class – this creative ecosystem is what I’ve been craving since I moved to New York 10 years ago! They provide co-working space, a year-long training program, experienced mentors and countless other resources. My landscape design studio draws inspiration from so many other art forms, so to be immersed in an interdisciplinary community dedicated to innovation, diversity, collaboration and sustainable practices is an actual dream come true.

Six Senses Douro Valley Vegetable Garden, Douro, Portugal, by Topiaris. Photo by João Morgado.

#2 MY MENTORS
Topiaris have been my collaborators and landscape architecture mentors since they adopted me in my early 20’s. Female founders are sadly still rare in architecture, and two out of the three founders of this award-winning studio are talented women with 30 years of experience. I collaborate closely with them on special projects around the world, and since they’re based in Lisbon I get to work out of Portugal often and have completely fallen in love with the country and culture. Matthew Bannister of DBOX has given me enormous support that’s been truly humbling, and Pier 24’s Director Chris McCall remains my oldest and dearest teacher for 15 years now! These humans and so many others (mom, dad!) have been immensely generous with sharing their wisdom, experience and spirit with me – I couldn’t live without them.

#3 TIME’S UP
This unified call for change from women everywhere and across all industries is deeply empowering. It feels like there’s been a seismic shift and a new age is here – where fairness, justice and freedom to live one’s fullest expression is finally in reach. Too many voices have been silenced and too much potential has been squandered by systemic inequality. It’s time to act – go donate at timesupnow.com.

Photo via nycgovparks.org

#4 MY HOUSEPLANTS + URBAN PARKS
Make cities greener. It’s that simple. I encourage everyone to fill their space with plants – not only do they boost oxygen levels and filter the air, but studies show they decrease stress and boost productivity & creativity. Plus, they’re beautiful. I’m in awe of local heroes like Friends of the High Line that rallied to save the structure and turn it into one of the most iconic, extraordinary linear parks in the world. We need more environmental stewards and community stakeholders willing to battle for vital green space as our cities grow. I’m excited to collaborate with the High Line this summer as a designer on a the High Line Hat Party, a new fundraising event that will celebrate creativity and raise essential funds to support the park. You can also make a gift to support the High Line here.

Photo by Lily Kwong

#5 SPOTIFY
I can’t write an email, sketch a plan, put together a deck, take a flight, walk down the street, or have friends over without music. Harmony is a universal language and I draw so much inspiration from being transported to other time periods, cultures and dimensions with music! Currently on repeat: Emahoy Tsegué, Moodymann, Khruangbin, Nightmares on Wax, Patti Smith.

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