All About Artisan
Brand-new craft boutique Lilify delivers design and whimsy to New Monterey.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
For Hanni Liliedahl and Jesse Silacci, artisan isn’t just a technique, it’s a way of life. The most recent result is newborn Lilify, a Lighthouse Avenue boutique in Monterey that unleashes a flood of vintage, floral and one-of-a-kind handmade goods.
“Our style is a medley of studied whimsy,” says Liliedahl, a freelance floral designer, jewelry maker and painter, among other things. “Clean lines, organic elegance, inspired by vintage delicacy and an understated flair of folk culture.”
The aesthetic is apparent immediately. In one corner hangs a series of colorful paintings from local talent Keith Damron, including an abstract cityscape set against a tattered canvas background. Next to it a group of tarnished wood shelves hold random relics including a 1970s green alarm clock, a stack of sepia stained books and a garland of rusty jingle bells strung around tin vases.
Close by, black-and-white illustrations from fine artist Chloe Wilson fill vintage mahogany leather briefcases (and start at $4). Varnished wood tables scattered throughout the store hold all sorts of discoveries. On just one alone, tiers of scented candles lay in a bed of potpourri and tower over Old World silverware, organic soaps, leaf-shaped soy sauce bowls, a variety of other colorful dish sets, vintage matchboxes and freshly bound to-do pads.
On the opposite end of the store, several racks of hand-crafted cards reveal soft watercolor flowers painted and printed by Liliedahl herself ($4) and simpler messages such as “I like your face” or “You > Cupcake” ($4).
Nearby a jewelry station presents semi-precious turquoise and jagged crystal quartz carved into necklaces, bracelets and rings by Monterey-based jewelry designer Rachel Zones. Liliedahl’s new line of metal jewelry – brass, silver and gold hammered down into perfectly simple geometric necklaces and earrings ranging $35-$59 – shares the space.
All told, it’s chicken soup for the artisan-seeking soul. But the most soothing element there might not be the endless artisan pieces so much as the nature-driven layout: One look up and suddenly you’re no longer in a store. Spanish moss cascades over crooked Manzanita-like tree branches hanging over exposed ductwork. Suddenly you notice the branches are supported by glassware and tied into wire fixtures throughout the store; elsewhere, piles of pine cones peek out between soaps and plates. Corn flowers, roses and a menagerie of other exotic flowers are grouped in bouquets, giving the store a certain serenity that would be absent without Liliedahl’s floral touch.
“I grew up in Southeast Alaska so I always had a palpable relationship with nature,” she says. “I kept finding myself being drawn to floral design.”
In college, Liliedahl sought out an internship with Flowers in the Foyer, a flower prep company in South Africa. After graduating, she continued her study of floral art in rural Japan where she studied Ikebana, or the art of flower arrangement. She then joined the Peace Corps, and ended up meeting Jesse in Guyana. She accelerated things by tinkering with the seating chart for a bus tour of the country’s interior.
“I not so subtly rearranged the assignments for the 16-hour bumpy bus ride,” she says. “We’ve been a couple ever since.”
After completing their 26-month service, they returned with the intent of creating a life they loved in California. After eloping – to a Santa Cruz courthouse – they set up shop in Monterey.
“It felt so suited,” Liliedahl says. “We felt an up-and-coming vibrancy to New Monterey that we liked very much.”
They invested two years reconstructing the derelict walls of the former Lighthouse Bar and Grill. Jesse built while Liliedahl designed.
“It’s been day-in, day-out construction,” Jesse says. “We’re happy everything has come together the way it has.”
Lilify opened last month and has since featured a range of local talents, including letterpresser Alissa Bell, paper designer Emily Brown, printmaker Jen Anderson, jewelry designer Rachel Jones and fine artists Damron, Breeann Kirby and Chloe Wilson. “We are all about collectiveness,” Liliedahl says. “We go out of our way to find artists that contribute to that vision. We believe our belongings should tell a story.”
And tell a story they do – a little artisan fairy tale, really, but one that has happened to come true.
LILIFY is located at 281 Lighthouse Ave. in Monterey, and open 10am-7pm Tuesdays-Saturdays and noon-5pm Sundays. For more information call 207-1380 or check out www.Lilify.com