Contributor Spotlight / FOREST / Arounna Khounnoraj
Next up in our contributor spotlight series is Arounna Khounnoraj, @bookhou, a maker that's contributed projects to several of our issues. Most recently, her work can be found in No. 8 / FOREST for which she provided the Leaf Pillow punch needle project, and our newest publication, Winter Vol. 1 / GIFTS, which includes her Embroidered Sachet project. Arounna is a textile artist, teacher, and author of the book 'Punch Needle.' She co-owns Bookhou with her husband, John Booth; they have two children and live and in Toronto, Canada.
What is your craft, and how did you get started?
I am a textile designer, and since I was little, I was always sewing. But I spent my university days making large scale sculptures. I returned to textiles because of the immediacy of sewing and how meditative the process is.
How would you describe your aesthetic and style?
I would say that my work has a modern aesthetic, but with an organic quality that always has evidence of the hand, with an emphasis on materiality.
What made you want to design patterns?
I really enjoy drawing, painting, and printing, and it seemed like a natural extension to design patterns for fabric. When I discovered printing on cloth, it lead to creating products with my drawings on them. My patterns are not just simple repetition, there are variations within them, and that's what makes them interesting to me.
What's currently inspiring you?
I'm traveling and doing a fair amount of teaching, so I'd have to say that I'm currently inspired by my travels, getting experience from different cultures and environments has influenced my current drawings and patterns.
How do you refill your creative tank?
I refill my creative tank by leaving the studio to go for walks or to visit museums; I also like to visit the local parks with my camera. I usually come back with some botanical samples for my wall. Getting out of my workspace helps me to see things with fresh eyes when I return.
Do you have other passions and hobbies?
I would say that one of my hobbies is photography. I use it in my creative practice a lot, and I am always trying to improve on it and to view the world through the lens and capture small details that might otherwise be overlooked.
What's your favorite material to work with, and why?
I would say linen fabric is my favourite, it has a lot of strength and character, and it's very easy to work with, and when I print on it - the ink absorbs in a beautiful way, almost becoming a part of the cloth.
It also comes in so many different qualities and always looks like it contains so much history.
Tell us about a challenge in your making that you've overcome.
One of the challenges I have overcome recently is saying no to projects that I don't want to do. In the past, I would agree to do things that I didn't feel 100% about and later regret it and feel guilty. I now know my limits, and I want to do more projects that I feel will help me grow.
If you could tell yourself something back when you first started creating, what would it be?
I would say not to worry about what people say and think and that sometimes it's ok to keep your blinders on. We all have to search to find our voices, but I don't think I would have worried about things that, in the end, were not particularly important.
Has your craft changed any of your perspectives on life?
Yes, it's definitely changed my perspective in that I had to live my life being creative and not live a life without making. Because I work with natural materials and concentrate on handmade items, it's made me appreciate the handmade in general, such as in all the other things we bring into our lives, and to be as environmentally conscious as possible.
Why do you create & what do you hope to express with the things you make?
Like most artists or makers, I've always created things, it's just what I do, and I couldn't imagine my life any other way. As to why, I suppose it just makes me happy and fulfilled. I always wanted to bridge my artist side with my appreciation for utilitarian things, making everyday objects a little more special. I hope that my love for what I make comes through for others and expresses the same joy that I feel.
What is one of your favorite things about the Leaf Pillow you designed in FOREST?
I like that it's a shaped pillow. By doing it as the leaf shape and not a square or round, it really gave it personality, and it became more object-like.
Thanks, Arounna, for sharing a glimpse into your creative world; we loved learned more about you and are grateful for your lovely contributions to the magazine.
We hope the community enjoyed this interview with one of our contributors from FOREST. You can find Arounna’s Leaf Pillow punch needle project on pages 22-25 of Making No. 8 / FOREST, and her Embroidered Sachet project on pages 9-12 of Winter Vol. 1 / GIFTS. To keep up with her work, visit bookhou.com and follow on Instagram, @bookhou.