We Want To Know: Lisa Ho of ALWAYS x ALWAYS
Lisa Ho is an interior designer with an accomplished background, having spent a decade working for esteemed international interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg, bringing to life some of Toronto's most recognizable commercial spaces from restaurants to lounges, advertising agencies, as well as designing high-end private residences. Two years ago, Lisa took a chance on herself and started her own interior design company, Lisa Ho Studio. And, as of this week, Lisa can add 'product designer' to her list of creative accomplishments, as she just announced the launch of her new lifestyle brand, ALWAYS x ALWAYS. Lisa and I chatted recently so that I could find out more about her professional background and what inspired her latest venture.
Lisa grew up surrounded by art and design and developed an appreciation for these subjects from a young age. She was exposed to the technical side early on – her mother worked in engineering and Lisa would watch her work with AutoCAD to create technical drawings. Not surprisingly, Lisa would eventually pursue a career in design and attended Ryerson University, where she graduated with a degree in interior design. Her talent was recognized almost immediately, and was only in her second year of the program when she was hired by Yabu Pushelberg. While working at YP Lisa had the opportunity to work on many prestigious projects, and for the next ten years continued to learn and grow as a designer. In her last couple of years with YP, Lisa took on a few freelance projects before eventually start her own firm – it was always a dream of hers to make her mark in the industry and design under her own name, which she has done successfully for the last two years and will continue to do so alongside the launch of her new lifestyle brand.
ALWAYS x ALWAYS
In hindsight, Lisa realized that the idea for ALWAYS x ALWAYS was conceived in the early days of starting her interior design firm, and it started with a yoga mat and a renewed perspective on life. When I asked Lisa how the idea came about, she became quiet and reflective, and talked about how fulfilling her work was at YP and of her appreciation of the firm and her colleagues, but how on the other hand she was feeling consumed by her career, and that when it came to work-life balance the stones were piling up ever-higher on the work side of the scale. She was beginning to realize the importance of taking time for herself, and once she transitioned to working for herself, she directed her focus on health and wellness and started working out regularly to increase her strength and gain energy. She started attending gym classes but never had a decent quality yoga mat – they were always peeling and cracking and the designs were not inspiring. (Spoiler alert! Her yoga mat was the first product she designed!).
Another part of Lisa's health and wellness journey was internal and she dedicated attention to rediscovering her identity and what the meaning of life was for her. While she did have a workspace for her independent interior design firm at first, she soon transitioned to working from home because it was where she could be herself the most. Lisa put a lot of thought into what it was that brought her happiness, what made her feel calm, relaxed and inspired, and realized it was what she had already naturally surrounded herself with – tropical palm leaves, greenery, sunlight, bringing the outdoors in. She especially loved the juxtaposition between the concrete world and the organic, and this inner reflection allowed her to articulate what her true state of happiness is, and to create products that mirror her newfound outlook on life and a lifestyle brand that complements the home. The result is a line of products all featuring the iconic palm leaf motif. The name ALWAYS x ALWAYS (pronounced “always times always”) represents the infinite of everything. For Lisa, her lifestyle brand represents a healthy mindset, true happiness, self-love, and that we can achieve whatever we put our mind to.
Products currently available from ALWAYS x ALWAYS are yoga mats, mouse pads, cell phone cases, pillows, baby bibs, journals, notecard sets, custom wallpaper and removable wallpaper. Lisa already has ideas in the works for products she wants to add to the brand, so be sure to keep an eye out! In the meantime, visit the ALWAYS x ALWAYS website for more information.
Want more? Here's what We Want To Know about Lisa:
I can't start my morning without… Showering first thing in the morning, even if my first “meeting” is with myself at the gym. Mentally, it cleanses the mind and resets each day. Immediately after, you’ll find coffee in hand.
I have a weakness for… If you ask my husband, he would say that I have an obsession with plants. He always comes home to new and often weekly additions. We’ve collected so many plants that our home has become a mini jungle of sorts. Another love I have is for feel good foods. You can usually find me at Impact Kitchen with their Harvest power bowl (hold the bacon, please!), or sipping green juices from Belmonte Raw and Greenhouse Juice. To balance things out, I can’t live without salted caramel cupcakes and sukho thai in the weekly rotation.
Most people don't know that I… Most people don’t know that through a decade design experience at Yabu Pushelberg, an international design firm, I was exposed to the use of variations of the classic palm leaf pattern early on in my career. It was first introduced on a Yabu Pushelberg project at The Waikiki EDITIONS which is now known as The Modern. Since then, I’ve gravitated towards this incredible print and have only realized now the deeper meaning it has to me. This is what inspired the ALWAYS x ALWAYS collection.
Currently reading… Right now I’m focusing on staying consistent with my journaling. It’s a combination of (roughly) scheduling the day in 30 minute increments, writing down my three month goals, daily tasks that help to achieve the goals, and most importantly I take a moment each day to reflect and write down my daily gratitude.
I want… I want to inspire others to pursue a life lived vibrantly and full of possibility. I encourage wellness, invite creativity, and promote self love. Be bright, live curiously, ALWAYS x ALWAYS.
Thank you for participating in #WeWantToKnow, Lisa! Wishing you all the best as you launch your new endeavour.
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