By Aisha Hassan on November 4th, 2020
Another lease on life
TALEE Studio was built on new beginnings. The boutique brand’s striking tassel earrings, which are hand-knotted from organic materials, are tied to someone coming back to life. In 2010, the founder Lorraine Lee’s father collapsed and his heart stopped for six minutes on the way to the hospital — the brain damage led to short-term memory loss, but he lived.
Lorraine ties nautical knots with her father because it’s a form of cognitive therapy. “It also helps him find joy again,” she says. After a particularly inspiring knot-tying session in 2017, around which time Lorraine also lost her job in Canada, she began creating earrings. Today, TALEE Studio earrings are eye-catching pieces that stand out aesthetically, but it’s the story of resilience behind the brand that sets it apart.
Color is the language
“TALEE” is a play on the Malay word for rope, “tali,” and Lorraine’s last name. Notably, she doesn’t sketch TALEE Studio designs but ties the earrings free-form by hand. “If I sense the beauty in it, then it’s a knot now,” Lorraine says. “All the knots are made-to-discover.”
Lorraine’s architectural background also affects her artisanship. “When I was designing houses, I’d think of the family and how they dwell in a space. When I make earrings it’s the same rule: More than how I feel, I think about how they [the wearer] would feel,” she says. Lorraine even chooses color palettes to be inclusive and suit various skin tones.
Color is also crucial for storytelling. In the Hosanna Series, in earrings like the Madu Knot and Rama Loop, “color is a form of language and the only way to speak out what the collection means,” Lorraine says. The Hosanna Series focuses on colors that speak to origin — “earth and sky and ocean”. Rebirth and hope are never far from Lorraine’s mind.
Memory is all we have
Connecting people together is at the core of TALEE Studio, Lorraine says. She is grateful that the story behind her brand has resonated with others. And while the bold earrings themselves are worth remembering, Lorraine also hopes they will also accompany wearers during unforgettable moments.
“Memories are not something you plan to make happen… but at the end of the day that’s all that remains,” Lorraine says. “I know how fragile memory is… so I will always want to create good moments and hopefully that turns into something beautiful,” she continues. “Something good to keep.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aisha Hassan is a writer, journalist, and co-founder of Dia. Previously, Aisha worked for Quartz in New York and Harper’s Bazaar in Malaysia. Her fiction has been published in international literary magazines. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.