About Habitusliving


Habitus is a movement for living in design. We’re an intelligent community of original thinkers in constant search of native uniqueness in our region.


From our base in Australia, we strive to capture the best edit, curating the stories behind the stories for authentic and expressive living.


Habitusliving.com explores the best residential architecture and design in Australia and Asia Pacific.


Learn more

The intricately embroidered landscape art of Kiaya Lee

The intricately embroidered landscape art of Kiaya Lee

Kiaya Lee is a textile artist who translates her travel photography into beautifully threaded reflections – we dive into her process and the “ceremonial” feeling it evokes.

Tell us about yourself, your background and what led you to where you are now.

I was always creating growing up in Wagga Wagga, but my love for textiles started in my final year of high school when I took on a design elective. I’d get to school super early and stay late so I could keep making and experimenting with material.

After school – I moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) at RMIT. The degree helped me understand how to build upon what inspired me through illustration and thread. Ever since, I’ve been making anything and everything I can with my hands, always trying to upskill myself creatively. Since university, I’ve continued to experiment with embroidery and have been doing small commissions for designers and people who find me on Instagram. 

Kiaya Lee

Tell us about your work – what is the driving philosophy behind what you do?

My practice is a meditative one. I craft by hand and embroider natural landscapes that I’ve encountered in my travels and captured on film. The process is as much about my personal rejuvenation as it is about what I create – it helps me escape the city and channel my energy into something that feels pure and almost ceremonial.

On the off chance that I’ve decided to commission a clients’ photograph instead of my own, I do love when they tell me their story about that photo and why it means something to them. The fact I get to recreate a person’s ‘happy place’ through my art, to hang in their space, brings me such joy.

Can you share some insight into your creative process – when are you most in the zone?

The process starts with my 35mm camera. Which I’ll often use to capture my travels, and then when I have the film developed, I decide if I want to take the image further to embroidery. I colour-match my threads to the photo and use canvas as the base.

It doesn’t take me long to get in the zone with embroidery, as my pieces are usually small, enough to move around, I love that I can sit anywhere in my house or the backyard, and it never takes up too much space or effort to set up or pack down. The hours fly by, I don’t need to think, I just do.

How does design play a role in your life?

Through design, I’ve been able to understand the world a little better and define my own values on things like sustainability, craft, and intention.

When I’m not creating, I’m going to local galleries to find inspiration, or searching online about local makers, visiting little boutiques and vintage shops on High Street. During the week, I work at the design studio, SJB, so I’m always surrounded by like-minded people who value good design, so I’d say it plays a major role in my life.

Kiaya Lee

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

With my personal practice, I go easy on myself and don’t try to force a new idea – I let it come naturally. When I get a commission, I’m strict with myself and the client on when the work needs to be completed. I allow myself to make sure it doesn’t feel like a second job though, I try not to put too much pressure on myself if I’m not feeling it for a night. Once something feels like a task, mistakes happen because your heart isn’t in it, and unpicking thread isn’t easy.

What does home mean to you?

Home has constantly changed over the last 10 years to be a lot more focussed on community, as I’ve found chosen families in share houses. I love the cooperation with housemates over shared spaces and communal dinners. I’m lucky to have lived with great people who support my art making, and I, theirs.

How does your home reflect your passions, interests, and creativity?

Right now, my home has a lot of art in it and pieces that I’ve collected over the years. I feel content in a space I can call my own, it helps me reflect on what inspires me which is the driving force of creativity. 

What’s your favourite room/object/thing in your house?

My Hilary Green vase that I purchased over lockdown a few years ago. I’ve never had the patience to make ceramics, but I love them, Hilary’s work is so unique and reminds me of the ocean. 

What piece of furniture is currently on your Wishlist?

I’d love to one day own a Charles Mackintosh dining table manufactured by Cassina. I love the arts and craft influences he had in his furniture design while still retaining a formal-ness in his objects. It’s functional and practical but has moments of whimsy.

Favourite chair/light design, and why?

Melbourne local, Christopher Boots and his quartz crystal chandeliers. His influences of history, spirituality and nature balanced against these seemingly rigid and engineered hanging installations are always breathtaking. He’s a designer I look up to because he is so clearly being authentic in his work, and it transcends into so many different spaces.

Kiaya Lee

Kiaya Lee


Aleesha Callahan is the editor of Habitus. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Aleesha seeks out the unique people, projects and products that define the Indo Pacific region. Aleesha was previously the editor of Indesignlive.com and has written and contributed to various publications and brands in her 10 years in the architecture and design industry, bringing intimate insight to her stories having first trained and practised as an interior designer. Her passion for mid-century design and architecture began while living and working in Berlin.