A Chat with the Artist Barbarian Flower

For BONIA’s first-ever collection of scarves, we reached out to local Malaysian artist Szeyan (Barbarian Flower) to create a unique, hand-painted illustration for the collection’s centrepiece, Floreale. The result is an intricately detailed scarf depicting a lush rainforest. Szeyan’s style calls upon the vintage aesthetic of another era – nostalgic, richly textured and teeming with colour.

To celebrate the scarf’s release, we discussed inspirations and recommendations with the artist herself.

What was your inspiration when designing for the BONIA scarves collection?

It was inspired by a common subject for me – wildflowers. They have a particularly vintage feeling and an edginess that I love.

What is the ideal environment for you to create?

Basically, there must be no disturbance. I’ll put on some relaxing music, and make sure there is a pleasant mood. Usually, inspiration comes after breakfast, on a full stomach, and occasionally in the evening. For some reason, my mind is not as flexible in the afternoon.

There are infinite ways to style a scarf – how would you wear yours?

I've never worn one myself, but I've always been drawn to beautiful scarves. It's the first thing I think of to decorate my home or lay on a table. Maybe wrap something as a gift too.

Once the world opens up again, where is the first place you would want to travel?

Due to the pandemic, I have been stuck abroad. What I want most now is to return home to Malaysia and reunite with the people I love. As for travelling, I want to go to any country where I can enjoy the mountains and the sea, or a big grassy field. We all need the fresh air and relaxation so much. The pandemic has kept us inside for too long.

Recommend a song, a book, a film and a dish to cook for lockdown.

Song: Telephone by CASTLEBEAT.
Book: “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. A must-read for those who lack confidence.
Film: Soul. The characters are just too cute! At the same, the story inspired me to contemplate identity and life.
Dish: Fried chicken cutlets! They’re simple and yummy.

View the full collection of BONIA scarves here.