I met Kiwani just over a few weeks ago now where we spoke about everything across design, inclusion and good food – obviously we had a lot to talk about! Kiwani is the Head of Product & Design at limber which is a platform which helps empower gig workers to work flexibly. Originally from Italy she came to the UK – starting her journey in London before coming to Bristol where she’s here to stay, hopefully! Already she’s fallen in love with our city and has created some beautiful illustrations which represent everything Bristol stands for – you’ll see them below.
With everything that Kiwani and I spoke about we both felt obliged to share it with the universe, so here it is!
So, you’re originally from Italy – amazing! How have you found being in the UK?
I’ve always loved the UK and I really enjoy the life here, especially in Bristol. Working in the tech sector, I can’t appreciate enough the amount of brilliant startups and companies that innovate and disrupt the market. From a creative point of view, I’ve found the UK, and Bristol, to be a fantastic place that allows people to express their talents and offers many opportunities. Plus, it’s so beautiful!
When did you first realise you were the creative sort?
This happened very early on – I was a curious, perceptive child who loved exploring and creating. I’d draw for hours, write and illustrate mini short stories, experiment with paint, watercolour, clay, natural elements. I couldn’t imagine a world without creating and it’s always been a part of me.
When we met, you mentioned you love working on projects which give back to the community – what’s been your favourite project to date?
All the projects I’ve worked on have something special and I remember them fondly for different reasons. I loved being involved with Good For Nothing Bristol, where I collaborated with other creatives and makers on a project to help Chandos House (the only residential rehabilitation centre in Bristol) with a fundraiser. The most rewarding part of the project was to attend the fundraiser and meet the people we were helping, knowing that my contribution had made a difference in their lives.
Do you feel that the design community is pretty equal in regard to male-female-nonbinary groups?
I’ve worked with many talented and diverse designers of all genders. Especially when working in London, I had the pleasure of collaborating with some wildly talented women and non-binary folks – it looks like in the UK the design community is quite diverse and I find it brilliant. I’d love if there was more inclusivity and openness from companies regarding non-binary folks, as I’ve seen it can sometimes be challenging for people to use pronouns they are not familiar with and respecting all identities.
“Designer by day, Illustrator by night” is the first thing we read on your LinkedIn. It’s great you’ve got such an interesting hobby which you’re clearly good at – can you tell us a bit more about your illustrations?
My illustration work has been defined as quirky, conceptual and delightful. I always search for meaning and love telling visual stories with the use of textures, watercolours, contrasts and words – illustration is not just a hobby for me, but something that gives me meaning. You might have seen my work on the £B20 Bristol Pound’s banknotes or at my exhibition at Harts Bakery, where my Weird Wonderful Words project was on display.
What kind of things would you like to see more of in design teams?
I’d like to see more diversity, not only in term of genders, and more openness and trust between team members and organisations. Also, more fun and playing! I love how doing fun activities together creates stronger bonds.
70% of women and just over 50% of men have had imposter syndrome. Have you ever been a victim of this?
Absolutely – especially at the start of my career and when I made some bold choices, such as moving from Italy to London. It’s very important to talk about this in order to know that we’re not alone when we experience imposter syndrome. What has helped me overcome it has been reframing my thoughts in a positive light, talking to my peers about it, and letting go of the idea of perfection.
Do you have a mantra or practice which you incorporate into your routine which you live by?
I love questions like these! I don’t have a specific mantra or practice, but I try to approach every situation with curiosity and an open mind – this is applicable in my design work as well as my illustrations and every other area of my life.
What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
Everything considered, basic necessities aside, it would be music and art. I could certainly live without it, but it would feel like a much less joyful life. If you’re looking for a more “materialistic” answer, I’ll say the Internet – we have so many connections and opportunities thanks to it!
Who’s your role model?
My mother. She’s raised me nurturing my creativity and giving me the ability to dream big. She’s given me nothing but support and I’ve always admired her strength and resilience in everything she’s done in her life.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Kiwani – we’ve loved getting to know you!
An interview by Charlotte Baker.
A voice for diversity in tech <3