Lili Tanner

Lili Tanner (Artist of Handmade Jewelry and Leatherworks)

I arrive in the middle of nowhere and when I get off the car and follow a row of lined up wooden chairs, I fall in love with the simple but charming structure of this old ranch house that overlooks an impressive piece of landscape with a massive mountain range in the back. The covered patio is decorated with fairy lights and vintage furniture and the sublime desert sunlight on this late afternoon brings a magical glow to the venue. The owner of this desert oasis is Lili Tanner, a former writer who has made her passion, to create beautiful things by hand, her profession.

Lili is a remarkable character who seems to have everything figured out. She is someone I would voluntarily hand over the scepter in times of an extraterrestrial attack because yes, she can. Like her homeland, Switzerland, she conveys trust, security and stability and the things she makes stand for values that will never go out of fashion. Growing up in Switzerland, Lili learned basic handcrafts at school and after a lot of years of providing creative ideas for other people, she returned to simple and yet refined activities like sewing and working with metals to create beautiful things for herself. Due to her sophisticated taste in terms of design and materials, people quickly noticed her art and wanted to buy her creations so that she turned her hobby into a business. Within five years she has managed to build up a successful brand, Lili T. California, which has grown considerably and is now represented in quite a few stores all over the country. Yet, it all started with a simple leather clutch and a necklace.

When Lili first came to the States, in 1996, she settled down in L.A., actually in Venice, where she purchased the first house she had looked at with a realtor. Although back then, Venice was not the place you wanted to be, Lili had a good nose for timing and business. Nowadays the tide has turned and we all would like to own a house in one of the most popular areas of L.A. A couple of years later Lili visited the High Desert and immediately felt its magical quality. When she saw a sign saying ‘5 acres of land with a 1950s-style ranch house for sale’ she struck again. Two weeks later she bought the property in Twentynine Palms within one hour without having looked at any other places. For sure no regrets on her side. She did go back and forth to L.A. for a couple of years but always spent more time in the desert because it just felt right. Now she rents out her house in Venice and lives and works in her lovely abode in Twentynine Palms.

Lili has always known that she belonged to the States. There was no defined dream when she decided to stay but the wish to decelerate. She came off a massive advertising job – she was the creative director for the introductive Smart Car Campaign in Europe – and she had the desire to do her own stuff. She wanted to be in charge of her life and not be directed by external factors anymore. She says that the desert gives you the chance to do as you like. You can live your own schedule, starting with small things, like finding out when you actually do sleep best? When are you hungry? What is the best time for you to work? You cannot be intertwined by city schedules because although L.A. is only a two-hour-drive away, in the desert life does proceed at a different pace.

Lili has found the perfect place to open her mind in all directions and let her be and work. A simple requirement that so many other people are still denied. I am happy that she can do what she loves because it would be a pity to miss her stylish bags and special jewelry. All of her pieces are designed and mostly handmade by Lili but due to good business, she cannot make every piece herself anymore. Hence, some leather pieces are handmade in Downtown L.A. Lucky me could shop on site – all others feel free to order Lili’s unique pieces online.

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The other portraits will be featured within the next weeks. Stay tuned!

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