Home > Living > People > Cover Story: Bay Doucet and Sharina Shahrin share coffee, self-expressions and sustainable ways of being creative
Cover Story: Bay Doucet and Sharina Shahrin share coffee, self-expressions and sustainable ways of being creative

In Lifestyle Asia Asia’s second digital cover with Nespresso, we explore the beauty of nature and its ever-giving ethos with free-spirited creative Bay Doucet and visual artist Sharina Shahrin.

Purrrr… purrr…

A soft purring sound pops into a comforting aroma of coffee that permeates throughout the studio. It’s therapeutic — dark and roasty with lingering cereal notes — and one deep breath in exhales out five seconds of great relief. Like most coffee lovers, content creator Bay Doucet is one of those who must start the day with a cup of coffee.

“I’d love a sip but I don’t wanna ruin my makeup,” humours Bay, one of the two cover personalities on the set of our shoot, as a serving of lungo is extracted from the Nespresso Forest Black capsule.

The table is set, a mise en scène made of moss, flowers, fruits and mushrooms. Coffee capsules from Nespresso’s Forest Variations range, patterned with intricate leitmotifs designed by Johanna Ortiz in individual shades of green, red and brown, peppered the set up alongside the limited edition TOUCH Golden Travel Mug.

Inspired by the beauty of the forest, the cover shoot takes on a common theme where sustainability meets creativity. As young creatives today embrace a new approach is making art, a sense of mindfulness and awareness towards nature has become the shared narrative. Echoing this sentiment, free-spirit creative Bay Doucet and visual artist Sharina Shahrin come together to have their voices heard as they star in Lifestyle Asia KL’s second digital cover powered by Nespresso.

Nespresso Festive Collection
Nespresso’s Gifts of the Forest

Sustainability and Creativity

Nespresso’s ‘Gifts of the Forest’ encompasses the brand’s devotion to the precious environment coffee is grown in. Alongside the unique collaboration with Colombian fashion designer Johanna Ortiz, it cements Nespresso’s visionary goals to make sustainability approachable, creative, and universal.

The coffee brand goes beyond its agroforestry commitments by supporting the protection of 10 million trees in the Amazon — which is significantly in line with the notions shared by Ortiz herself. When two minds become one, it turns into a shared commitment and sends a strong message to the world, one coffee pod at a time.

Bay shares the same notion, saying: “I think it’s really great for big brands and businesses to give a platform for artists to celebrate art. Growing up, we were always told that art wasn’t a serious career. And to have brands like Nespresso partner with artists, It’s extremely inspiring especially for those who can only dream or aspire to collaborate with global brands like Nespresso.”

“I love it when brands incorporate and associate themselves with the arts, artists and creatives. It adds another dimension to what they already do, and will engage with the audience from other spectrums to appreciate art even in the everyday things,” injects Sharina, who is also the founder of Everyday Studios.

Nature is a gift that keeps on giving. And with issues of climate change, we try to be more sustainable in the way we live. More importantly, you don’t need to be an artist to be creative.

“Being creative is about finding ways — little ways in life where you can make those small steps in being more sustainable, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or have really big changes. It can be as simple as bringing your own mug,” shares Bay. “I think creating with sustainability in mind is finding ways to reuse what we already have. At the end of the day, being creative is also problem solving.”

Bay Doucet dressed in Dior with jewels from Chopard.

No Rules to being Creative

Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Bay is trained a graphic designer but currently working as a model and content creator in between her creative jobs. Born to an American father and Malaysian Chinese mother, the 23-year-old considers herself a free-spirited creative — one who is not defined by a special label but takes the day one moment at a time.

“What inspires me the most is taking a walk and really looking at the things around me — not just having a glance — but really stopping to look in close-up at the surroundings. I also love hearing people’s stories. I think we forget how connected our life experiences are and being able to have a conversation with another person is really inspiring to me,” admits Bay. 

Inspiration comes in many forms and nature is one of the main source of inspiration — a cornucopia of inspos that continues to amaze in surprising ways. “I think the interesting thing about nature, especially for creatives to take inspiration from, is that everything is so different,” she continues.

“You can look at a flower on a different day at a different time, and it looks different. And you can look at a flower from the same species, and it will look different from each other. And I think there’s something very beautiful about that,” enthuses Bay. “We don’t expect nature to look a certain way for us to appreciate it. We appreciate it as it is.”

Bay emphasises that there is no right or wrong way to be creative or to create art. Instead, focus on creating something that is true to yourself and works that you’re proud of. The beauty of creativity is in problem-solving and looking at the things that are usually overlooked.

“When I slow down to really observe and appreciate, I always notice things that I’ve never noticed before, and I think that’s very special,” she adds.

Sharina Shahrin in Dior, with jewellery pieces from Chopard.

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

“I think nature has inspired artists since the beginning of time until now. And people either go into nature to get inspired, or take inspiration from what nature gives. I personally like how calm I feel and I don’t even have to be in nature — just the thought of it works,” confides 28-year-old Sharina.

Having lived in more than ten different countries growing up, Sharina has a breadth of experience that explains her ability to converse in a multitude of topics despite being a very shy person. Even though a lot of her work requires her to be social, it’s against her natural inclination. When she’s working on her masterpieces, it requires her to be vey self-reflective and isolated. Naturally, it translates into her liking to be alone. An advocate for art and art education, Sharina aspires to make art accessible for everyone. In her pursuit to drive her artistic ideals and creating an awareness for the arts, she believes the way to be sustainable in the craft is through understanding and learning from a young age. For the visual artist, her artistic codes and artworks are heavily inspired by very natural fluid notions. “It’s what I feel and how I feel. I like to take the organic elements and apply them into my art. And that, I believe, is something I take from nature,” she continues.

“I think the fact that I am vegan, it’s how I appreciate nature and what the Earth has given. I try to recycle, reuse, and keep a zero-waste lifestyle as much as I can. And even with my art, I never throw anything away. I would repurpose my artwork, create something or repaint over it, because I feel nothing should go to waste,” adds the affable artist.

In the end of the day, like nature, art is a language that doesn’t have to be verbal. Nature gives and never ask for something back in return — that’s where we take nature for granted.

“Nature is something you pass by and you take an Instagram photo and you move on,” quips Bay. “But I think we forget that it provides us with so much.”

“I’m currently taking a mycology course, which is a study of fungi and mushrooms. I’m really interested in biology, and I think learning about nature allows me to appreciate it even more,” she stresses on the importance of education to foster awareness on sustainability before continuing: “The more you know something, the more you’d love it, right?”

A Coffee Chemistry

Coffee is more than just a drink to fuel up the day. For both Bay and Sharina, coffee has a strong sentimental value that is closely knitted to family. It is a shared language that translates to love, family values and sometimes indescribable bonds.

“I start every single day with coffee, and I get this from my mom. Me and my mom have a routine; we have two camping chairs and even though w have a lot of chairs in our house, we would put the camping chairs in the middle of the kitchen floor; we will sit in our camping chairs and have out coffee every morning. It is one of my favourite rituals that I have with my mom,” chronicles Bay. “So, drinking coffee it’s a special thing that we share. It’s how we bond.”

Sharina shares the same sentiment, and coffee culture is big in her household.  “Everyone’s a big coffee drinker at home. It has always been about my dad’s love for coffee and he actually introduced me to Nespresso,” she exclaims.

“I think he picked up the love for coffee when we lived in South Africa… in Cape Town specifically. And ever since then, he’s become such a passionate person when it comes to coffee. I see it become a part of his ritual when he starts the day, to unwind and connect with my mom. He’ll make her a cup of coffee and I think it’s a very beautiful activity that he does. It just shows that it’s his time to slow down,” shares Sharina.

It is an act of love that is shared around the ritual of coffee — and truly is priceless.

“My dad is very particular with his coffee. My mom doesn’t ask much from my dad, but when she asks him for his coffee, he’s like “yeah!”. He’s proud that she wants his coffee (laughs). I think I see it as a shared love language,” she adds.

It Starts with Mindfulness

Being mindful about the things around us starts with a sense of balance. Practising self-love is one way to see the beauty in others and the things that surrounds our everyday life. Just like starting the day right with a cup of coffee, or appreciating your loved ones with the gift of coffee, it starts with you being at peace with yourself.

“It’s important to practise self-love because we cannot pour from an empty cup,” Bay exclaims. The young artist cites it’s hard to care for others when you don’t care for yourself. “I like to spend time on my own where my phone is far away from me and nobody’s trying to reach me. I’m able to sit down with a cup of coffee, be present in the moment and no thinking about the things I have to do next — just be there and be present.”

She believes that giving yourself a day off is a great way to find back your rhythm. “We all work really hard right now, and there’s definitely a ‘hustle’ culture that is going on. We all should be giving ourselves days off, and patting ourselves in the back for little successes, and learning how to be proud of ourselves,” continues Bay.

“People think that self-love is very superficial — like, you love yourself. But I think takes a lot of effort and courage to genuinely love yourself. Focus on the process of feeling comfortable with who you are, and being confident for you who are,” opines Sharina.

As someone who likes to put energy to the process of being confident and comfortable with who she is, Sharina stresses that it starts by liking your own company first. “I think you can’t do anything unless you are certain and secure with yourself.”

No one has all the answers to how nature works and know-hows on fixing that’s broken. As part of the ecosystem, we play a very small part in creating a better place — no matter if you’re an artist, a creative, a farmer, or a coffee lover.

“I think it goes back to the question about how we give back to nature and why it’s important. And none of this would exist if we weren’t trying tot fix what we have previously harmed. Without the trees and the Amazon, as well as a thriving ecosystem, coffee wouldn’t grow. When we realise that all the things we love in life, in a way or another, ties together in one ecosystem because of nature or how it works, we have an even stronger reason to take care of it,” concludes Bay.

CREDITS
Concept & Creative Direction MARTIN TEO | Photography MICKY WONG NEW STORYBOARDS PHOTOGRAPHY | Make-up KF BONG | Hair CODY CHUA | Set Design TZE CHIN STARDUST TRINKET | Outfits DIOR | Jewellery CHOPARD

Martin Teo
Editor
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.
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