Banner image: @robertdiversherrick
Earlier this month, Serena Dugan delighted design fans with the launch of her stunning new collection of fabrics, all created using a method with which she's had a long-standing love affair – block printing. From all the way in her beautiful studio in sunny Sausalito, California, Serena told us about how these designs came to be, the inspiration behind each of them, and why the block printing process is so special.
Before this collection, Serena was no stranger to the block printing technique. With around twenty years of textile design under her belt, the artist and textile designer has long loved this distinct printing process and has been working with the same family-run printer in Jaipur, India for over fifteen years. Explaining her appreciation for it, Serena says, "the craft is near and dear to my heart because I am a painter and block printing is the most painterly form of printing that I know of." She continues, "I love the imperfection and the soft, watercolour effect; the wabi-sabi nature of it, no two are exactly alike. The designs are truly artisanal." It only takes one glance at the new collection to see exactly what Serena means.
All five newly launched designs (all of which come in multiple colour ways) champion these characteristics unique to the block printing process. And of course, this is no coincidence. It was the knowledge and appreciation of how block printing works that informed the designs in this collection. Serena explains, "I designed patterns that would capitalise on what is distinct about block print."
The Sumba design began its life as a grasscloth wallpaper. Serena tells us, "it didn't work for screen print because the effect would be too perfect; screen printing couldn't honour the quirks. It occurred to me that this design always wanted to be a block print."
From left to right, top to bottom: Khiva Bisque Block Print, Khiva Turkish Red Block Print, Khiva Malachite Block Print, Khiva Petal Block Print, Khiva Salmon Block Print, Khiva French Blue Block Print
"I designed Khiva because I wanted to see a simplified damask that could almost be turned into more of a piece of art than a tapestry."
Image above: Sofas upholstered in Khiva Malachite Block Print. Image credit @lauriefrankel
From left to right, top to bottom: Olga Papaya Block Print, Olga Hydrangea Block Print, Olga Granite Block Print, Olga Ocean Block Print, Olga Persimmon Block Print, Olga Cherry Block Print, Olga Marigold Block Print, Olga Mulberry Block Print
"Olga is a happy dot. I designed it many moons ago and again, it didn't want to be screen printed. It would be too boring, too flat, too predictable. Block printing would give the print some wonk and that's what it needed."
"Featuring the chrysanthemum flower and vine, this design has a slight Japanese inspiration behind it, as well as many other references. I really loved the shape and the rhythm and I wanted to explore this within the container of the block."
"I love a stripe! Who doesn't love a stripe? But there's nothing that I can say in stripes that hasn't already been said. I wanted to see a stripe that had some vibration through gradation and overlap of the block marks, a stripe that has more hum than a normal stripe."
These prints are on 100% cotton twill. The hand, weight, and durability make this fabric perfect for spots that linen is too precious for, like duvets and shams, as well as drapery, pillows etc. This fabric is machine washable.
Block Printing is an art form. This fabric is block printed by hand in Jaipur, India and bears the stamp of the craftsperson who printed it. No aspect of this process is mechanized, and therefore each section of each print is slightly unique. Variations and imperfections are both expected and celebrated, as they’re the mark of the artisan behind this craft.