Serena Dugan: The Beauty of Block Printing

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. 

 Image above: Serena Dugan's studio in Sausalito, California. 


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.


 Images above: Khiva and Nara designs block printed in Jaipur, India by a family-run block printing business that Serena has worked with for over fifteen years.

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." 


From left to right, top to bottom: Sumba Copper Block PrintSumba Gull Block PrintSumba Ink Block PrintSumba Hydrangea Block PrintSumba Mulberry 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." 

Image above: Sofa upholstered in Nara Blush Block Print and cushions in Sumba Ink Block Print. Image credit @lauriefrankel


From left to right, top to bottom: Khiva Bisque Block PrintKhiva Turkish Red Block PrintKhiva Malachite Block PrintKhiva Petal Block PrintKhiva Salmon Block PrintKhiva 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 PrintImage credit @lauriefrankel


From left to right, top to bottom: Olga Papaya Block PrintOlga Hydrangea Block PrintOlga Granite Block PrintOlga Ocean Block PrintOlga Persimmon Block PrintOlga Cherry Block PrintOlga Marigold Block PrintOlga 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."

Image above: Chair cushions upholstered in Sumba Hydrangea Block Print and cushions in Olga Block Print. Image credit: @robertdiversherrick


From left to right, top to bottom: Nara Blush Block PrintNara Hydrangea Block PrintNara Platinum Block PrintNara Melon Block Print

"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."


Image above: Sofa upholstered in Nara Blush Block Print and cushions in Sumba Ink Block Print and Olga Granite Block Print . Image credit @lauriefrankel


From left to right, top to bottom: Tigre Copper/Sky Block PrintTigre Ink/Petal Block PrintTigre Moss/Hydrangea Block Print

"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.