Guest Expert: Sisters Gulassa

Sisters Lise and Cyrille are the creative duo behind SistersGulassa, an international design house that produces art, patterns, products, and trend forecasting. Their VividLiving™ lifestyle brand of prints and products is recognized for its vivid color, vibrant energy and bold pattern-mixing.

The company creates custom art and design for the active, accessories, fashion, home, interiors, paper, gift, packaging and textiles industries. They also license art, fabric, accessories, gift and paper products, wallpaper, and lifestyle products. The SistersGulassa client roster includes Clinique, The North Face, Timberland UK, Perry Ellis Men, Converse, Title Nine, Godiva, Gap, Target, Built NY, Orage, Athleta, Gap/Old Navy, and PB Teen.

We are so excited to bring the sisters wealth of experience to the Textile Design Lab guest expert role. On Friday, April 26th, they will be sharing details with our TDL members on their creative process and how their vibrant work gets created! We invite you to learn more about Sisters Gulassa in today’s interview.

Can you tell us about your current projects and the Sisters Gulassa brand?

We currently have several projects on the table that we are very excited and passionate about.

We continue to sell and license our pattern designs for a wide range of products from home decor products to paper goods and fashion, for women’s and children’s clothing, activewear and fabulous shoes by Divadi! We have sold and licensed our designs to a wide variety of clients since we first started Sisters Gulassa, from Clinique and The North Face, to more recently Anthropologie, Carve Designs, Pier 1 Imports and Blue Sky Planner. Follow along on Instagram for product releases and updates. We work with some clients directly, and work with Fashion Vignette and ZoeJo Studio.

Sisters Gulassa on Minted.com

In addition to pattern design both of us are fine art painters, Cyrille has exhibited her art in Hungary and Vienna and we have licensed our fine art internationally. Now we are very excited to be expanding our fine art offering into the US market. We have licensed our fine art in the past with ArtImage, Brazil, and most recently have pursued this avenue with Minted.com. Lise’s art was selected by the editors of Minted.com for the Large Scale Wall Art challenge as well as the Pottery Barn Challenge for Kids Wall Art. “DawnLight” wall art was selected to be part of the new Wall Mural offerings at Minted and was featured as a new wall mural for children in the most recent Minted ad in the Color Issue of Domino Magazine as well as HGTV magazine.

Currently, we are creating and developing a collaborative fine art show for the summer of 2020 called “Exploring Local Language”, which creates a conversation with multiple countries, exploring and contrasting the forms of language, and color and history of a country. Additionally, we have developed two exclusive wallpaper collections for Emily Ziz, Australia. Modern Abstract  & Florale, and have a newer collection on the table and in the works!

We are very excited about our first ever very small product offering, still in the works~ to be announced later this year.

Can you describe your creative process and how the two of you work together? What is it like to communicate and collaborate from a distance?

In the past we did more trade shows together, this would become the focus of our work process, knowing we were working toward presenting our design work at the trade shows (very much like how Pattern Observer Studio is working now). We would present our work at Premiere Vision in Paris, and PrintSource or Surtex in New York. We would create a trend book and color palettes to present at the trade shows with specific themes that we thought were trending and that were a good fit for our design style. Back then there was very little access to trend or color information so this was a great way for us to work together from a distance and a great way for us to present our studio work to perspective clients. Back then Skype was our go to mode of communication. We also were sharing a Dropbox and would put all of our design work once it was ready into our shared dropbox. This was a very exciting way to work, being able to see things from each other as they were uploaded. As we did more trade shows we invited designers to contribute their work to our studio as well so that we had a wide range of styles to present to clients. What is so exciting is that we developed many friendships through this collaborative process that has brought us together from around the world!

We have also had collaborative work for projects for clients that utilized our respective skills in different ways – Cyrille’s background in graphic design and advertising, and Lise’s background in Fashion design. We would help companies who were rebranding their identities by working closely with them to develop a new look or stye or brand image with graphics, patterns and color and compliment that with new line concepts.

More recently we have been dividing our time a little differently: Cyrille has been primarily focusing her energies on developing the brand Identity and design direction for a company called Divadi, vegan shoes for a healthy planet, whereas Lise has been focusing more of her time developing her fine art. We still develop print designs for sale and licensing, and work directly with clients or Fashion Vignette and ZoeJo Studio, Divadi and Minted. More energy now is being directed on licensing and Brand development for clients.

What are each of your favorite design tools and techniques?

Lise: I love working with color in a wide variety paints with different brands and different types of paints, ink, acrylic, watercolors, gauche, etc. I like using mostly water based paints and materials so that I can mix what ever I like together. I like a lot of different types of brushes and mark making tools. I get excited thinking about how the different qualities of the paint are and what I want to mix together. Another important tool is my SLR camera and my iPhone camera. Oddly I would say my favorite technique is experimenting! I have come to see Photoshop and Illustrator as additional tools for how I like to work, there are certain things that each of the programs can do very well, that the other program cannot, I work knowing that they can be used in this way to develop my design work.

Cyrille: Ink brushes, and black ink would be my go-to items for getting in a flow, and finding a rhythm with brush stroke. Color I actually like to leave to chance, and pull out random tubes and see how it works on paper. I like to surprise myself with combinations I wouldn’t normally think to put together. I don’t like to look/study at other artists or current trends because I like to try to pull deep within me what feels “right“ to me but of course I am inspired by others works. I think my main way of working is surprise – what comes up, what flows, what colors randomly come together…this process of feeling like you are kind of co-creating which feels very exciting and also freeing.

What are you finding inspiring right now? What are some of your strategies for when you feel stuck or uninspired?

The art project we are working together on is inspired by our travels, as we both seem to find an endless inspiration of all aspects of traveling – from the language, to how the buildings are painted, the graphics in a city and of products in stores, the folk references, the light, the different color palettes, the culture, the history, and of course how much fun we have together exploring on all levels and layers!

Cyrille: When feeling stuck I like to get out of art and into my head and heart … I like to use thinking as my inspiration … I think of it as bread crumbs…what random things am I curious about? What seems to catch my interest? What concepts make me ponder? And then I do the google-fall-in-the-rabbit-hole thing, and see how these deepen and then somehow I can always translate these concepts back into the art and it makes the art feel that much more deep. Currently I am obsessed with letters, the Cyrillic alphabet, communication, Hebrew, Kabbalah, and somehow at the end, the whole process becomes quite spiritual that everything is connected/interrelated, and art can become a mirror of it all!

Lise: When I am feeling stuck, I Move! I get outside, go on a walk, hike, bike ride or a swim, I like to get into the woods, hike up a hill, take in the view, go to the beach, go on a bike ride, take a yoga class, go to the botanical gardens, go to a museum. I feel this is twofold: movement always helps to clear my head and gives me loads of inspiration. I find lots of inspiration from being in nature, reading, traveling, exploring, going to book stores, being curious about other artists, designers, processes, stories past and present, including the fashion industry. There is so much to be inspired about!

Can you tell us about your upcoming Textile Design Lab training? What can members expect to learn?

We thought it would be fun to literally walk the audience through a 7 step process we do with bigger projects, as we have just begun with a new project and have yet to fulfill all the stages. We mapped out the 7 stages we go through, and will prompt the audience in each stage, with exercises / challenges for them to follow along, but also show them in real time how we are approaching each phase ourselves for our current project. This process would be great for people who don’t know where to start, or know what exactly to do, other than they want to do something creative. It will help give them an outline or foundation or way of approaching a project of how to walk through a whole project from conception to preparation and presenting an idea to market or sell. It’s a simple process that helps you get inspired and into action so in the end you have that excited feeling of wow, I accomplished that! 🙂

You can learn more about Sisters Gulassa on their website. TDL members, please join us on Friday, April 26th!

At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and our private design community, The Textile Design Lab.

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