One look at Ellen Van Dusen’s designs and it’s clear that she is the sort of person who forges her own path. Raised by architects and interested in fashion from a young age, it would have seemed sensible for her to take the traditional design school route towards a career in garment design. Instead, college found Ellen studying the intersection of Neuroscience and Art History. "I studied the visual process from a number of different disciplines to see how they related to each other," she says. For her thesis, she examined color field paintings and analyzed how, neurologically speaking, they are successful works of art.
This is certainly not the typical path to a career in fashion design, but it somehow feels essential to Ellen’s trajectory. In 2010, at the age of 23, she started her own clothing line, Dusen Dusen. Her work has come to be known for its jarring patterns and bright colors, from-scratch assemblages that seem to leave an imprint on the retina long after they are seen. Cerebral in that they explore color theory and optics, her designs are also imbued with an undeniable sense of fun. There is an almost child-like quality to many of her patterns, whether they invoke simple geometry, 90s nostalgia, or, as is the case with some of her latest home textiles, the ABCs.
This playful sensibility extends down to her work space, a shared studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Plastered with prints, miniature paintings, bright knickknacks, pattern samples, and long-forgotten Christmas decorations, the space seems to be an exercise in clash-matching. Nothing seems like it would "go together," but just like Ellen’s own designs, it all falls into place beautifully. Check out all of the photos from our studio visit below + shop Dusen Dusen on westelm.com.
Born in Washington, DC, Ellen Van Dusen was raised by architect parents in a vibrant, creative home. Through a self-directed major at Tufts University, she studied the psychology of design and the brain’s reaction to visual stimuli. Made in the US, her line is driven by the prints she creates from scratch. Shop Dusen Dusen on westelm.com.
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