meet the makers | May 2, 2024 |
This artist turned heartache into a beloved textile brand

This artist turned heartache into a beloved textile brand
Sarah Von DreeleAlysia Kristan Photography

Sarah Von Dreele has learned to embrace the unknown. The Connecticut-based artist and designer believes that when we accept the fact that we don’t always know how things will turn out, we open ourselves up to more possibilities. “There’s no room for self-discovery if we’re always trying to replicate what we already know,” she tells Business of Home.

Art and design played a pivotal role in her childhood. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Von Dreele’s grandfather was a naval architect who exposed her to painting and drawing at an early age, and her mother was an interior designer at a commercial firm. “I spent many school vacations reorganizing my mother’s sample library,” she says.

In college, she studied graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design before embarking on a 20-year career in corporate and consumer branding. However, in 2015, everything changed when her marriage came to an abrupt end, and she was faced with starting a new life for herself and her daughter. “I picked up painting again as an evening ritual,” says Von Dreele. “Two years later, a body of work emerged—suggesting that there might be an application for my artwork beyond my own healing process.”

Gillian wallcovering in Mist and a pillow upholstered in Ingrid in Toodles
Gillian wallcovering in Mist and a pillow upholstered in Ingrid in ToodlesAlysia Kristan Photography

In 2019, she launched her namesake studio at ICFF with a collection of eight wallpaper patterns based on her personal artwork. “The paintings had served their purpose for me and it was time to let the work take on a new identity,” she says. “My life had turned upside down, and even though I was like a deer in headlights, what mattered was that I took a risk.”

Sarah Von Dreele Samuel fabric in Yacht Club
Samuel fabric in Yacht ClubCourtesy of Sarah Von Dreele

All of Von Dreele’s designs begin with a gestural hand-painted gouache work on paper, which is photographed and translated into a repeat for printing. Her textiles are cast on either a midweight cotton–linen blend fabric or sheer linen, and the wallpapers on nonwoven vellum for durability. “I paint without thinking about manufacturing guidelines, so I can really push the boundaries of what is a repeat,” she says. “I am only responding to what is happening in a moment on the page, rather than how a composition might translate to product.”

For her latest collection, Metamorphosis, the designer drew inspiration from the rural landscape that surrounds her Northwestern Connecticut studio. The series spans three botanical fabric patterns offered in multiple colorways, with a coordinating line of grasscloth wallcoverings debuting later this month. “I don’t have any preconceived themes before starting each collection—I just paint, allowing the process to drive the final assemblage,” she says. “What’s most exciting for me is how work evolves on its own if you allow that to happen.”

Looking ahead, Von Dreele says she is open to expanding her product offerings, and hopes to collaborate with like-minded artists and brands in the future. “There are certainly categories that would be interesting to explore, like rugs, for example, but collaborations are what interest me most,” says the designer. “My work is about relationships, experiences and reaching from within, and by embracing the unknown, a more exploratory and iterative space is created.”

If you want to learn more about Sarah Von Dreele, visit her website or Instagram.

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