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Textile Artist Ellen Van Dusen Knows Prints and Patterns

Incorporating a mix of complementary prints and patterns is a surefire way to create a cozy home that feels full of character. If you're intimidated by the thought of creating your own combinations, read on for some pro tips on pattern mixing.

Since launching Dusen Dusen Home in 2015, Ellen Van Dusen has gained a huge following for her vibrant, poppy textiles—and her line of bedding, towels, pillows, and blankets is now carried in stores such as Anthropologie and West Elm. Here, the deft textile designer, pattern mixer, and bedding supplier to celebs such as Jessica Williams and SNL star Aidy Bryant shares some of her tips and techniques for incorporating patterns in your home like a pro.

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Your patterns—and your pattern-mixing—are next-level. What's your advice for someone who's just starting out with pattern mixing? Any tips for integrating new patterns with what you already have?

I think the two most important things to consider in pattern mixing are scale and color. I like to have one color as an anchor between prints (say a black in every print) to keep things cohesive. Scale wise, I think you either need to go extremely different or the same, not in between. So putting a large-scale print with a small-scale print, or putting two prints together that are roughly the same size.

Are there any decorating "rules" you think should be broken?

I believe in a healthy mix of high- and low-end design. It's nice to have objects that are labored over and that feel special and high end, but I also think it's important to embrace the low end of the spectrum, and to find something special in the ordinary or more mass market. I think the mix makes for a more unique and personal space.

In my home, I have pieces made by friends and people I admire (a Cold Picnic rug, an Iacoli & McAllister side table, BZippy ceramic vases, Eric Trine coffee tables), but I also have things I've gotten at Walgreens or thrift stores to round out my collection of stuff (like a Picasso print-on-demand line drawing of a butt in my bathroom we found at a thrift store, a Garfield sculpture, and yellow plastic cups from Walgreens).

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You've said you're inspired by fine art and commercial and naive design. Where have you been finding inspiration lately?

Recently, I've been reading a lot about optical illusions. In college I studied the visual system and how it relates to art and design, and I've been coming back to a lot of those ideas.

Is it possible to sum up what you've learned about how the brain responds to movement, color, and contrast?

From an evolutionary perspective, we are drawn to certain colors and combinations of colors to alert us to danger (patterns that entice a feeling of movement) or food (think a red apple among greenery). That's the short version!

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What do you see coming down the road in terms of color and pattern trends?

Right now I am drawn to lime greens and yellows, paired with "putty" versions of more saturated colors. We've been in a minimalist moment recently, and I think the tide is about to change toward brighter colors and pattern. At least I hope it is!

Thanks, Ellen!

See more of Ellen's textiles and clothing designs at dusendusen.com.

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