Thursday, August 28, 2008

Interview with Harmony Susalla of Harmony Art Organic Design

Interview with Harmony Susalla of Harmony Art Organic Design
by our former intern, Elizabeth!

Have you ever stopped to think that it’s someone’s job to design the fabric in everything from clothes to comforters to couches? For Harmony Susalla, founder of Harmony Art Organic Design , it only truly sank in as she browsed her closet’s contents after her first class at the California School of Professional Fabric Design []. “It felt like coming home,” she says. Eleven years later, Harmony now runs her own organic fabric design business. Sustainable textiles production is a fast-growing field, and Harmony is at the forefront with her gorgeous graphics. Last November, she was kind enough to answer some our questions about what life is like in the organic fabric design world. Read below for our interview with her.

New Moon: I loved reading the history of your company on your website. What was it like to first discover your passion for fabric design?

Harmony Susalla: It felt like coming home. I had just been going through life doing what came to me, and when I discovered textile design, it was just like, “Oh yeah, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” There was that knowledge and confidence that I had found what I was meant to do. What’s amazing about it is how everything has unfolded along the way, reinforcing that. I have in my [online] history that I graduated on a Wednesday, and on a Thursday I got a call. And without them knowing that I had [just graduated]. It’s been like that. It’s been like magic.

Where do your greatest inspirations for designs come from?

Nature. Almost exclusively. [In other design jobs] we’d end up being told to go trend shopping and see what’s out there on the market, and I always found that not my favorite part of the job. I don’t really like to shop. I’m kind of the anti-shopper. And I always felt like I should be enjoying it—I mean, how many women would love to be paid to go shopping? I always [disliked] those days. But now I go hiking instead, and I love it absolutely. Like I just did a design last night, or I’m working on one right now, that’s based on a houseplant I have. I definitely find an unlimited source of inspiration [in nature]. It’s so grounding to be outside and realize there’s more to life than the computer screen and the telephone. Look there’s the ocean and the tree that’s been around for, you know 800 years.

Where do you see the sustainable fabric movement going?

It’s exploding, it really is. There are a lot of times when I laugh, because I am in the right place at the right time. Six years ago would have been too early. Six years from now would be getting in late. I’m really at the forefront, and obviously it’s not just me. There are a lot of pioneers who have been at it the last twenty years and sticking with it, and it’s finally beginning to catch on. And there’s some fear, people get concerned that it’s going to get watered down or that it will be somehow corrupted by the masses, but I personally think it’s going to take the masses to change it. I’m less hesitant. I think it’s a good thing that the Wal-Marts and the Williams-Sonomas and the Gaps and the Levis and all of them are hopping on board…

Do you have any advice for girls?

I want to say something about enjoying life and that all the silly stuff that gets in the way is going to disappear. I remember that part of the teen years, too, you know, friends, drama, and it all seemed so important at the time, and in the long run it was so unimportant. So I guess sticking with the people that you have fun with and that fun is based on a place of genuineness. You know, it’s easy to get into judgment and that’s not fun, so I would avoid that like the plague. Just stick to fun and things that bring you joy. Genuine joy.

Part of the exciting thing in life is watching the different puzzle pieces, and you wonder, “Why did I do that?” and “How did I end up doing that?” and suddenly you get a vision of each individual puzzle piece together, and that’s really exciting. So your moment will come.

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