Pop-In Q&A: Dusen Dusen

Our latest Pop-In shop, guest-curated by L.A. boutique/gallery Poketo, contains only sparse smatterings of apparel amidst a bevy of home goods and curious objects. If any clothing line could sit logically alongside the rainbow robots and functional octahedrons that shape Poketo’s aesthetic, though, it would have to be the innately wearable mash-up of midcentury modern and the Internet age known as Dusen Dusen.

Keep reading for a Q&A with Brooklyn-based designer Ellen Van Dusen, accompanied by a Dusen Dusen lookbook that was shot exclusively for The Thread.


You design the prints for your clothing yourself. What is that process like?
“I start thinking about prints about a year in advance. I like to look at a lot of art and take a lot of pictures. When I’m ready to start putting things down on paper, I go through my photos and see if there are any common threads—things I may have been drawn to without realizing it. It can be something as straightforward as color or something as minor as quality of line. I like to use that as a starting point, then either draw, make paper cutouts or go straight to the computer to make a repeat pattern. This part of the process is the most creative and rewarding.”

How has technology influenced your aesthetic taste?
“Everything is so accessible! I obsessively use Google Images, and I can’t imagine designing a collection without it. I will look up an artist, an object I’m interested in or a material and then scroll through for what can seem like hours. At the top of the Google Images page, it lists related image search terms, which can put me into a deep, deep click-hole. I’ve learned about a lot of different stuff this way.”

Where’s the last place you visited that had an impact on you?
“I just went to L.A. for the first time with my best friend. I really loved it! The highlight of my trip, though, was going to Salvation Mountain. You have to drive a couple of hours through the desert to get there, and as you approach it, it looks totally unreal. It’s the sole hill in this vast, flat desert, and it’s painted with thousands of gallons of bright paint. You can climb up it, and the path is these loose blue-and-white stripes. It’s very Seuss-y. It’s an abstract pattern with stripes, flowers, color blocks, Bible quotes…the guy who made it used to live there, and he built himself shelter next to the mountain, in what looks like Carcosa from True Detective, but very, very colorful.”

What are your plans for the remaining summer months?
“The end of the summer is my busiest time, very unfortunately! I plan on working a lot, taking a couple of day trips to the beach and eating a lot of watermelon. I usually wait until October to take a summer trip, and this year, I’m planning on spending a couple of weeks in Savannah, Georgia. It’s still summer there in October!”

What’s your favorite architectural structure?
“I grew up in D.C., and the Washington Monument has a special resonance to me. I love its simplicity and size. It’s the tallest obelisk in the world! In D.C., there’s a building regulation where nothing can be taller than the Washington Monument, so you can see it from all over the city. When I see it from the highway, I always know that I’m close to home. On each face of the top, it has two red lights, which look like beady little eyes at night. Sounds creepy, but I find it comforting.”

Are there any forms of ephemera that you’ve been drawn to recently?
“I’ve been really into sports aesthetics recently. I’ve been collecting basketballs and basketball stuff—I have a small white ceramic basketball, a Jonas Wood basketball poster and a bunch of small things like stickers and keychains. There’s a new indoor basketball court by my apartment, and I saw it the night before all the lines were going to be painted on the court. It was all blocked off with tape, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful and simple it was. At this point, I’m not too interested in the game itself—but I’m getting there!”

Dusen Dusen is part of Pop-In @ Nordstrom Welcomes Poketo, a unique collection of home goods, jewelry, stationery and more, guest-curated by our favorite Los Angeles boutique/gallery, Poketo. Several of the pieces pictured are available online, with a wider assortment at selected stores.

For more, read a Q&A between Poketo’s founders and Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim.

[Interview courtesy of Ashlyn Behrndt.
Photos courtesy of Robin Stein with art direction by Ashley Helvey.
Model: Justine Stevens. Hair and makeup: Jamyrlyn Mallory.]

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