Artist and administrator Sarah Von Dreele has worked as a business consultant for the past twenty years, perfecting business’ marketing plans, visual direction, and strategy. Breaking away from her day-to-day, Von Dreele began hand-painting freely after days of consulting as personal downtime. When she realized that her bright, inspiring prints could be used for a larger purpose, she began a home decor brand, sharing her abstract florals and geometric shapes with an international audience. In partnership with London-based Rosenthal, Sarah is now a designer of eye-catching, room-redefining wallpapers, distributed worldwide. Aside from her newfound success in home and design, and preparing for her debut launch at ICFF 2019, she continues to consult and aid clients in their business ventures. This Maker Monday, I was lucky enough to chat with the wallpaper wiz and get the scoop on what she’s up to when she puts down the brush (hint: she may or may not be an all-star basketball dribbler). Handmade wallcoverings guarantee personal style and technique woven into the final product. The same goes for Sarah’s- every design was formulated and painted by hand with gouache and gusto.
Andrew Joseph – What’s your wakeup ritual?
Sarah Von Dreele – My daughter used to be my alarm clock, but now I have to wake her up for school. We both stumble out into the kitchen, where I make myself a latte and whip up waffles for my young assistant. I (she) received a waffle maker for Christmas from my auntie, and it’s been a waffle haus over here ever since. After school drop off at 8 am, I head over to SoulCycle on 83rd Street for spin class. I drank the Kool-aid pretty hard a few years ago (yes, I’m that Upper East Side girl with a million pairs of skull & crossbones leggings), but spin class really sets the day up for me. My favorite instructors are Emma, Mireya, Anandah and, of course, Stacy G.
Andrew – How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Sarah – You’re funny, Andrew!
Andrew – What is one thing no one knows about you?
Sarah – Get ready… I’ve never seen the movie E.T.
Andrew – Dream country to work in?
Sarah – France. I think in a previous life I must have been a village cat. About 15 years ago, after becoming frustrated (and embarrassed) that I didn’t speak another language, I signed up for a beginner French class at FIAF. I failed miserably. Rather than lose my course fee, I opted for a private class where I met the magical “Tante” Marie-Therese. She quickly figured out how I learn (visually, of course), and I study with her on a regular basis to this day. My lessons are structured in three parts: gossip, homework review, more gossip. Learning another language makes my head do gymnastics, which I love. Je ne peux pas discuter de politiques mais je peux commander le plat du jour.
Andrew – Vintage or new?
Sarah – Depends. I really like older cars – there’s nothing like a boxy Audi from the 90s. Or something Molly Ringwald would drive in a John Hughes movie. Cars are so bubbly now.Gouache, Von Dreele’s only medium, is water-based and contributes to the transparent, ethereal nature of prints like these. This dreamy blue print from Von Dreele is a bubbly, bright choice.
Andrew – What are three things you can’t live without?
Sarah – My small 7-year-old friend, grandpa’s slide rule, and gouache.
Andrew – What’s one ingredient you put in everything?
Sarah – Crunchy sea salt.
Andrew – What’s your current TV obsession?
Sarah – Hey Amazon, hurry up with more Mrs. Maisel!
Andrew – Secret talent?
Sarah – I played basketball in school and have mad dribbling skills. My best friend took a slow-motion video of me dribbling recently – it’s comical or embarrassing. My daughter likes to show me off to her friends: “Hey mom, do that crazy basketball trick of yours!”
Andrew – How would you define your work in three words?
Sarah – Ethereal, calm, personal.
Andrew – Must have clothing item everyone should have?
Sarah – A good stylist who knows your body type and can be honest with you.
Andrew – Best way to take a rest/decompress?
Sarah – Being quiet and running really far. Running, and exercise in general, has been an invaluable tool in my life – not only to clear my head, but its also a nice way to explore new places. A few years ago I ran the Nice Marathon which runs along the Mediterranean coast, finishing in Cannes. They have huge blocks of chocolate at the finish line! While we had 30mph headwinds and rain the whole way, it was a very peaceful experience for me.
Andrew – You are stuck on an island, you can pick one food to eat forever without getting tired of it, what would you eat?
Sarah – Easy. Popcorn from my stove top popper. It’s a food group for me.
Andrew – Favorite scent?
Sarah – Citrus. I always have a Jonathan Adler/ SoulCycle candle around, and I’ve used Hesperides from Fresh for years. I love the correlation between scent and memory.
Andrew – What’s one thing that is always in your refrigerator?
Sarah – Fresh Direct orange/grapefruit/lemon sparkling water. Obsessed.In bloom year-round, Von Dreele’s fiery floral collections bring light and lightheartedness to any room in need of a bit more cheer. Von Dreele’s prints are nature inspired with a twist. These blue ferns in varying shades of purple evoke depth and dynamics that a traditional wallpaper can not.
About Sarah Von Dreele | Sarah Von Dreele has been the creative director of Onethread Design, Inc., a New York-based design consultancy, which she founded in 2003. She has spent the last 20 years of her career developing brands and communication systems for business to business and consumer-facing clients. Hailing from the rust belt of Pittsburgh, Sarah has applied her tireless work ethic to a comprehensive, visual exploratory process, informed by client goals and business strategy.
After a career in marketing strategies, photoshoots, and all things rag right, Sarah has returned to her desire of the process of making by hand. What began as a simple creative exercise at the end of the day quickly evolved into a collection of surface designs, painted exclusively in gouache. Sarah has always been influenced throughout her career by pattern as a visual and organizational tool. Her latest works explore the integration of imperfection and repetition to create rich patterns. The abstracted floral and geometric forms are ethereal and calm, lending themselves to a variety of applications for the curated home.
In addition to her collaborations with interior designers and an upcoming line of products with a home decor brand, Sarah’s work is currently being distributed as wall decor to the trade by the London-based fine art publisher Rosenstiel.
This coming spring, Sarah will launch her debut collection of wallpaper at ICFF 2019 in New York. Sarah received a BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Between overseeing her design consultancy, painting what she sees, and keeping up with her second grader, she patiently pursues her interest in learning the French language. Sarah welcomes commissions, partnerships, and collaborations which extend the hand-painted designs to bespoke interiors and consumer products.
About Andrew Joseph | Andrew Joseph’s passion for design and rich journalistic history led to the launch of his boutique PR firm in 2012. Prior to enjoying the successes of Andrew Joseph PR, Andrew honed his editorial skills at Vanity Fair and Allure. This experience, as well as the strong network of contacts developed over the years in public relations, brings a valuable edge to his new role as contributing editor. Let the musing begin.
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