From an airy Sausalito studio, the Serena & Lily creative team turns artistic concepts into commercial products.
Since the founding of Serena & Lily in 2003, the beloved brand has expanded its original focus (on nursery linens) to include everything from home furnishings to—as of this spring—women’s fashions. Composed of 18 timeless pieces, the new collection, says cofounder Serena Dugan, reflects the company’s belief that a wardrobe (like one’s furnishings) should always serve as a means of self-expression. Dugan designed the items alongside her longtime creative partner, Aaron Mutscheller. Together, they imagined them as a seamless extension of Serena & Lily’s existing product line, although the pair faced a familiar challenge: translating a vision from one medium to another. As they have so often, they worked to realize Dugan’s concept, beginning with her original sketches to form a series of compelling new products.
Every season, Dugan and Mutscheller choose a theme or a muse as a starting point. To flesh out a collection’s focus, the duo typically travels the world for inspiration. “Going somewhere unfamiliar allows you to discover something original and to transcend the familiar,” says Dugan. Once they’re back in the studio, she designs “without a filter,” creating anywhere from 50 to 100 different combinations of patterns and colors. Acting as editor, Mutscheller combs through these early drafts for concepts that are most appropriate for the Serena & Lily brand. Once they choose their favorites, they continue to refine and edit right up until the time products are styled and photographed for the catalog. “We are involved in the process up until the very end, including all the photo shoots,” says Dugan. “The goal is to ensure that the final presentation is consistent with what we envisioned in the beginning.”
A few months ago, craving a space free from the distractions of their main office, Dugan and Mutscheller moved their studio a few doors down. Their new ground-floor, loft-like workplace features a roll-up garage-style door that opens onto stunning views of the San Francisco Bay. Breezes cool the space, music pervades it, and laid-back furnishings are (of course) by Serena & Lily. “We deliberately placed ourselves in a space that inspires us every day,” says Mutscheller.
Dugan and Mutscheller have used her Palmetto pattern—a modern take on a traditional Indian floral block print—as inspiration for everything from pillows to wallpapers.
Dugan and Mutscheller conduct brainstorming sessions in the studio’s cozy den area.
The Serena & Lily apparel line, ranging from $195 to $325, includes A-line party dresses, sophisticated shirtdresses, and loungewear
A selection of Serena & Lily products are available on domino.com. To see the complete Serena & Lily collection, check out serenaandlily.com.