The Designer

Hello, Starre Vartan here. (That’s me above, lying in the grass in NYC.) I am the founder and designer behind Dogwood & Hastings.

The Name

In case you are wondering about the title for this project, it is the name of the two homes I grew up in. Hastings House, in Coogee Beach, Australia (part of Sydney) is my mother’s family home. It is a Victorian-era beauty (built in 1865) located on the sandstone headlands of the coast, and one can hear the waves crashing from most areas outside (and inside) its walls. My earliest aesthetic memories and concepts were formed in and around this definitely-haunted house—James Joynton Smith, a mayor of Sydney, passed away there.

Dogwoods was the name of my grandmother’s modernist home in New York’s Hudson Valley; she incorporated many of the design ideas of Russel Wright, the famous naturalist builder of Manitoga, into Dogwoods. From age four until I went to college, the unique house itself and its acres of surrounding woods and wetlands that fed into Earl’s Pond were my playground, my canvas, my toolbox and my therapist.

Why?

I am a writer by trade and proclivity. I am both a journalist (I write for magazines and online publications) and a creative writer. But like most aesthetically-driven people, I love other forms of art outside my main area of focus. As the granddaughter of a photographer who published nature images in Life magazine in the 1960s (he was also an opera singer), and the daughter of a painter and the creative force behind an advertising agency (who is also a lifelong surfer), I have a deep love for visual arts and music in addition to written word, and I’m obsessed with bringing the natural world and creative projects together. Indeed, as I get older, I find it to be a challenge to separate them in my mind.

You can read all about my writing, as well as a longer biography, here.

How?

Taking my original photographs (some slightly modified for color, most not retouched at all) and putting them on fabric is a dream of mine that took technology to make happen. Suffice to say that I had always wanted to do this, but thought the process would be incredibly difficult. Now printing on fabric is a relatively straight-forward process, and can even be done with low environmental impact.

Impact

Fabric printing on demand is a low-energy process that uses fewer dyes and can even be done on eco friendly fabrics (as I have done)—as long as you find the right printer. I use Spoonflower, and have been incredibly impressed with their printing, customer service, and continual upgrades and improvements (as well as their fabric selection).

I print exclusively on organic cottons (which are Made in the USA) and silk, both of which are environmentally sustainable fabrics, as well as biodegradable and recyclable. You can read more about the Impacts and Ethics of Dogwood & Hastings here.

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