Josefina Pellegrini Trusts the Universe, Creates Mind-Blowing Textiles
by Livia Moore
Ask textile designer Josefina Pellegrini to list the tools she uses to create her signature art and womenswear, and she's off and counting immediately. "First of all, there are my hands," she says. "Then I use yarn, a pair of scissors, a few pins if needed, a table to sit on, and my bed frame—I use it as a measuring tool when cutting yarn. Also, a peaceful state of mind is important. Without that, things don't happen!"
Originally from Buenos Aires, Pellegrini now makes art—with the help of aforementioned tools—in Brooklyn, New York, where she shares a home with fellow artists in a cozy pocket of the borough that feels far away from the surrounding city. "I was 19 when I moved here," says Pellegrini, who earned a degree in textile design from Parsons New School of Design. "Once you build your lifestyle around this city, it's hard to give it up." Fueling her excitement and passion always: her peers, an undying interest in music and art, and the joy of applying traditional technique to modern textiles. “The fact that I enjoy every part of the working process is what encourages me to keep creating,” she says.
Hi, Josefina. When did you make the decision to start your own brand?
It started with an art piece I created in 2014. It consisted of scraps of fabric tied together with unplanned, spontaneous knots. There had been no previous study or idea when it came to shape or size—that was not my main focus. I was just astonished by the fact that I was creating a three-dimensional piece with my own two hands. The moment I did my first knot, something triggered in my mind. I realized the ability we have to create with just the power of our imagination, without dependence on any external artifact.
Have you always loved to create? What was your earliest exposure to art?
I was exposed to art from a really young age, the result of having an aunt that owns an art gallery, Galeria Vasari, in Buenos Aires. Spending time there and getting to know the artists and their work was the bridge that connected the two worlds I’ve always found myself interested in: art and fashion. It was my aunt who encouraged me to pursue a degree in fashion design at Parsons in New York. Eventually, after spending time at Central St. Martins in London, an instructor introduced me to what is now my eternal love: textiles.
"I try to leave my fears aside and just start creating."
Now that you’ve launched a business from that passion, what would you say keeps you focused and inspired?
I see art in everything that surrounds me. One idea triggers another. A new thought leads to a new idea. Sometimes I can’t stop putting ideas down in my notebook. But what makes my company move forward is the fact that exploring the world of textiles doesn’t feel like a job to me. Working with knots on my last collection was the most meditative process I’ve been through in my life. This is what I love to do.
Generally speaking, how do your designs go from concepts to physical products?
I try to leave my fears aside and just start creating. Once I start, things just happen. When I have at least a few knots on a string, the ideas just don’t stop. Sometimes there are accidents or mistakes along the way, and sometimes those become more interesting than my initial idea. So now I trust the universe as to where and how my ideas transform.
Which pieces have been the most fun to create?
My framed weavings. It's a different technique than making a dress. For these, I use a loom and weave with no plan of execution—I just choose a color palette, pick out several yarn colors, and work from there. Just weft after weft after weft. I'm always surprised with the different combinations that come out. I do think about which colors will be the dominant ones on each, but mostly, I'm just freely expressing myself on the loom. That's the beauty of it. If a thread comes out or pops up, that's okay.
What’s the best thing about being your own boss?
I am always listening to people’s advice, opinions, and ideas about my work as they see me developing my collection, and that is extremely useful. With some of my intricate pieces that I spend many hours working on, I might not see what other people on the outside see. But the best thing is having the chance to make the last decision, always. I take everything I hear and come up with my own resolutions.
What advice would you give to other artists or designers looking to launch their own brands?
Be confident. I say this to myself everyday, too. Make things your own—and own them. Yes, there are many thing that have already been made, but only you have your own personal way of viewing things in life. Why not let everyone else know about it?