How A MAJOR New York Designer Does S.F.

Photo: Courtesy of Anna-Alexia Basile.
A fixture in the New York City fashion scene, Ellen Van Dusen of Brooklyn-based label Dusen Dusen has amassed an army of cool-girl fans — Lena Dunham and Malia Obama included. Her modern silhouettes are playful and easy to wear, not to mention every print-lover’s dream.

So, when we found out the designer was headed west for a few weeks, we knew we had to pick the S.F. newbie's creative brain on which local spots she fell in love with during her brief stay. Dusen took us on an inspired journey around town — showing us her favorite stops — from outdoorsy places like Fort Funston (where she and Boston Terrier Snips roam around) to Press: Works On Paper (where she heads for literary inspiration).

Take a peek at her list of S.F. musts, and for more Dusen, head to Workshop Residence this Thursday, May 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. where she'll be giving a talk on everything from her design process to her time in the Bay.
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Photo: Courtesy of Anna-Alexia Basile.
Tell us more about what brought you to San Francisco.
"I came to S.F. to do a residency with Workshop, which is an organization that brings in different artists and designers to create a product, and helps to facilitate production locally. I am here doing a six-week residency, which is coming to a close pretty soon."

What are you working on while you're here?
"I am working on a couple different projects while I'm here, but what I am currently focusing on is different objects made out of resin and laser-cut plexiglass. I am making a checkers set, a table, and some magnets."
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Photo: Courtesy of Anna-Alexia Basile.
What major differences between NYC and S.F. have you noticed while being here?
"The biggest difference is proximity to nature. It's so cool that the beach is part of the city, and that there are hikes and great views all within city limits. Also, burritos here are way better."

What were some things you were surprised to learn about S.F.?
"That there are sunny parts of the city! And, Dogpatch, where I am living, happens to be one of them. I was expecting to be cold all the time, which has definitely not been the case."
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Photo: Courtesy of Anna-Alexia Basile.
Tell us more about Workshop.
"Workshop has been my home base, and I think what they are doing here is really interesting and unique. I have access to a lot of different kinds of tools here, and it has been nice to focus on something other than clothes for a while."

How do you think the maker scene differs here in S.F.?
"The community seems a little smaller here, and there seems to be more of an emphasis on the handmade. In New York, a lot of my peers are focused on manufacturing instead of making things themselves."

Who are some makers you admire in S.F.?
"I love Gravel & Gold, Kindah Khalidy, Yellow Owl Workshop, and Atelier Dion."
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Photo: Courtesy of Anna-Alexia Basile.
Where is your favorite place to head for inspiration here?
"I think Press is my favorite bookstore of all time! It is so well curated; I would buy every book in the store. I like that the selection is relatively small, and that the taste of the owners is so specific. I think it's a really special place!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Anna-Alexia Basile.
You've spent a lot of time at Fort Funston. What do you love about it?
"It is a dog's paradise! I was shocked when I saw it for the first time. It is huge, so beautiful, and all for dogs. Snips has never been happier."
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Photo: Courtesy of Anna-Alexia Basile.
What’s been your proudest career moment so far?
"My proudest career moment was seeing Malia Obama wearing one of my dresses during a Justin Timberlake performance at the White House. She was sitting next to her dad, and I was like, Did the president just touch something I made? Did Justin Timberlake see the president's daughter wearing my dress? Does Malia Obama want to be my friend? "
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