WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTO | ESO STUDIO
You know that old saying, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”? The dynamic trio behind Eso Studio in Grand Rapids takes that saying to a whole new level.
Co-owners Ann Cole, Jamie Crawford, and Hannah Amodeo became friends while working in the textile industry. They soon realized they had a mutual love for sustainably created handmade products. During their weekly “art nights” at Amodeo’s house, they regularly looked for new techniques for their projects. One night they stumbled upon natural dye and knew they had found their sweet spot.
The name Eso (Eh-so) is Greek and means “within.” The three women chose to call their business Eso to convey their love of art that comes from deep within their hearts. The threesome soon decided their focus would be creating artful patterns with all-natural products that would otherwise be useless and discarded.
They began researching and learned that discarded food could be used to create vibrant colors on many different surfaces, including fabric. It just so happened that Amodeo’s parents own a local restaurant, providing the trio with plenty of options. Items like avocado pits for soft pink to peach colors, onion skins for yellow to burnt orange, cabbage for bluish-purple to green, and of course, coffee grounds for varying shades of brown.
Next, they decided to reach out to flower shops. The shops clean out their coolers weekly; what would normally end up in the trash is converted into usable products for their designs. One florist had an entire shipment of roses handled improperly that could not be sold. Amodeo jumped in the car and drove to Fort Wayne to pick them up. Florists willingly work with Eso because they are proud to know that their waste – what they would normally discard – will now find new life.
One method used by the trio is called Shibori, a Japanese technique that Crawford describes as an ancient and elevated way to tie-dye. Shibori employs distinct ways of folding fabric, so only particular parts soak up the dye when submerged into the dye bath. Another method they use is placing plants and flowers in folded fabric and using steam to bring out the colors in amazing, one-of-a-kind patterns.
If the resulting design is suitable for repeating, they will use it to create stunning wallpaper. If a pattern is not suitable for wallpaper, it might become a framed art piece. Creating a product that becomes part of a person’s environment provides artistic inspiration. They produce an atmosphere with the wallpaper; it becomes part of the living space. “It is a way of bringing the outdoors in and letting nature live in your space with you,” says Cole. The original design is often embellished by hand and framed, becoming a fine art piece.
With wallpaper patterns like Blueberry Crumble, Tiger Eye, Dawn, Birch, Cosmic, and Sand Stripe, Eso Studio has definitely found a way to bring nature inside. The designs are often very subtle, making them peaceful and relaxing, enhancing one’s environment.
With an obviously bright future, Cole, Crawford, and Amodeo look forward to expanding their offerings into draperies and other home furnishings like pillows and rugs. The ideas are endless, and they fully intend to see where this road leads. Be sure to visit their website to view designs, order samples, and learn where to purchase their wallpaper.