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The partnership of Emiliana Gonzalez and Jessie Young, and the resulting brand of Estudio Persona, could be seen as a coincidence by some and destiny by others. The two met in Los Angeles, California shortly after individually relocating from Uruguay. Upon arrival both women were searching for where to put their creative ideas and energies professionally, when Emiliana was offered an interior design project by a potential client. She felt a bit hesitant about accepting at first. But after inviting Jessie, who immediately thought it was a great opportunity, to work the job with her, their professional partnership began. Today the duo runs the Estudio Persona design studio and showroom out of Los Angeles, where they create furniture, lighting, objects, and artwork. We talked to them about their newest collection, actionable steps for a small business to take during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why they’ve been with Squarespace since starting their website!
The two women rely on a deeply collaborative process for their unconventional designs that are inspired by natural forms and sculptural lines. Emiliana said of the start of their partnership, “While working on interiors we were always on the search for furniture. That fed our creativity and made us think of other possibilities, and gave us the urge to create those things that we couldn’t find elsewhere.” During downtime between projects and long drives across L.A., they gave shape to some ideas. The neutral color palette they favor reflects the melancholy of their native country of Uruguay, while the natural materials used provide a sense of contrast.
We had both been creating things, each in different areas. We weren’t satisfied with our creative drive while solely doing interiors, and when our first product came to life Estudio Persona was born.
When it came to naming their new endeavor, the two looked to their shared history in the movie industry and Ingmar Bergman’s movie, Persona. “It felt like it was the name as soon as we said it out loud. We just connected with it,” said Emiliana. The name Estudio Persona translates as ‘the study of a person,’ which applies quite literally to how the two think and study how a person lives when designing a piece of furniture.
Their education has also been complementary when it comes to designing for Estudio Persona. Emiliana believes that we begin creating at a young age, and the more we create the more we will perpetually keep creating. Studying industrial design gave her a solid foundation and helped shape her technical understanding and skills. Meanwhile, Jessie attended a contemporary art school, which fomented the exercise of conceptualizing and applying your ideas in different formats. It gave her the mindset to feel free to think about what something is versus what it can be. Together their knowledge has helped balance designs – and one another – out.
When it came to showcasing their work online, the two chose Squarespace from the get-go. In addition to being extremely easy to use, the platform gave the brand the breathing room and tools to design something entirely of their own. And during a recent re-launch of the site, they added e-commerce capabilities that would allow them to sell their work, all while maintaining and clearly reflecting the brand they’d created.
Estudio Persona’s work has an aesthetic that feels very unique to them, and with it they’re bringing something new to the proverbial design table. “The stubborn idea that you can do what you love without compromising what you believe in – producing everything in Los Angeles, doing photoshoots with people we admire, exhibiting artists at our space. There is a constant interchange of creative flow across artistic disciplines that we hope will continue to happen for many years to come,” Emiliana shared with us about running their business exactly as they wish.
Every small business owner has to be adaptable in the face of unexpected changes, in this case the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re in the middle of. Emiliana explained that Estudio Persona’s approach is to take things slowly, making one move at a time as she and Jessie adapt to new ways of working and connecting remotely from their homes. Their latest collection, Connection, had just been photographed when the quarantine began, so they busied themselves with releasing it and escaping cabin fever through the desert imagery seen here.
During this time they’ve continued to constantly feed Estudio Persona’s social media channels in order to keep contact with their audience, all while being respectful of the current state of the world. One tactic has been to focus on the beautiful imagery that exists for their brand, rather than sales and promotions, in an attempt to create a sense of calm during such an unpredictable time.
The majority of Estudio Persona’s work is the result of the exploration of geometric shapes, and inspired by art and architecture. “In this last collection, Connection, we worked with color in relation to nature, more specifically the desert where we were planning on taking the photos. We used different types of wood to recreate the shades of the desert in a very muted, monochromatic way,” Emiliana said of their latest designs.
There are various shades of wood found in the Arrow table that mimic the arid, earthy tones found in the desert, while the duo looked to Maharam mohair for the upholstered pieces. The Block chair is a rust color that picks up on the warm weather and clay tones found in the soil, and the H chair blends in with the vegetation through a muted moss green hue. In contrast, the thin Bow Lamp nearly disappears in the scenery, simulating a moon floating in the sky when lit at night.
Their website has also helped them analyze which products are getting the most views, anywhere at any time. This ability has helped Estudio Persona manage the attention each piece requires once it’s online, as well as assisting in guiding the brand’s evolution as they create new product designs. Jessie added, “Squarespace really enables us to maximize the visibility we need to give to whatever needs to be addressed at the given moment. With connectivity across all the media platforms we use, such as Instagram and Pinterest, it makes it really easy to manage our whole communications as a brand with as much control as there can be.”
While it’s currently even more difficult than usual to predict the future, Estudio Persona continues to grow at a steady pace and stay true to who they are with each unique collection released. This summer they’ll be designing pieces for a few commissions, and continuing to streamline their work-from-home process. Even without the ability to bounce ideas off of one another in person and build models at their studio, they remain hopeful that it will only lead to fantastic designs they never would have landed upon under any other conditions.
Ready to get started with your own site? Take the first step with a Squarespace website, whether it’s for a personal project or a small business. Use coupon code DESIGNMILK at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase of a domain or website.
Photography by Pia Riverola