Alyssa Panichella used to lust over textiles while shopping for her design consultancy business, Achella Design. After multiple hospitality design shows spent drooling (we assume) over fabulous fabrics, she turned this lust into action. Read on to learn about what inspires Alyssa in this installment of our Featured Artist series!
Where do you live?
My husband, Chris and I managed to settle in what we see as the best little beach town in Southern California. There are the obvious things like the near perfect weather and over 7 miles of beautiful beaches. But what we really fell in love with was the sense of community. I think the proper name, “Carlsbad Village”, suites it well. It is incredibly rich with small family owned businesses. Whether you are grabbing a slice of pizza and a beer, picking up a new surfboard, or getting a haircut, you’ll see those business owners and employees at school drop-off, the beach, or walking the dog. We have found these are the people we want to raise our children around, people that not only respect but appreciate and find true value in the differences in each other.
When did you begin designing textiles? What inspired you to get started?
As a Graphic Designer by trade it was a very natural addition to my work. My husband, Christopher Panichella, and I founded Achella Design, a small multi-disciplinary design consultancy in 2006. Our primary focus has been designing contract furniture for various markets including hospitality, corporate, education and healthcare. I would find myself at NeoCon or the HD Show lusting over fabrics and patterns. A few years ago my husband encouraged me to stop the “wanting” and start “doing”. WeaveUp was the perfect opportunity to make this leap. I am truly free to be creative and partner with a company that I respect in all aspects of their business.
Tell us about your creative process. How has it evolved since it started?
My creative process is totally different when it comes to the various sides of our business. I have regular graphic design clients that require straight-forward problem solving. We approach furniture as a team with individual strengths that we recognize and respect as a group which helps guide that process.
When it comes to fabric I would have to say my creative process is completely organic. It is always changing or rather almost never the same week to week, month to month. It’s a difficult task to create something “new” day in and day out. I have to explore new mediums, paint, draw, make prints, surround myself with different environments, people, and places. I find mixing things up helps generate new ideas.
What is your studio workspace like? Do you have a routine when working in your studio?
Though we have a small studio space just a mile or so from home, I don’t spend much time there. We have found that our creativity is better fostered elsewhere… the book store, walking around town, checking out a new restaurant. Chris calls the office the execution chamber for good reason: we reserve it as a space to get down to business and get stuff done… to literally execute the visions and concepts that were created elsewhere.
Where do you seek inspiration for new designs?
Everywhere. I just need to constantly remind myself to open my eyes and take it all in. It’s too easy to go through life with your head down, getting from point A to point B.
What is your favorite medium?
I’ve been doing a lot of watercolor lately and good old pen on paper. Technology has really cut down the many steps required in the past to get from something created by hand to a seamless pattern. Which I am so grateful for, because I find my favorite pieces I’ve created are so clearly painted or drawn by hand. There is so much beauty in the imperfections you can’t replicate on the computer.
What is your favorite color combination?
Warm gray plus the flavor of the day.
What other artists and designers have influenced your work?
I am lucky to have grown up in a family of artists. My mother is potter, ceramic artist, and a teacher. My father a film maker, photographer, and painter. They defined what an artist was for me. Everything about them is and reflects art. They have a fantastic studio in their home that is overflowing with inspiration. But my inspiration from them has not been limited to their own creations, but their love for art. One of my first memories of being in absolute awe was walking through a Chuck Close exhibit with my mom at the Seattle Art Museum. His body of work was so clearly connected yet so different as he worked through different periods in his life. He was the first time I realized the words artist and genius could be spoken in the same sentence. It took until I was out of my teenage years to see I had been living with artistic geniuses my whole life.
A ceramic piece by Lisa Crubaugh, Alyssa’s mother
How has WeaveUp helped you market and sell your artwork?
I am such a fan of WeaveUp. It is an amazing tool to get my fabric in front of interior designers and architects looking for the perfect pattern to complete a job. And what makes it perfect is the vast number of options paired with endless possibilities of color and scale customization.
Thanks for sharing with us, Alyssa! You can shop all the stellar prints by AchellaDesigns here.