Studio Visit

The New Melbourne Label Creating Mid-Century Inspired Cushions + Quilts

Sarah Russell is one of those designers whose career trajectory has included many varied creative outlets.

Not only did she help co-found sustainable fashion label Caves Collect, but more recently she’s launched her own homewares brand Scotato.

From her Melbourne art deco apartment, Sarah hand-crafts modernist-inspired cushions and quilts, in soulful, earthy tones, with meticulous attention to detail. Take a look below!

Bea Taylor

Sarah Russell’s quilts take over a week to make.

Sarah Russell, of Scotato.

The Melbourne designer hand-creates all her cushions and quilts herself.

She learnt sewing from her mum, who is also a creative!

‘The more detailed designs feel a lot like putting together a complex puzzle that needs to be laid down in a particular order.’

Sarah Russell

Sarah chooses quality natural fabrics to make her designs. Sometimes, she hand-dyes them to get ‘more earthy tones’.

Sarah’s studio is based in the bedroom of her art deco Melbourne apartment.

All her pieces start out as sketches. From there, she moves on to making collages with fabric, until finally sewing the pieces together.

‘I love to iron my fabrics at the curved window which has a view full of trees rich with bird life,’ says Sarah.

‘It’s such a beautiful and peaceful space to create,’ she says.

The final works come together by cutting, pressing and sewing all of the pattern pieces and components together.

Once she’s happy with each finished piece, she moves onto reproducing what she’s just created!

Bea Taylor
1st of June 2023

Sarah Russell’s journey in the business of creating and selling began in grade three, when she launched a ‘humming business’ of sculpted paper weights and sold them to her fellow classmates.

Sadly, this thriving venture was cut short when the principal finally decided the amount of cash it was bringing in from students was too much for the school to turn a blind eye to.

Luckily, this experience didn’t dampen Sarah’s business savvy! A few years later, she built another ardent customer base looking to purchase the shoes, bags and accessories she was making after completing a ‘handmade footwear course’ (while also working and designing for Melbourne luxury leather handbag brand, A-Esque).

About 10 years on, the prolific young designer launched and co-founded her third business — women’s wear brand Caves Collect — with her then housemate Johanna Howe.

‘It was during these years that I started creating with fabric as a material,’ explains Sarah. ‘Jo and I would divide up any left-over sampling fabric and production off-cuts for personal projects… I started making textiles that I needed for my home, and fell in love with the process and objects that came out of it.’

This brings us to her most recent business venture; ‘Scotato‘ — a homewares brand, focussing on hand-made, soulful and textured cushions and quilts.

Sarah works out of her Art Deco apartment in Carlton North, which has been her home, with her husband and now two-year-old daughter, for five years. ‘It’s such a beautiful and peaceful space to create,’ she says.

Each of her pieces are meticulously hand-made (and sometimes hand-dyed), with Sarah doing all the designing, cutting, pressing and sewing herself. Once the final work is produced, she then sets out to reproduce the patterns she’s just created. ‘It’s a methodical and meditative process,’ she says.

While Sarah’s cushions can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day to create, a quilt takes at least a week. ‘The more detailed designs feel a lot like putting together a complex puzzle’ she says.

Whilst Scotato is still in its early stages, Sarah is relishing the opportunity to design and make keepsakes for the home. ‘I’m loving the change from clothing, which is more of a product for the individual, to textiles, which can be enjoyed and used by a family, group or whoever visits a space,’ she explains.

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