We're excited to dive into the making of our newest Universal pattern, Abide. Inspired by The Big Lebowski’s singular characters, "striking" imagery, and oft-quoted dialogue, Abide is a visual feast of iconic movie moments. Creating this complex pattern took some twists and turns, as we wanted it to be a tribute to the film we could be proud of. Did we nail it? We think so, man. Keep reading as we chat with Hygge & West co-founder, Aimee Lagos, and artist, Lisel Jane Ashlock, on how we brought Abide to life.
Why did you choose The Big Lebowski movie to bring to life through pattern?
Aimee: It was the same process that we used to select our first 3 movies for development – does it have a strong visual language, does it have iconic moments, characters or items that we can leverage, and does it have a really strong fan base. The answer is obviously yes to all three. Christiana and I are both big fans of the film, and we gravitated towards it immediately.
How did you decide which artist to collaborate with on this project?
Aimee: Well, that was a whole process in itself! We worked with a couple artists before realizing Lisel was the right person to bring this to life. It was such a tricky assignment. We wanted the pattern to feel sophisticated and not cartoony, and it needed to appeal to a masculine customer which, let’s face it, isn’t necessarily our strong suit. As we worked through ideas, I started imagining it in my head and what I saw looked a lot like Lisel’s style of illustration. Lisel is so lovely to work with that we reached out to her right away and luckily she was available to take on the project.
What is the basic process for creating a pattern like this?
Aimee: The fun part of this process was watching the film multiple times – I hadn’t seen it in ages, and really enjoyed immersing myself in the world of Lebowski for a long stretch. Our approach to our Universal collection has been to try and create licensed products that don’t feel like licensed products. Because we didn’t want this pattern to feel too narrative or literal, it took a little while to figure out how it would work. And then, duh, we realized we could use “the rug” to really pull the pattern together (sorry, had to slip at least one dialogue reference in there). Once that was established, we pulled a list of the vignettes and references we wanted included and gave Lisel notes on the visual style and she took it from there
How did you approach creating this pattern? What was your design process?
Lisel: First thing I did was re-watch The Big Lebowski, then re-watch it, and re-watch it again. I hadn’t seen it in years. God it’s so good. I would close my eyes and see The Dude floating in space over LA. Deciding what was going to be in it was so much fun. I compiled a HUGE list of easter eggs, and tried to make sure to put some really abstract ones. Next was working out the extremely intricate pattern of the rug itself. I took so many screenshots of the rug while watching the movie because it’s impossible to find an image of it online. It had to really resemble the real rug. Then putting it all together, creating little vignettes within the run pattern, and finding the best element to place or hide. There is a bunch of stuff hidden in the final pattern (who can find Bunny’s Toe?).
Did this project present any unexpected or unique challenges?
Aimee: One artist we approached when we first started on the project was such a big Lebowski fan that they felt too much pressure to bring it to life and gracefully bowed out before we even saw concepts. We completely understood and appreciated their honesty and their love of the film!
Lisel: I loved the problem solving aspect of this project so much. First, the main repeat pattern was The Rug itself, which is a Persian style rug. This was super intricate and had to really be authentic to the actual rug, though obviously had to take some liberties, since The Rug doesn’t have White-Russian cocktails hiding in the design. But doing that style of pattern, in and of itself, is a huge challenge. The other challenge was truly just deciding the BEST elements to add, since there are so many good ones. I wanted to add every single one, which would have been absolute mayhem.
Where do you envision this wallpaper being used?
Aimee: I know that I shouldn’t say this because powder rooms seem to be our wallpapers’ most natural habitat, but this would be such a cool powder room wallpaper. I love that it appears to an ornate sort of damask-y pattern at a distance, but when you get up close as one does in small spaces, you discover all the amazing references. I can also see it in media rooms and home offices. Last, but not least, this would be really fun for our trade partners to use in hospitality spaces.
Lisel: I love this pattern, because when you squint, it’s a pretty dense traditional pattern that could fit quite comfortably in smoking rooms, parlors, in private libraries of wealthy benefactors, much like the rooms in Mr. Lebowski’s estate. But since we don’t all have private estates, I would love to see this in a cozy office, adjacent to a big wall of bookshelves, in otherwise dark hallways, or bonus rooms people gather to watch a movie, read a book or play games. This pattern was definitely approached with a lot of humor, so any room that could use a little chuckle would benefit from some of this Dude energy.
Is this the best pattern ever, man?
Aimee: That’s just like your opinion, man. Just kidding. It is.
Lisel: Others will have to judge on that, but I can say it was truly the best pattern to create! It was so fun to be fully immersed in the world of The Dude!! I feel like a true expert on this film now. A few facts I gleaned from my fast-track education on all things Lebowski: Did you know, The Dude doesn’t bowl ONCE in the movie? The only time you see him bowling, is in the dream sequence when he’s teaching Maud to bowl. I would argue though, she is the one that tosses the ball. Also, did you know that Donny’s bowling shirts have a different name embroidered on them in every scene, and that name is never his own? Left on the cutting room floor was the naked person being tossed on the trampoline at Jackie Treetorn’s house, the Autobahn Record Cover, the ‘provocative’ drawing revealed by pencil imprinting on the Treetorn letterhead, and Arthur Digby Sellers in his Iron Lung. If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, it’s time to watch this gem of a film again.