The Design Process

About Us

Crùbag is all about collaboration and team effort. Each collection and project is focused on specific themes and requires a unique team to bring it to life. Each product belongs to a collection, is paired with engaging science communication content and linked to our campaigns to make it relevant for you and present it in a wider context.

To turn these ideas into a reality and create a complete collection with added value, Jessica works with scientists, scientific institutions, photographers, editors and mentors.

Jessica is the founder, the creative force and the designer at Crùbag. She designs with love and quirkiness, searching for those hidden processes and aspects of the oceans we’ve never seen and felt. However, they do exist and have a huge impact on our planet as a whole, helping to make it a liveable home.

When designing, Jessica uses a combination of software, photography, microscopy imaging, illustrations, sketches, drawings and artistic interpretations to create bold representations, patterns, textures, abstracts and unexpected subject depictions.

Our designs and patterns are directional, organic and unexpected; from elegant kaleidoscopic shapes, to sumptuous abstracts or bold and colourful representations. Mystery and hidden meaning and messages are carefully incorporated into the artwork, some connected to the subject and some from the connection to her childhood experiences, dreams, abstractions and reflections.

How our collections are developed

Before a collection is made, I explore and try to gain a sense of the world around us and what is happening. My studio is based at the Scottish Marine Institute, giving me access to a huge range of projects and wonderful people and facilities. I am also very fortunate to be connected to a wider international scientific community.

The next step is to look for inspiration and to visit, interact and chat with scientists; whether from the Scottish Association for Marine Science or from other wonderful institutions such as the Natural History Museum in London, the University of Tübingen in Germany or the Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela and so on. They all have stories to tell and do incredible work to shine a light on how our oceans and our natural environment work. It is fascinating to hear what exciting scientific discoveries they have made and what it means for society. For me, it feels like I’m exploring with them. Finding out about so many lovely projects and what is happening on our planet is a huge privilege.

The first stage is about linking my intrinsic inspiration to the external inspiration coming from exploring and looking at the exciting work of scientists and the search for information on the oceans, its ecosystems and pressing environmental issues. I try to connect all of that to the inspiration found in people and nature, its colours, smells and sounds, walking at the beach, diving or snorkelling, visiting a city and even taking pictures around. Then I let the subconscious work for a little while.

Now it’s time to select a project from a list of potential themes, collaborators and a draft timeline. Sometimes I’ve been approached by a scientist directly, sometimes the opportunity presents itself as it was meant to be and sometimes I wait a long time for the right moment.

This is the crucial part, establishing a collaboration and a journey together with the scientist and other possible team members. I love this part because each collection is a unique world with its own set of rules, aesthetics and messages. A collaboration is a partnership based on trust and mutual admiration and the desire to bring out relevant ocean stories worth telling.

 

Once a collaboration is established, I proceed to read about the research, interview the scientist and other people involved and look at relevant research images and samples. It’s a great way to make friends. Gathering materials, images and data and looking at samples is key at this stage. It is not about pretty images, it’s about looking for information and images, which convey something that can be used in the creation and design process.

Sometimes I look down the microscope and take my own pictures, but I mostly use the wealth of research images created by scientists to understand something unique. Their passion, hard work and dedication takes me from the microscope to samples of sand grains from the sand-fraction in seamounts in Oman to algae in a petri dish infected with a beautiful red pathogen. I also love those samples and images taken by unmanned vehicles in the darkest corners of the deep sea or by scientific divers near coastal areas. This work is complemented with beautiful seascape and environmental photography of the oceans taken by amazing photographers and by us at Crùbag.

With all information, data and imagery gathered, a sense of colour and textures starts to emerge, depending on what kind of organism and ecosystem are involved. From there I create a mood-board. This is an open process. I don’t judge it; I just pin down things that come to mind; anything that sparks and inspires me. It is a very personal process. In a few collaborations this process is shared.

Now I start making sketches and playing around with the images. I create a palette of colours and think about materials and base fabric. This part is conscious, planned and carried out with discipline. I leave around 10-25% for the unknown, for the subconscious inspiration to emerge and intervene. This combination is what makes each design unique and cannot be repeated. Sometimes it surprises me.

Designs and patterns start to emerge and gain form and colour. I then decide what will be an individual design, what will be a repeat pattern, whether the colours will be the same as they are in nature or whether I will change them according to the colour palette or a more spontaneous result. Then I choose those designs which I think can be part of the collection.

Now we have to think about fabrics, finishes and textures. We start sampling and repeat the process several times until we get it right.

Parallel to designing and sampling, we start developing the story and science outreach content. This is crucial and a key aspect of our work. Each collection has a unique team that contributes to the content creation. We shape the stories and content together with the scientist and then the output is revised and checked by copyrighters and other scientists not directly involved in the collections.

This approach helps us present sound scientific information alongside our creative work. We document the story behind the collection providing science outreach to our wonderful customers to share what the design is about and to fulfil our mission to spread ocean literacy and love for the natural environment.

The customer will feel connected to the oceans, have their own inspiration and a story to tell. That is why I love to share the science behind the designs. Once the prototypes are made and the content is ready we do a photoshoot and go into production. We launch the collection on the website and at events. It is a unique and exciting journey. Every collection is a labour of love.

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