The Sisters of Studio Linear
Their paths weren't always pointed in the direction of design. Born to the parents of an architect and a textile designer, Andrea Beaulieu and Sara Pullen began their careers as a landscape architect and marine biologist respectively. Their eye kept pulling them towards design, however. Eventually, they realized they could be stronger together and left their desk jobs to let their curiosity and creativity unfold. Now, the sister run business of Studio Linear is flourishing as they embrace all aspects of designing beautiful and functional spaces. They love working with clients ranging from entrepreneurs, looking to get their website off the ground, to new restaurants, figuring out the floorplan and menu design to match their mood. We recently caught up with Andrea and Sara to learn more about what inspires them, why they migrated back to Maine, and where they're headed on this entrepreneurial path. Enjoy, visit their website, and pick up some inspiration from the Bangor based designers.
Maine The Way: You’re a sister run business! What is that like? What do you each specialize in?
Andrea & Sara: We like to joke about the fact that growing up, we were opposites. Sara was very analytical and meticulous, while Andrea, on the other hand, was more of a free spirit and dreamer. Coming together to run Studio Linear has been like a ying and yang in ways, we compliment each other very well. The differences influence the way we work on projects. While both specializing in design, Andrea tends to keep in mind the big-picture and has a great ability to envision the direction of a project, and Sara hones in on the details of both the design work and business operations. With both of us coming together on projects, it feels as if we successfully integrate each other’s ideas, allowing us to produce our best work.
MTW: Neither of you have an educational background in graphic design work. Similarly, Cam studied Geology in school, but ended up as a writer/photographer. How do Marine Biology and Landscape architecture inform the work you do today?
A&S: These science specializations have really helped to develop our curiosity and sensitivity to our surroundings. We continue to use this approach to gather inspiration and develop insights that guide our work. When approaching a design project, we observe all facets of our client's business as it currently exists and look at where they would like to be - using insights to move our work forward. When creating designs, we are always inspired by the details, patterns, and design inspiration around us, so keeping our eyes open has always been a big part of our work.
MTW: What is your favorite kind of work to do? Why?
Andrea: I love print design because I am able to design with my heart. Digital collage is a favorite, building it up layer upon layer. Sometimes I'll have a Photoshop file open with a design that consists of hundreds of layers (and truth be told, I'm AWFUL at labeling those layers).
Sara: Website design is my favorite work. I have a lot of fun curating an experience for people who visit the site, distilling information so visitors gather a complete understanding of what the client or business is all about. My hope is that viewers find the website engaging and unique, as Andrea and I work hard to cater each site very specifically to our client’s needs.
MTW: What your dream project be? How would it start and where would you love to see it go?
A&S: Our dream jobs tend to be those when a client comes to us needing solutions to every creative piece of the puzzle. Starting with branding and spatial design, which are actually very similar in the design process in terms of being a foundation and setting the tone for the way a business will look and be perceived. We would then design print materials such as menus for a restaurant or packaging for a brewery. Finally, we would wrap up the project with a gorgeous website and photography to show off all of the hard work!
MTW: You both grew up in Maine. If and how do you see that influencing your work?
Sara: A big part of it was growing up in an area where most children our age were encouraged to spend a significant part of our time outdoors playing and creating. I think learning to be creative thinkers from a young age has allowed the design process to be sort of an intuitive skill for us.
Andrea: Also, we feel like Mainers are tough. We have to survive what seems like 6 months of winter and emerge into spring and summer to start our own gardens, raise chickens and other livestock for food. In the fall, it's Harvest Time. Mainers do it all. Many of us are also juggling startup businesses, which we feel truly sets us apart with an attitude to never quit and to put in the most effort you possibly can on every project.
MTW: Speaking of which, how would you describe “Maine Design?” Is there such a thing?
A&S: Definitely - just as each region has its own food, fashion, and dialect, design can be influenced by locale. Many of the businesses we work with in Maine are looking to attract the demographic typical of our state. We can’t say that we do this at Studio Linear because we are always looking to do things a bit different, but we’re sure there are trends in Maine design.
MTW: How would you describe your particular design aesthetic? What makes your work stand out?
A&S: We were raised in an artistic home, which we think greatly influenced our style. Our father is an architect and our mother experimented with textile dyeing and quilting. These influences have taught us to be pretty eclectic in our inspiration and we feel we’ve developed a unique design sense as a result. One thing that makes our work stand-out is that we both enjoy starting our designs by sketching out our ideas. We feel like that hand drawn element also gives our work a style. We've always liked to push the boundaries in our personal style but also with our business. We try not to fall into what's trending at the moment, because these trends often fade. Instead, we try to hone in on a look that is truly our own.
MTW: We may be biased, but it seems like there is a lot of great design happening in Maine right now — not only here in Portland, but also Lewiston/Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, and so many of the smaller towns around the state. We don’t always see that same attention to design when traveling outside of Maine. Do you agree? Any thoughts on why that may be?
A&S: Maine sure does have great things happening in design, but we also do see great design coming from all over the world. Social media (Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) has a huge impact on spreading what is happening in the design world. We are now at the grasp of our fingertips, able to see design inspiration from across the globe, this is an incredible ability when you think about it.
MTW: What’s next for Studio Linear?
A&S: We've recently launched a new branch at Studio Linear called Spatial Design, which includes interior, exterior, and landscape design. All of these pieces fit perfectly together with what we do as a creative agency. We also strive to stay on top of what is trending in our field and will be attending the upcoming Dieline Conference in Boston this May to gain inspiration and new techniques to be able to offer to our clients.
Thank you for sharing, Andrea & Sara. We're lucky to have your creativity here in Maine!