Celebrating Earth Day With Prophet Gypsy Robot

In honor of  Earth Day, we recently collaborated with Jamie Tubbs, founder of Chicago-based Prophet Gypsy Robot known for her love of repurposing + reusing materials, to create some limited edition Unison x PGR Woven Wall Hangings using our scrap fabric. We caught up with Jamie and asked her about background, process + what’s next for PGR.  Proceeds from sales will benefit Chicago Artists Coalition, check our her wall hangings here.


1. What’s your background with textiles and how did you begin Prophet Gypsy Robot?

My mom was a seamstress when I was little and we always had tons of fabric and scraps around. She never bought something she could make, and she rarely couldn’t make something. But the cost of clothing production dropped so much and apparel got so much cheaper to buy than make. She switched careers but never stopped teaching us to make things. Homemade household goods have stayed more comparable to store prices, and when I got my first apartment I got into making things like pillow covers and curtains. 


2. Where does the name Prophet Gypsy Robot come from?

It’s about my design aesthetic. The Gypsy part refers to color, texture, pattern, maximalism, baubles, beads, fluff and all the things. The Robot part refers to restrained color palettes, clean lines, minimalism, simplicity, deconstructed weaving like the technique “weft over” which shows up a lot in my work and I just learned is an actual legitimate thing weavers do.


These two aesthetics are always competing for first place in my heart and they seem directly opposed. So my work explores trying to visually communicate both of those at once. The Gypsy and Robot overlap most naturally when it comes to the shared value of repurposing.  


The Prophet part incorporates another huge part of who I am, someone who likes to declare good things through a megaphone about people and where we are all going together. So, PGR is this little robot like Wall-E who goes around with a flower crown, saving and reusing all the things, preaching a message about how valuable and capable and seen you are, and that when we do our best together we bring life from death. 


3. What made you start working with repurposed materials specifically?

Reflex. I’ve been thinking about how lower economic classes have an incredible skill for reuse and repurposing that we can leverage and create new streams of income and value that the future needs from us. Something that is just natural to anyone who grew up with less resources will be an important skill going forward because we need to find creative ways to use our resources in a more sustainable way again.


For the past little bit of history, wealth has meant being able to just throw stuff away and not think about it. The rich of the future will be people who find great value in using our resources in the most sustainable ways possible. That will be a huge part of what makes something beautiful and valuable. Hopefully that happens before we have no choice, which is why I want to show that we can elevate stuff that’s been thrown aside to something that people find truly valuable. 

4. How did you choose the particular Unison scrap fabrics for each weaving? Did the prints determine your weaving patterns?


When I was looking through all the Unison remnants I was like, “I can’t believe this is my life right now”. That’s my version of living the dream- alone with piles and piles of scrap fabrics ready to be turned into something! I had about 10 directions I wanted to go but the color pallet I stuck with was for the season and what I’m into right now- oranges and pinks and tone-on-tone and florals. I wanted the weaving pattern to be really simple and for the pieces to be about showcasing the colors of the fabrics, so I did one clean, angled line. They look awesome hanging together with all those simple clean angles. 


5. What other upcoming projects are you working on?

Too many, which is awesome! I’ve got the One of a Kind Show at the end of this month and after that I’m working with friend and fellow maker Joslyn Villalpando ( of J.Villa Workshops) on a project at her school about repurposing (so excited to make stuff with kids!). I’m going to be offering workshops on the West Side at a store called Creativita once I work out all the details.


I’m most excited about starting on a series I have in my head using all sorts of working class uniforms, and incorporating techniques from the global working class like boro stitching. “Boro” means “tattered rags” and the technique was created by wives of fishermen who mended their work clothes in such a beautiful way that now it’s a world wide fashion element. 

Thanks Jamie! Shop the Unison x PGR Woven Wall Hangings here.


Unison Q+A: Joslyn Villalpando of J.Villa Workshop

We recently hosted a Weaving Workshop using our scrap fabric with Joslyn Villalpando, founder of J.Villa Workshop. We talked to Joslyn about her practice, and how her love for teaching translated into hosting events, and what’s next for J.Villa Workshop.


1. How long have you been teaching as J.Villa Workshop and how did it begin?

While teaching art for Chicago Public Schools, I was working on my thesis at the School of The Art Institute Chicago around creating community with craft and fiber art. After a long day of teaching and writing paper after paper for grad school, I was craving two things: time with friends and making art again, so I started hosting craft gatherings in my little Chicago condo with my friends. Each gathering, usually around a holiday, was paired with a cocktail and treat.


For instance, I had a group for Valentines Day and we made block print cards, sipped a pink gin drink, and ate sugar cookies.  I love craft media; weaving, embroidery, macrame, etc. because of its implications of approachability and I love seeing what contemporary makers are doing with the traditional techniques.


Curating a whole craft experience brings me so much joy so I started reaching out to various venues around Chicago to see if they’d be interested in hosting my craft gatherings that would involve them, in some way. I was pleasantly surprised that most are really into it and have fun coming up with the workshop with me! I’ve done some fun events with Bang Bang! Pie, Antique Taco and The Barrelhouse Flat.


2. You teach a wide variety of workshops, including printmaking, weaving and embroidery. Do you have a favorite that you like to teach?

I love teaching each one for different reasons. Embroidery is so gratifying because I know how intimidating it can be for beginners and its fun to create an accessible workshop where people leave saying, “oh ok I can do this, I got this!” Weaving…that was my first love so I know my joy for that one comes through when I teach! I just love them all! 


3. You also create custom weavings, how do you determine the color palette and patterning for those pieces?

I love creating custom weavings. I’m usually inspired by a color palette and I’ll stick with that for a weaving or two. I love switching it up between tight, laborious weavings with a more intricate design and textured, loose, minimal weavings. 


4. What’s next for J.Villa Workshop?

I’m working to make J.Villa Workshop my full time job, this coming April will mark one year and I’m having so much fun continuing to come up with new gatherings! I started with a few contacts and venues who wanted to work together and those have each led me to new ones. I love collaborating with new makers, venues, and small business owners as my own business grows. I’ve found such a beautifully supportive community in Chicago and I’ll keep curating craft gatherings as long as people keep joining me! 

Learn more about J.Villa including upcoming workshops here


Dream Weavers: Introducing Makaua Woven Baskets



Beautiful things happen in the hands of artisans. Now imagine what’s possible when more than 500 artisan families are empowered to use their talents for the betterment of their community.


That’s the story behind Makaua Baskets, a new addition to our Spring collection. The aesthetic of the baskets was what first grabbed our attention; they’re made from rustic natural palm leaves but manage to look so perfectly modern. Then we discovered their story and knew we had to share them with you.


Makaua Baskets are made by in-need families in Mexico, who use traditional hand-braiding technique passed down through generations. These artisans have been making the baskets since 2002 and have been able to improve their quality of life with their income. It’s true — more than 500 families have been involved and positively impacted.


The palm used is a sustainable natural fiber that’s abundant in the south of Mexico. Its gorgeous neutral color goes well with any living space. Also, those leather handles – they add refinement and make the baskets easily tote-able.


We hope you love them as much as we do. Shop Woven Natural Baskets here


Unison In Process: Inside The Humboldt Collection

Historic Inspiration for a Reimagined Bedding Collection

On the near-west side of Chicago lies a community that represents the very fabric of America—interwoven cultures marked by dynamic social change and overlapping styles, all evolving and thriving amidst a backdrop that’s notable as much for its historic landmarks as its decidedly urban charm.


Centered around a sprawling, 207-acre park, the Humboldt Park neighborhood is one part fast-paced cultural hub, one part serene oasis in the midst of the modern bustle. It’s simultaneously classic and modern, diverse and determined, everlasting and yet always somehow new.

What could be better inspiration than that?


Named for this historic community in our own beloved hometown, our Humboldt bedding collection is designed to reflect the area’s longevity and beautiful wear.

Inspired by the hand-woven look, unique texture, and 2-sided pattern of classic madras plaids, this bedding is as casually chic as a fresh-air picnic. Unison co-founder Robert Segal parlayed this inspiration into his original drawing for the pattern, and production designer Erica Lubetsky then translated that drawing into an engineered plaid.


The result was a simpler, sleeker pattern—more modern in tone. Then, we scaled it up for a strong, graphic punch and got ready to convert the carefully considered design into a textile.

First, material: we selected yarn-dyed cotton in an oxford weave, to showcase the delicate blending of colors.


The linens have a basket weave construction, which creates a checkerboard effect with white, producing a softer tone that is perfectly suited to a mellow-cool bedroom. To get the contrast just where we wanted it, we selected darker, more saturated yarns that would blend into the perfect finished hue.


As a final detail, we engineered each side of the duvet with a lighter blue, asymmetrical stripe on one side, so that when the bed is made with covers turned back, a stripe appears on each end.


Looks like you might actually start to enjoy making your bed in the morning.

Shop Humboldt Bedding 20% Off now thru 02/26, shop the White Sale here.



Unison In Process: What is Matelassé?

What is Matelassé?

When you envision your dream bedroom, what description comes to mind? We’ll take beautiful, cozy, and plush. And, if it’s possible to fuse whistle-clean high style with a dash of homey goodness, we might be nearing perfection.


Enter matelassé.

Developed in France in the late 18th century, the matelassé weaving or stitching technique was originally designed to imitate quilting. In fact, in its original French, the word “matelassé” (pronounced mat-luh-SAY) means “quilted” or “cushioned,” and the material was created to mimic the style of hand-stitched quilts made in Marseille.

By virtue of its pattern and weave, the technique achieves a padded appearance without any padding within the fabric. A single-ply, typically woven material, matelassé is often used for coverlets and decorative shams today.

A matelassé is made with either 3 or 4 sets of yarns, with 2 sets serving as the regular warp and weft yarns and the other set(s) as crepe or coarse cotton yarns. When woven together, these yarns are crisscrossed. And when finished, the crepes or cottons shrink, producing that defining, puckered detail.


Sleeping In Style

The best matelassé will retain the hand-quilted look that has defined this material since its inception. Since it is thicker than a sheet-grade fabric, matelassé is quite durable and delivers a refined, tailored look.


With a texture similar to a fine quilt or bubbly brocade, matelassé is often patterned in elaborate florals or (our personal favorite) simple geometrics. It is at once luxurious and easy to care for, with its strong weave and typically cotton material.

These factors add up to something we all value: stylish beauty. But its versatility is the characteristic that renders matelassé material so timeless. With its rich texture, it delivers depth and communicates style. But its clean, often neutral palette also makes it easy to combine with the overall look of any bedroom – whether clean and simple or bright and bold.


At Unison, we source our matelassé duvets, shams, and coverlets from Portugal, where the textile trade dates back to the late 1700s. With a tradition of high-quality product delivered at fair prices, Portugal’s network of fine textile manufacturers is today considered among the most distinguished in the world.


Our particular vendor has been working in matelassé for over 18 years—a deep and rich history that is stitched into the very fabric of our Himmeli bedding, which is produced on a jacquard power loom. The gorgeous, starburst-like pattern is selected through a controller—a computer that communicates stitch-by-stitch weaving instructions to the loom. These looms ensure a plush, hand-quilted look, while high-quality cotton delivers an elegant hand.


So as you’re drifting off into sweet, stylish slumber, you can enjoy pleasant dreams of the rich traditions, caring hands, and impeccable designs that have contributed to your perfect tuck in.

Himmeli Matelassé Bedding is now 20% Off thru 02/26 shop the White Sale here


How It’s Made: Hand Printed Pillows

Here at Unison we’re committed to working with vendors that provide a high level of craftsmanship and quality products. Did you know our throw pillows are handprinted and sewn in the USA?

Read along to for an inside look at how are throw pillows, are made and now thru 01/14 enjoy 10% Off Throw Pillows with code EXTRA10


The fabric for our throw pillows is made using a hand screen printed process. Large scale fine mesh screens are coated with a light sensitive emulsion. A transparency with the image to be printed is then exposed on the screen using an exposure unit.


Water is used to rinse out the screen, clearing out the emulsion in the areas where the pattern was exposed, allowing for ink to pass through.


After the screen dries, it is ready to print. Large buckets of ink are mixed and then poured on one end of the screen that sits on top of the fabric.


The ink is then quickly pulled across the screen using a large squeegee, pushing ink through the screen’s open areas and producing our desired print. Because the screens are so large, it takes two people to pull the squeegee across the screen.


This process is repeated down the remaining roll of fabric and once it’s dry, the next color may be layered on top. Once the printing is completed, the fabric is sent to our headquarters in Chicago for inspecting and then converted by a local sewing company into our line of throw pillows and table linens.


Voila your pillow is complete!

Don’t forget to enjoy 10% Off Throw Pillows now thru 01/14, use code EXTRA10




Unison x The Weaving Mill

Here at Unison, we seek out and collaborate with an array of independent artists and designers, offering distinctive accessories, hard goods, and art that infuse homes with the clean beauty and functional substance of modern American design.

This year we’re especially excited about our most recent collaboration on a limited edition throw blanket with artists and co-founders of The Weaving Mill, Matti Sloman and Emily Winter. We sat down with Matti and Emily to learn more about their creative process and all things weaving. Read on to learn more and watch our video of the weaving in action!


Briefly introduce yourselves

Emily: I grew up in San Francisco and moved to Chicago for college. I got my B.A. in History from University of Chicago. I started weaving right after I finished college, interning with Natalie Boyett at the Chicago Weaving School. I spent the next couple years working with her, teaching at Envision Unlimited and doing various odd jobs. I moved to Providence in 2013 for a Master of Fine Arts in Textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design. Matti and I overlapped for one year in the MFA program and hit it off.

Matti: I grew up in Boston and got my BFA (Painting) and MFA (Textiles) from RISD. I have worked for a number of artists over the years as a studio assistant, which informed my desire for a collaborative studio practice. After grad school, and before moving to Chicago, I participated in the Land Arts of the American West residency which expanded my understanding of the studio as a practice vs. a place.


What is the history of The Weaving Mill?

The Weaving Mill is an outgrowth of the Chicago Weaving Corporation, a textile company that started in the 1940s. The CWC began in Wicker Park, moved to the suburbs in the mid 80s and in 2005 partnered with social services agency Envision Unlimited to create a job training program for adults with developmental disabilities.

I (Emily) worked at Envision Unlimited as a teaching artist and knew Jim, who ran the mill. When I was in grad school, I learned that he was retiring and that there weren’t any concrete plans for the textile equipment. I started talking with people at Envision and at RISD about the possibility of restarting the weaving program at West Town Center. I asked Matti if she would be interested in coming to Chicago to work on this together and she said yes, she would. We both moved to Chicago in the summer of 2015 and started cleaning up the workshop, learning the equipment, and teaching sewing classes to Envision’s clients.


What is it about the art of weaving that you’re drawn to?

Textiles are always in some in-between territory, between art and design, utility and aesthetics. This makes it a really meaty medium to work in, because it always pushes a little bit against some of those conventions. We like that the fabric we make always moves into the world in ways we don’t anticipate.

Can you talk a bit about your residency program?

Hosting an artist-in-residence was a fundamental program of The Weaving Mill since our initial brainstorming conversations. We always imagined The Weaving Mill as a multifaceted organization. Looking towards The Fabric Workshop as an inspiration, we believe the integration of working artists into our studio and the art program at West Town Center would elevate everyone’s practice. We received a Propellor Fund grant last fall that has funded our pilot program. This summer, three artists, staying for a month each, have brought their studio practices and energy to West Town Center. Each artists contributes 16 hours of workshops for Envision Unlimited clients. The remarkable response to the workshops has solidified the importance of continuing the residency next year.


Do you find weaving to be a fairly accessible medium for your students?

West Town Education for Textiles (W.E.F.T.) is our textile education program at West Town. We work with two groups of Envision clients twice a week, building up sewing skills. We work on cutting, measuring, design, and sewing machine skills. Our hope with this program is that participants will become comfortable with these skills and be able to use them in their personal lives and in the future, for paid production work.


How did you begin working with Unison?

When we discussed The Weaving Mill prior to moving to Chicago with our RISD faculty, they would nod and whisper “you need to talk to the people at Unison,” as if they were giving us top secret stock tips. We have admired the level of design coming from Unison from afar, but it took Liz Collins, mentor, artist and former classmate of Unison Co-Founder Robert Segal, to give us the moxie to make contact. Eventually we hosted the team here to The Weaving Mill to geek out and talk weaving. Several months later, when Unison Production Designer Erica Lubetsky proposed this collaboration, we were beyond excited.

Shop the Unison x The Weaving Mill Throw Blanket here


Have you partnered with other brands before? If so, which one(s)?

We are working in 3 realms right now: we do our own projects (TWM Projects), which are single-run editions of textile objects. We have done 3 of these projects so far (100 Blankets, VA! Jackets, and A Very Big Blanket) and have more coming up. We also work with artists to do more experimental yardage—this involves a process of collaborative sampling and really thinking about how to push the possibilities of our looms. We are currently working with Portland artist Sarah Wertzberger on a project, as well as Providence artist Jungil Hong. We do collaborative design and production work with other businesses—we have done projects with print designer Rebecca Atwood, apparel designer Jamie Hayes and artist Nuria Montiel (for Jamie’s line Production Mode), and textile studio Herron.

What is next for The Weaving Mill?

We recently had an exhibition at Wheaton College and we are working on the next TWM project (Navajo churro wool blankets), and we have a couple of collaborations cooking. Sign up for The Weaving Mail!


Our New (Locally-made) Wallpaper Is In!

You’ve been asking for it. The wait is over. Our new locally-printed wallpaper comes in a range of blacks, whites, grays and metallics. The patterns – from tiny flecks to full-on grids – go with any living space. Put it up in eight easy steps and pick your level of intensity. What will it be? All four walls or just one for an accent?

Built around simple black, white and metallic grid patterns, our new wallpaper collection, designed by Unison co-founders Robert & Alicia, aims to be as versatile as it is easy on the eye. Just one more part of our ongoing commitment to simple, modern style.

Working with the team at Artisan Handprints is amazing. Having been in the business of hand printed wallpaper for more than 40 years, we knew their level of expertise was going to shine. It doesn’t hurt that they carry the Midwestern spirit of working hard while maintaining a high level of craftsmanship right here in our hometown of Chicago.

Gold paint

Our Lattice Gold Wallpaper uses the clear base and actual crushed metals to achieve the gold luster that shines on the matte black surface. Their solvent inks, also made in the USA, evaporate in the drying process, leaving only the color pigments behind.

The team at Artisan Handprints is incredible. For each design, the paper is set up and then the ink is poured by hand on the screen. Each 30 feet of wallpaper is printed within a matter of minutes while the paper is fed under the screen and then dried before rolling up. This company is a perfect example of using industry standard technology and equipment alongside old fashioned printing techniques that have stood the test of time. That is just one of the many reasons why we chose this collaboration.

Already purchased Unison wallpaper? Are you curious if you can really do this yourself? Watch our simple step-by-step video on how to hang it.


A Decade of Unison

It was 10 years ago this May that Unison first sprung to life with our first bedding and pillow collections. It was the start of what clearly became an everlasting passion for creating minimal and modern home textiles.


As Unison has grown, we’ve been so fortunate to share our vision of modern design with several Chicago artists and designers who we consider as friends. Along with the talents of our amazing staff, their dedication, skill and drive had made Unison what is today and for years to come.


It’s going to be a special year. We’re celebrating it with new product offerings, promotions and plenty of reflections on where our interest lies: timeless modern design made consciously and with heart.


We are so grateful for all our customers and fans who have supported us over this decade and also to those that are just coming to know us.

Let the celebration begin!

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Robert & Alicia


At Home with Chicago Artist Stephen Eichhorn

Part of summer fun at Unison is collaborating with artists and designers we admire. One of our favorites is Stephen Eichhorn, a School of The Art Institute of Chicago grad known for impactful sculpture and collage work. (Maybe you remember him from our Aerial and Flower Burst patterns?)


For the hot season ahead, Stephen has dreamed up beautiful orchid bedding, a cactus beach towel and cactus round trays. So, consider your summer napping, sun seeking and entertaining covered!

We caught up with Stephen at his Logan Square home, which he shares with his wife, two toy poodles and cat. It’s an 1890s greystone two-flat, with studio space on the bottom floor. Here’s a glimpse into his stylish environs and reflections on art and design.


Unison: Do you have any “rules” you follow for designing and decorating your own pad? What catches your eye?

Stephen: In the studio I like to have a functional aesthetic (work tables, etc.) but warm aesthetic (oriental rugs, etc) in terms of designing the space – – ultimately it’s a work space within a house. On the second floor we tend toward the more timeless design aesthetic of Mid Century Modern. Due to our more open floor plan, the kitchen is a major component within our living space. We worked closely with Robert McAdams and Jon Martin of Land and Sea to design a space that combines form and function using walnut, steel and marble.


Unison: How does the Unison style jive with your own style, both personal and decor?

Stephen: It mirrors our affinity to clean lines, mixed patterns and a variety of textures.

Unison: What are your three favorite things in your home and why?

Stephen: This tapestry by Kustaa Saski, it hangs at the landing of our stairs and I pause almost every day and find new things within the piece. I have one of the Aerial ottomans down in my studio from when I first started collaborating with Unison – – both poodles absolutely love to perch and nap on it while I work. I start most (if not all) of my collage work sitting at my Eames case study desk from Herman Miller. It has been with me in various studios/ living situations since I graduated school.


Unison: If you moved into a new place, what would be the first thing you did to decorate?

Stephen: I would start by placing the furniture and move directly into hanging our art collection. After two years in our current house I’m still occasionally hanging works here and there.


Unison: How long have you been doing what you do?

Stephen: I’ve been making collages and sculpture for the past 10 years. Most of the sculptural work is derived from my collage work and from when my wife and I made jewelry as a side project years ago. I took some of the technical skills and materials from jewelry making and integrated them into my sculptural practice. My sculptural practice is another vehicle for me to visually communicate through. Most of my sculptures are composed of fake plastic flowers and jewelry components from the ’70s-’80s coated in a mixture of graphite and gloss medium varnish. The sculptural work is a pretty time consuming process that is very repetitious.

There is also a jewelry making portion that involves a lot of hand work and coating in black graphite mixture. There’s a lot of similarities between collage and sculpture, at least when it comes to the making process. Both are found component based that I manipulate in the studio and both have the same dark beauty that most of my work has.


Unison: What are you interests, outside of art and design?

Stephen: Gardening has become a major interest – – especially now that it’s warming up! It has been so rewarding redesigning and working on both the front and back yard green space.

Unison: Where do you go for inspiration?

Stephen: Recently discovered the Caldwell Lily Pond, it’s an amazing oasis between the city and the lake. I was reminded of all the great things Chicago has to offer and am pleasantly surprised to find new treasures after living here for 13 years.

CactusTowelandTray2 copy

Unison: Let’s talk about the exciting projects you did with us for summer.

Stephen: All the various works for the summer pieces originate as hand-cut collages. One of the great aspects of this collaboration is that, while I am not a designer, I’m able to hand off the collages to {Unison co-founders} Robert and Alicia, who translate them into designed objects. Through our fluid design conversations I’m fortunate to see their vision actualize and I am always stunned with the resulting pieces.

Unison: Any exciting summer plans in store for you?

Stephen: I have two solo shows in the fall and another in the winter so I’m excited to work on several new breadths of work.

September at  Drawing room

October at Johalla Projects

January at Franklin Park Conservatory

Thanks, Stephen! And to all of you Unison fans, check out his summer designs here — perfect for welcoming those golden rays.