Behind the Scenes | Shay Spaniola

Owner of Bunglo

A world of vibrant landscapes inspires a local textile designer.


As a kid, Shay Spaniola sold her coloring-book creations on the playground for a quarter. By the time she reached high school, she had started doing a lot of painting by commission. “I needed to make more money to buy a car,” Spaniola says with a laugh. “And I was always trying to find creative ways to make more money.”

Born and raised in Detroit, Spaniola came to Austin to take a photojournalism job, but she never stopped painting. Her fine-art background eventually led to her current work in interior textile patterns with her design studio, Bunglo.

“I just loved the idea of working with someone’s home because they’re in it all the time, and the space you surround yourself in is how you’re going to feel, so if you have a finished, well put-together home, you’re going to feel that,” Spaniola explains. “It’s so important.”

Though she now focuses on interiors, she still dabbles in fine-art photography as well (her work is represented by a company in Los Angeles that handles her wholesale outreach and licensing). “I don’t do documentary work as much anymore,” Spaniola says. “Mostly I just love to do landscapes and really just focus on textiles.”

And Spaniola has seen her fair share of truly inspiring landscapes—she’s visited more than 35 countries, and often draws inspiration for her designs and pillows directly from the tableaux that she’s encountered while abroad.

“The collection I’m selling right now was inspired by India—I actually made this line in an ashram in northern India, so I’m designing everything to have come from that space, or out of that space,” Spaniola says. “I filled up 12 notebooks full of patterns, imported them into Photoshop, and then played with them, bringing hundreds of designs down to just 12 for the initial collection.”

At first, Spaniola had no idea that she wanted to do fabrics. “I just knew I loved home and making people feel good, creating a calm, meditative space. Eventually I started to look at patterns more as just texture and color, and I became less afraid to mix and match them. I found that was the successful combination.”

In an upcoming collection, Spaniola plans to incorporate more natural elements into her designs. “There’s a lot of brown to represent earth, and I’m starting to play with black, which I’ve never used,” she says. “Each piece feels like a different element, and when you combine all of them, you have balance in a room.”

Shay's Favorite Places

Chefchaouen, Morocco: “The whole city is blue! The streets, the buildings . . . the interiors. An ancient village built in the Rif mountains . . . wandering around, lost in the streets of Chfechaouen—truly the most inspiring moments of my whole life. If you want to live inside a painting, that's your place.”

Guanajuato, Mexico: “I love color, and so does this city. Pink, yellow, vibrant greens and royal blues—every house is another pixel in the landscape. Often in the U.S., I feel like we stray away from using vibrant colors; this city made me realize how we can go wild—it all goes together. This city has all-round good vibes.”

Zanzibar: “Endless white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, African steel drums in the background—a little piece of heaven on earth. Spending time off the coast of Tanzania gave me an eternal smile.”


Photography by Daniel Brock

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