SARA SANTAMARIA AND ALLIE BASHUK
Partners, Brutal Studio
STORY: Muriel Vega
If you visited multi-use development Atlantic Station sometime this spring, you most likely spotted a large, floral throne welcoming the perfect Instagram opportunity. The installation, decorated with various colorful flowers and moss, and with enough space for two, was the brainchild of design and installation company Brutal Studio.
The female-owned outfit, whose mobile studio often sprouts at the Goat Farm, came together as a lucky encounter in 2015 when event designer Allie Bashuk, who previously worked with the Goat Farm and Scoutmob, needed assistance with arts nonprofit WonderRoot’s event, WonderNight. Bashuk invited artists Danielle Brutto and Sara Santamaria to bring the evening to life. They clicked over their creative processes and decided to fill the gap in outside the box event design in 2016.
“Our name was inspired by Brutalist architecture,” says Santamaria. “We all looked up to the bold, brash and confrontational buildings from Brutalism, and took it as a reference for a company of builder-girls designing and constructing from raw materials.”
Since then, the team has kept busy executing experimental installations, always tapping into the local arts scene to ignite collaborations with artists. One of their biggest projects included a commissioned float for the Atlanta Pride Parade, complete with rainbow-patterned foam pool noodle installations and metallic textures, in partnership with MailChimp and Wussy magazine.
Another eye-catching project included fruit-filled headgear and costumes for a 250-person wedding at the Goat Farm. Most recently, the Christmas spirit was brought to life with several installations at Miracle Bar, two holiday-themed pop-up bars in Midtown and Buckhead. The project included a sea of Santas and plush snowman toys, tons of silver streamers and hundreds of rolls of wrapping paper.
“Every project has been such a learning curve. We are getting better and more refined with each project,” says Santamaria. “We mostly get approached for projects, and we decide as a team whether or not it’s a good fit. We get the freedom to be more picky with our projects.”
When choosing a project, the team looks beyond timeline and budget and prioritizes creative freedom. They also make sure it’s a good fit for their skills. With a penchant for nature, the team gravitates toward organic materials such as plants and flowers.
While Brutto has moved to New York City to acquire further business opportunities, Bashuk and Santamaria are holding down the fort in Atlanta—Sara lives in East Atlanta Village, and Allie in Grant Park— playing to their strengths.
“We don’t have set roles or positions, but rather have our strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the project, we naturally take on the necessary roles,” says Santamaria. “Allie handles a lot of communication and logistics, and I’m really great at design and execution. Together we are a great team.”
Brutal Studio is already gearing up for upcoming projects this summer, including local startup CallRail’s Atlanta Pride Parade float, while keeping their schedule open for one-of-a-kind opportunities to flex their muscles within Atlanta’s art community.