Stefan Gulassa's History

Growing up as the youngest among six siblings in the artistic haven of 1970s and 80s Oakland, my childhood was a magical mixture of chaos and creativity. From an experimental public art-centered school to a home in constant transformation, my family’s artistic pursuits were my foundation.

Stefan working with wax for bronze casting
Family photo circa late 70's. Stefan is 2nd from right.
Painting a mural in the family dining room
Some pages from my travel journals
Getting a delivery of building materials in Tunisia

My parents, both creatively inclined, set the stage for my artistic journey. My father, was a professor of creative writing and an avid photography enthusiast, and my mother, a versatile force in illustration, painting, product design, interiors, ceramics, color consulting, and gardening, created a dynamic environment. This backdrop, coupled with lessons like getting paid for my artistic endeavors at the age of 6, ingrained in me the value of art.

In the basement workshop, I tinkered with projects, once creating a light fixture with a thermostat’s mercury switch, by changing the light’s position it turned on or off. My father taught me photography from the camera to the darkroom to more expansive concepts about capturing light. Photography, a skill I carry with me to document my travels, my work as well as the creative process.

Freelancing for my siblings, who excelled in fashion design, print design, toy design, and furniture design, enriched my teenage years. We were and still are a tight-knit family of creators communicating in the language of ideas and inspiration.

Earning enough through freelancing, I spent a transformative year backpacking in Europe, keeping extensive journals of my travels. Settling in Paris for the last three months, I attended a college abroad program to study art history.

With a better focus on life, I earned my BFA in Industrial Design from CCA in San Francisco. A year of glassblowing and metal arts, coupled with studies in industrial design, refined my skills.

Joining the Peace Corps in my mid-20s, I served in Tunisia, North Africa, where I built and lived in that house as an example to revitalize vernacular architecture. This experience blended historical concepts such as barrel vaults and breezeways with modern elements like skylights and eco-friendly design.

The house Stefan built in Tunisia while in the Peace Corps

Continuing to travel and live abroad for four more years, I explored West Africa, South East Asia, Nepal, New Zealand, South America, and Europe. Working for a film production company in Hungary added another layer to the adventures.

Returning stateside I began working for my brother David. He had started a design/build company back in the early 1980’s. He moved his shop from Oakland to Washington and grew from 2 employees to 35. Working closely with him as his assistant designer for three years was the equivalent of the ultimate master’s degree in manufacturing, materials, finishes, and design. We collaborated on designing a wide array of projects, spanning from architectural elements to lighting to finessing the design of furniture to inventing intricate custom hardware. 

David (far right) enjoying the end of the day with the team
Stefan and David looking a lot alike just by chance

David taught me not just about Wabi Sabi, but how to see the beauty in unexpected materials, places and processes. Celebrate the hand of the craftsperson and let it be visible in the final piece. Enjoy the gifts of the process.

His passing in 2001 led me to take over as the principal designer for seven years, continuing his legacy.

In 2008, I founded Stefan Gulassa INC., Where I continue to celebrate the process, hold materials in high esteem and see with fresh eyes to find joy and beauty. I’m honored to collaborate with the extensive pool of craftspeople here in the Pacific Northwest, creating designs that illuminate both homes and lives.

Today, I reside in West Seattle near the beach, enjoying time with my wife, two kids, two cats and five dogs.

Stefan Gulassa INC

In 2008, I launched my own firm, Stefan Gulassa INC, based in Seattle, WA, where I design exceptional lighting, furniture, and accessory pieces.

I take a hands-on approach to my designing, seamlessly integrating drawing by hand, CAD, 3D modeling and 3D printing. Moreover, this idea generating is significantly enhanced by my practical “sketching” in the shop with materials like metal, wood, wax, and more. This blend of techniques not only enables but also encourages unexpected and innovative solutions.

 My work is rooted in a blend of principles: “Honesty to materials,” “Seeking the gifts from the process,” and “Finding joy in collaboration with craftspeople,” ultimately infusing each piece with a soul.

When working with architects, interior designers, or large companies, I always employ a client-focused approach, engaging in honest discussions, quick sketching, and focused problem-solving.

I transform ideas into reality, collaborating and delivering enjoyment in every project I undertake.

Lights for Holly Hunt at the foundry gettring preped for finish
Helios balance chandelier in the NY Holly Hunt Showroom