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Plunge Isn’t Just a Towel — It’s Wearable Art

The accessories company's founder, Jessica Thornton Murphy, celebrates San Francisco artists with playful items inspired by the area's light and landscape.

A photograph of Plunge Towels Shop at Plunge



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A TOWEL IS not the first place you might look to find art. But Plunge, a wearable art business based in San Francisco, has partnered with up-and-coming artists on limited-edition towels, blankets, and other accessories to striking effect. Once a haven for artists, the city by the bay has seen a decline in their numbers and creative outlets as the cost of living rises. Plunge founder Jessica Thornton Murphy, a designer herself, is seeking to celebrate and support the art community by commissioning patterns from independent artists in the area and hosting shows featuring artists who have collaborated with her company.

Plunge’s 100% cotton towels are jacquard-woven by one of the last remaining U.S. manufacturers still using the Jacquard loom, invented in 1804. Only available in limited quantities, the attractive designs are conversation starters and collectibles. The hand-towel pattern, designed by Thornton Murphy herself, is always on display at my house. Hands of all shapes and sizes are outlined against a sage, prairie-green background, bringing a color and personality to my otherwise dull outdoor furniture.



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The collection’s other artists include San Francisco-based Annie Duncan, whose playful towel designs epitomize summer: Large, scrumptious cherries set against a blue-and-white background and white daisies overlaying yellowish-orange are inspired by the Bay Area’s light, landscape, and colors.

Along with beach accessories, Plunge sells other items ranging from adorable seahorse- and beach ball-shaped candles, designed by New York City artist Janie Korn, to upcycled terry-cloth shorts and cotton canvas bucket hats. While many artists may have been pushed out of the Bay Area, for those who remain, the Plunge line feels like a cheerful act of resistance.



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Our Contributors

Elissa Polls Writer

Elissa Polls is the head of production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.

Peter Langer Photographer

Working between Paris and Berlin, Peter Langer focuses on narrative still-life photography, crafting incredible textures with collage and creative layering. He has published two books of his work and had art exhibitions in both the U.S. and Europe. His work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue China, and Wallpaper.

Departures and American Express do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any of the items, and the sale of such items is governed by the third-party seller’s policies, terms, and conditions.

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