As I’m rifling through designer Krista Power’s colourful samples of whimsical patterns displayed throughout her downtown St. John’s studio, I’m feeling nostalgic. I flash back to my grandmother’s kitchen table where I’m eating homemade bread with molasses, surrounded by a comforting motif of faded floral wallpaper that tactfully, or perhaps tackily, complements the floral chair cushions. Power’s designs evoke memories of a time when walls and upholstered furniture were covered with bold and textured patterns. Her designs are modern and meticulous with just a subtle vintage vibe, and make no mistake, Power’s wallpaper samples aren’t your typical nan patterns.
An award-winning graphic designer and illustrator based in St. John’s, Krista is best known for her work in the music industry. For the last five years she’s been designing album covers, concert posters, and promoting shows with Mighty Pop, a concert promotion company she co-founded with her partner and fellow graphic designer Jud Haynes. But lately, Krista has found her niche as a surface designer, and she’s helping people personalize and style their homes with her unique patterns.
Surface design is everywhere you look. It’s textile-inspired art, and the canvas is anything that has a surface. So, think furniture, bed linens, upholstery, dishware, drapery, walls etc. Krista says her love for surface design was inspired by her childhood home. “As a child, my imagination would run wild, making up my own narratives, lost in the imagery in the wallpaper and bed sheets,” Krista says. “Later in high school, I’d keep entertained by drawing patterns on my books, hands and arms — temporary tattoos of suns, moons and stars, or yin-yangs, all the things a teenage girl would find cool in the ’90s. Later, I’d discover William Morris, a 19th-century master of the decorative arts and his work would spark something deeper.”
Creativity and design concepts come naturally to Krista, who spent 10 years working as a hair stylist before breaking into the world of graphic art. “I specialized as a colourist and whether I was changing someone’s hair colour to complement their skin, accentuate their eyes, or creating edgy and expressive looks, there was no doubt how transformative colour could be,” she says. She may not have realized it at the time, but it was during her career as a hair stylist that Krista began surface design. “A favourite client requested leopard-print pattern onto her buzzed hair. We had so much fun and she would come in every so many weeks to maintain this custom look.”
From buzzed hair to interior walls and furniture, Krista has found her passion in the creation of fun and exciting patterns. “This is what I’m so excited about. This is what I can’t wait to get up and work on. When I go to sleep I wake up with a new idea for a pattern,” she says. “When I’m walking, I see things and think, that would make an excellent pattern: the way the snow is falling on the dogberry trees. I’m constantly thinking about what would be beautiful to capture in a pattern. I feel like that’s where I found myself, as a designer.”
Motivated by memories of playful patterns and master surface designers that influenced and guided the genre, Krista is now focused on turning her sketches into repeating patterns. Her favourite surface to work on? Interior walls. “I love wallpaper. I love the texture of it,” she says. “I just love the liveliness of it. I feel like you’re drawn into another world when you see a pattern on the wall.”
Krista’s patterns are inspired by her environment, and local wildlife and flora often serve as the backdrop for her designs. The “Beneath the Canopy” collection features a pitcher plant design that has become her top seller. It can be seen on upholstered furniture in one of St. John’s trendiest restaurants,
Mallard Cottage, as well as on journals and notebooks sold at downtown fashion retailer Twisted Sister.
Krista says she loves designing art that reflects the client’s personal style. “A lot of graphic design is a solution to what somebody else needs, so I like the idea of someone saying, ‘I’d really love to have something in this colour.’ I can customize it for the client.” Krista says for her, 2018 will be all about surface design and she’s looking forward to unveiling her newest patterns. “There is always something new to discover in a pattern,” she says. “I like that it has a bit of a narrative and tells a story in a way, but it’s background so you don’t always see it right away. It’s a conversation piece.”
Krista Power’s designs can be seen at www.kristapower.com
This article by Amy Stoodley first appeared in the Spring, 2018 print issue of Home & Cabin