The story of Design Kist is an almost textbook definition of a happy accident. Onse Kristen actually ended up studying textile design on a last-minute whim, and it’s lucky for us that she did! Design Kist is a treasure chest of gorgeous things with a uniquely Mzansi flavour - and Kristen herself is no different.
Shown about from top left: Egoli Wallpaper, Shweshwe Mossies Wallpaper, Kudus Wallpaper, Bunnies Wallpaper, Zoo Biscuit Cushion Cover, Sheshwe Hearts Wallpaper, Muizenberg Huts Wallpaper, TV Pattern Wallpaper, Dino Zoo Wallpaper, Dotted Hearts Wallpaper, Clouds Wallpaper, South African Alphabet Wallpaper
- Hello Kristen! So, how did you land up doing what you do?
Hello Pretty! :) I’m a textile designer and “owner person” at Design Kist - a Cape Town based surface and textile design studio. I ended up studying textile design on a spontaneous whim when I was 18 (Ed. note: The afternoon that applications closed - cutting it fine!), and within a week I had started classes at CPUT.
- "Owner person" is an awesome title. We should totally get that on our business cards. Tell us about the wonderful things Design Kist makes!
We make designer wallpaper, fabric, and digital surface patterns with a uniquely “Mzansi” flavour. Many of the designs start out as hand-drawn sketches, or motifs/images from our handpicked selection of SA designers, which are then translated into seamless patterns to print onto wallpapers and fabrics. This collaborations has resulted in a series of designs with different “handwritings” that still retain a distinct “Design Kist” feel.
Another special factor is that our products are printed to order, with all printing done locally. Due to the bespoke nature of our products, in most cases we can tweak, recolour and customise to ensure that the product is perfectly tailored to suit our clients’ needs before we print.
- Even a quick look at the Design Kist collection shows a lot of different influences, or “handwritings”. Is there anything in particular that inspires you?
There are many Capetonian designers I find inspiring. Right up there are Heather Moore of Skinny laMinx; Jesse Breytenbach of Jezze Prints (Ed. note: Holler, Henri Kuikens!); and Wendren Setzer, owner of The Wren Design (and a former classmate). Watching their creative businesses evolve gave me the confidence to quit my job as a salaried textile designer. I wanted to design in my own name, and create on my own terms, and these women showed me that it was possible. As for my favourite things - right up there are coffee, black ink fineliners, my camera, and books - anything that stimulates/facilitates creativity!
- With so much inspiration out there, you must be keeping busy! What’s coming up for Design Kist?
Most of our designs emerge quite intuitively, and as such we try not to adhere to too much of a timetable. Saying that, we’ve been brewing a collection of fresh and vibrant spring florals, which we released on the first day of spring!
- You have great hair, by the way.
Why thank you! Five words: Lionel Kim on Buitenkant Street. I met him while dropping off wallpaper samples for a client across the street from my studio. He took one look at my hair, gave me his card, and the rest is history! He actually inspired a soon-to-be-released “scissors” print - just goes to show, inspiration is everywhere!