One of the companies that deserve some major credit for the resurgence of wallpaper is Hygge & West, a home goods brand known for creating bold and beautiful wallpaper designs. Here at Schoolhouse, we've recently had the chance to experience the transformative power of pattern while collaborating on our first-ever wallpaper collection with their talented team.
And today, we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to one of the creative powerhouses over at H&W – graphic designer and creative director Ola Supernat. Based in Portland, Ola also happens to be the artist behind our Alpine Garden, Cascade Meadow, and Olive Grove wallpaper designs. Inspired by the abundant flora of the Pacific Northwest, she uses vibrant color and whimsical shapes to create elegant and illustrative one-of-a-kind prints. We spent some time with Ola (and her absurdly cute feline friend) to learn more about her creative beginnings, design inspiration, and how she practices hygge at home.
Tell us about your background! Have you always been drawn to the arts?
My background is in graphic design. I entered the field a bit by accident. I was majoring in art, and graphic design was part of my curriculum. I was instantly drawn to its combination of aesthetic and purpose.
When I was little, I could spend countless hours sitting in my room drawing (colored pencils were my medium of choice). I am working on getting back to my childhood mindset of creating art purely for the sake of the joy that it brings. Also, our walls need more art!
Could you share a bit more about the inspiration behind your wallpaper designs for Schoolhouse?
I love being in nature and nature-inspired art. I could draw flowers all day long, and I was thrilled about the opportunity to create these patterns for Schoolhouse. My two wildflower patterns (Alpine Garden and Cascade Meadow) were inspired by the beauty I have encountered on my hikes throughout the Pacific Northwest. It's sort of a collage of various meadows and prairies. Olive Grove is about creating an ultra-lush yet soothing scene where the layout draws on vintage wallpaper patterns but with a modern touch.
Ola's initial illustrations for Cascade Meadow
Once you have a basic idea in mind, what’s next? What does your creative process look like?
My process varies a lot! For this collection, keeping the hand-drawn look was very important. For Alpine Garden, I started by loosely drawing flower forms in a repeat pattern — interspersed clumps of large, small, dense, and airy flora. From there, I scanned in the sketch and redrew everything with my pen tablet. This allowed me to tweak and move individual elements and add new ones (for example, the grass was added at the very end).
Alpine Garden in Multi
Once I was happy with the overall forms, I printed out each section and hand-drew everything again (this time knowing exactly what the art needed to look like to fit together well). I drew each flower three to thirty times — I wanted to get them just right. After digitizing one more time, I added color blocking to several flowers and grass for the "multi" version.
Olive Grove illustrations
For Olive Grove, I knew the underlying framework needed to have a beautiful flow. I started by figuring out the layout for the branches on the computer, so that I could easily preview what the pattern would look like. Next, I drew the solid leaf and olive shapes and arranged them around the branches. Once I was happy with everything, I printed out the repeat very lightly, and hand-painted over the shapes, adding shading to the leaves and branches.
Cascade Meadow in Primary
For Cascade Meadow, I started by creating a repeat on the computer with general flower shapes. I wanted the layout to feel graphic — playing with movement created by specific arrangements of flowers of different shapes and sizes. After narrowing down which types of plants I wanted to include in the design, I painted the motifs by hand. Next, I digitized the art and worked out the final layout on the computer.
In your opinion, how does color and pattern in wallpaper impact how we experience a space?
Wallpaper is so transformative! Based on pattern, color, and scale, it can go from calming to energizing, moody to playful. The same design in different colorways can evoke completely opposite feelings. What pattern should always do, though, is make you happy.
Do you have a design (or life) philosophy you live by?
Currently, it is, “Do what makes you happy.” Our decor used to consist primarily of neutrals and grays. As we spent so much time at home last year, I realized I needed more color in my day-to-day to keep my spirits up. Everything I brought into our home within the past year has bold color and design.
Do what makes you happy.
Nature clearly plays a key role in your wallpaper designs! Do you have any favorite parks or walks that inspire you?
Too many to mention. I get inspired fairly easily — there is so much beauty in the world! We love visiting parks and gardens wherever we go. I often reminisce of my visit to Hameau de la Reine, an idyllic meadow and fruit orchard built for Marie Antoinette in Versailles. Another favorite spot is the Colclough Walled Garden in Ireland (or really, anywhere my sister takes me when I visit her in Dublin). Closer to home, I find that exploring my neighborhood simply by walking down new streets is plenty inspirational, especially now that all of Portland is blooming.
What are some ways you practice hygge in your own life?
Cuddling with our cat, The General (when he feels like it); neighborhood walks with my fiancée, Deke (when he feels like it!); drinking hot cocoa in the breakfast nook we just finished building; catching up on audiobooks and magazines surrounded by my favorite pillows; weekly video calls with friends and my family in Europe.
We have to ask, has The General made any appearances in your work?
So far, only once. Deke and I are seriously considering getting an oil painting of him though!
Editor's note: we just discovered that The General has an Instagram, @thegeneralkitten, and we're obsessed.
Finally, what’s one thing you’ve come to appreciate about being at home so much this year?