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An artistic collaborative of artists, designers, makers and craftsmen focused on the creation of unique experiences and conceptual environments.  Building moments to be explored and remembered through the conception and creation of custom art installations, interior design, events, set design, styling & visual merchandising.

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Filtering by Category: All Things Design

Gettin Our Street Art On!

Nikole Nelson

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We started the New Year off with a bang, beautifying New Balance's Corporate headquarters in Boston. Street art techniques were used in their stairwells to showcase vintage and modern NB athlete prints. We installed, aged and texured them, bringing to life a rich surface treatment that emphasized the restored brick architecture. Cheers to another successful project highlighting the rich history of the NB legacy.

Michele Varian: K/LLER JEWELRY

Nikole Nelson

K/LLER JEWELRY

I woke up this morning to a glorious reminder that my favorite Soho boutique, Michele Varian, is having a trunk show of K/ller Jewelry. Talk about craftsmanship and design! These peices are gorgeous examples of rock-n-roll meeting the chic city vibe. Add this one to my Christmas list! If you haven't visited Michele's store give yourself a treat - the home decor options, overall interior design and energy of the space are truly fantastic! I never leave empy handed.

The Art of Surf Photography

Nikole Nelson

Trent Mitchell Photography

LIFE Magazine Archives via SECRETFORTS

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Brian Bielmann Photography

The foundation of my appreciation for photography was rooted within the pages of my Dad’s Surfer magazines at age 6. From the first moment I saw the beauty of the ocean I loved captured in photographic perfection I was transfixed. Growing up on the beaches of Hawaii and California the surf culture was at the heart life. I have vivid high school memories of my friend Monika helping me plaster my room with surf posters - my teenage version of art appreciation.

For those who live for the sound of the crashing waves you know it is not just about the end result. I have hiked through extremely rural areas, clinging to cliffs just to watch surfing and be close to the energy. Surf photography goes beyond the ride capturing the journey and stillness of nature and mans commune.

These photographers have such passion for their discipline they are often in life threatening situations waiting to immortalize the perfect wave. Of course there is no risk of drowning standing shore side with a telephoto lens, but the surf photographer’s job description does not stop there. Using watertight photography equipment they slip into fins and wetsuits, dive in and position themselves just above water level, close to the impact zone of the wave - ouch. Other techniques involve board-mounted cameras, boats, outriggers, canoes, jet skies and even helicopters. Sounds like a fun day at the office!

Junkin' in PA

Nikole Nelson

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Some trips are legendary and the Junkin' in PA caravan was one of them. On board was Susan and William Brinson of House of Brinson, Michelle Carangi from Holley & Gill, Interiors guru Jonathan Legate and one sexy Greek...James Karabelas.

There is nothing that makes me more elated than treasure hunting in a rickety old barn. Add a group of talented, knowledgeable design friends and magic is born! Susan and Jonathan are antiquing geniuses; every foreign object I discovered they would instantly have a description of its original use, time period and worth. It was like being on one of those antiquing road shows!

Of course no barn adventure can be complete without the discovery of family secrets, grandmas racey media and "exercise" equipment and a few stray rodents. You take the good with the "So did NOT want to see that" and in the end you have a stash of beautiful finds.

My favorite purchase of the day was an antique refrigerator box that can hang on the wall. The best part - it's the perfect size to house all my saws! It's going to be an awesome addition to the studio. Special thanks to William and Susan for organizing the best Saturday ever.

Check the story out in full at House of Brinson. Enjoy!

House of Brinson: Custom Color Love

Nikole Nelson

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I recently had the honor of helping the dynamic power couple and design duo of House of Brinson, Susan and William Brinson, create a custom color for their NYC loft. The Brinson’s loft is not only used as a home, but as an event space and functioning photography studio for William. Every layer of the design is carefully pieced into a harmonious composition and my goal was to ensure that their bedroom color aligned with their richly detailed aesthetic.

Susan had expressed her fear of color to me over the years and as a lover of rich hues and vibrant pigments I accepted the challenge. Commence with the custom color lovin! It is rare that a color produced by any given paint company is spot-on. If you've ever found yourself staring at rows of endless paint swatches wishing the tones were a bit lighter, dark, redder, etc. you most certainly can benefit from the custom color process.Color should be a direct reflection of personality and hold the energy of the emotion you wish to experience.  When in a residential environment, the perfect color becomes essential, as you will be living with it, day in and day out.

We started with a color palette the couple found interesting and added various pigments to create new hues. I always prefer to have the client participate in this experience with verbal feedback as the colors are created. It allows them to narrate the development, see the process and own the end result.

For more on the House of Brinson loft check out their sneak peak feature on Design Sponge. I must also take a minute to give a shout out to Susan's sexy graphic design skills; I'm in LOVE with her Gangsta Greeting Cards. That's right! I said Gangsta! You will quickly become a fan.

Ode to Opera, Wings and All Things Leventi

Nikole Nelson

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Curtain, Palais Garnier, Paris, France, 2009Palais Garnier, Paris, France, 2009Amargosa Opera House, Death Valley Junction, California, 2009Romanian Athenaeum, Bucharest, Romania, 2007Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona, Spain, 2009TWA Flight Center by Eero Sarrinen

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Photographer David Leventi

If you are an artist, designer or creative like myself, you will understand that there is a feeling which drives us. The moment you begin creating, you see lines converge into compositions and designs form, the visual projections of what our mind is capable of creating. You own it. You feel it. You bring it into reality.

May I introduce photographer David Leventi. At center stage, camera perched at attention, the air thick with the voices of history, his mind races. With the view of an opera singer, he takes in the mass beauty, painted trompe l’oeil ceilings, private boxes and repetition of chairs an audience would fill. Richly draped fabrics tower above his head, the chandelier glows, and architectural acoustic perfection echoes.

He wants it all. His photo will surround you, revealing all levels of the space, catching what the naked eye is unable to. His lenses focused, the photographic beauty begins.

Leventi explains, “…the light in the opera house strikes each of these features and returns to the camera, affixing them to film. Lit solely by the existing chandeliers and lamps…” The collection: Bjoerling’s Larynx, records the interiors of 40 world-famous opera houses in Europe and the Americas.

Recently, Leventi photographed the renovation of the TWA Flight Center by Eero Sarrinen at JFK. The images were featured in the New York Times Magazine. I immediately recognized David’s architectural perspective reflected in the textures of the structures concrete and the images’ all-encompassing feel.

Leventi portrayed the experience for me: “I can't begin to describe what it was like to stand in his futuristic masterpiece alone. It reminded me of a chapel to air travel. I knew that the building had been photographed by many photographers in the past, but I wanted to do something unique. The pictures that The New York Times Magazine published are interesting because they show the texture of the tile within an emblematic shot of the space. It's a two for one deal!” 

Heads-up Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando, and architects of the world - If you’ve got something grand, this man should be photographing it. His work is breathtaking.

Tom Dixon

Nikole Nelson

Tom Dixon With Milan Design Week quickly approaching I find myself more pumped with anticipation everyday. British designer, Tom Dixon's seductive lighting will be exhibited at the Salone next month showcasing the sleek lines and reflective brilliance of his works. The metals sculpted to perfection would steal the scene of any interior space; they are essentially functional works of art. As a set designer and stylist I must take a moment to give Dixon credit for his fantastic product shots. Each tells a deeper story capturing the luminaries surroundings, photographer, studio...it's like a behind the scenes peek within each image. Truly gorgeous!
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Beauty and Essex

Nikole Nelson

Interior Design by AvroKO With over 20,000 restaurants to choose from in New York City it is rare that I dine out and am still thinking about it a week later. Beauty and Essex is an experience from start to finish. In chic New York fashion you enter the Lower East side location through what appears to be a pawnshop; an odd start to a night out in heels. As the backdoor parts an interior design gem strikes you with the full force of its elegance. Fur lined walls wrap the curve of the staircase, taking all your will power not to caress them as you pass the elongated glowing pink chandelier. Every layer of the design is seamless, the food FABULOUS (I highly recommend the lobster tacos) and in the ladies lounge there is a free champagne bar! Beauty and Essex has risen to the top of my list for all things decadent and delicious. I can't wait to go back! See you there.
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Project Rental

Nikole Nelson

Where do you find your inspiration? Give me an old dusty warehouse, peeling paint, city street grime, a construction site garbage bin, a farm with weathered wood structures, a simple walk on the beach, or hike through nature and I dive into the visual. This is when I realize I will never be ordinary; normal girls don't seek out junkyards and industrial factories to hunt for treasure or spend hours obsessing over the growth pattern of moss covered tree trunks. Then again normality does not usually encompass finding more joy in a new table saw than a sweet piece of jewelry. Thanks Dad! So what is Project Rental? An opportunity for me to design, sculpt, paint and fabricate my little heart out. It’s essentially a platform for self-expression. Brings me back to my hippy artist days, working the gallery circuit in Maui, except now the pieces are for rent. After multiple requests from industry leading stylists and photographers, I've decided to go for it! This week marks the production launch of Project Rental where I'll be fabricating over 25 backdrops seeped in the textures and colors of my inspirations. It’s just the beginning of course. Stay tuned for fabulousness!
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And The Winner Is...

Nikole Nelson

The wall that stole my heart! Lionel Logue's treatment office.Concept sketch by production designer Eve Stewart.Lionel Logue played by Geoffrey Rush. Logue's office at the end of the movie. The rich metallic prints indicate Logue moving up in status.King George VI played by Colin Firth. Intimately draped velvety patterns frame the moment of triumph.Queen Elizabeth played by Helena Bonham Carter. What kind of set designer would I be if I did not make my pre-Oscar prediction for best Art Direction of 2010? Drum roll please…and the winner is…production designer Eve Stewart and set decorator Judy Farr for The Kings Speech! I’m sure the world over has seen this magnificent film by now, just in case you were swallowed up in the trenches of life, here is a visual summary. Elegant textures of dilapidation and grandly scaled bold period print wallpapers were created with a minimal budget and an eye for seeing beauty where others saw decay. Stewart’s concept sketch below was drafted moments after visiting 33 Portland Place, the location used for shooting the royal residences of George VI (Colin Firth) and the home of his therapist and friend, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Stewart mimicked existing wall conditions in the room to be used as Logue’s treatment office; peeling wallpaper, water damage and burnt surface areas visually sparked inspiration in the designer. A girl after my own heart! In my world, grime and demolition material are sets waiting to happen. Collaborating with set decorator Judy Farr, Stewart had the textures replicated throughout the room and the impact was powerful. As Logue’s office wall filled up the big screen I gasped aloud; its not romance that makes me swoon but set design! Well done ladies, I’m rooting for you!
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