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Honolulu, Hawaii
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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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BFG'S Art Kids

Nikole Nelson

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Photograph by Jeff HarrisDesign development and construction drawings.

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Casting plaster bases.

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Custom fabricated steel desktop by 2nd story wood

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On the hunt for a vintage office chair.

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A total of 3000 sharpies were used in the sculpture.

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Installation day.

Photography by Jeff Harris

Do we ever really outgrow the thrill of a wall of unlimited markers begging to be scribbled on a massive blank canvas? As designers we will never stop reaching for pen and paper. We will never stop doodling, sketching, releasing the insanity and brilliance that makes us unique. When an idea strikes, it is a craving that needs to be immediately satisfied. Paper. Markers. The hand flies. We are and always will be "the art kids".

Nikole Nelson Studios, a new york based collaborative of artists, designers, and makers, tackled the creation of the BFG communications reception for their new Soho, NYC office.

Nelson developed the "art kids" concept after interviewing BFG’s creatives at their headquarters in South Carolina and New York. Researching and dissecting their individual design processes, she dove into their childhood and art kid dreams. When did it all start; and had it changed much? Nelson’s sculpture focuses on the diverse elements that make up the company – the 90 creative minds of BFG’s design team.  What sparks the initial stage and layers within their work? It begins with the simplest of tools - a marker, paper - and becomes a global marketing platform for Warner Brothers, Captain Morgan, Coca Cola and beyond.

Over 3000 sharpies, all functioning, created a wall of possibilities. Nelson used the individual marker colors to emulate pixels or mosaic tiles – each contributing to the visual movement of the sculpture.

Stacks of carved paper climb the walls blending into a gorgeous gray scale. Plaster cast bases emulate the concrete streets of the city buzzing below. A roll of industrial butcher paper begs to be tagged with spur of the moment creative visions. It is art that functions, turning from installation to reception desk. An interactive piece that engages the staff and visitors to participate first hand in BFG’s creative process.

Adding another layer of the personal, Nelson incorporated illustrations by BFG designer Ryan Kasal into the butcher paper roll and custom entry wallpaper.

“When you enter the space it's as if you’ve stepped within the mind of the BFG artist, the tools they fell in love with as kids and what continues to stimulate them today. It is essentially the experience of who they are.” Nikole Nelson

Written by Jennifer Tripp for Nikole Nelson Studios.

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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.

Behind the Scenes: Marathon Map Wall

Nikole Nelson

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Pre-demolition. Wall on the right (with the round mirror hanging up high) is to become our Marathon Map Wall!

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Test made using embossed plaster technique.

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Cutting the enlarged template down into manageable pieces for stamping.

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Photography by Conor Doherty

Behind the Scenes: Plaster and Patinas

Nikole Nelson

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Raw space post demolition.

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Having pulled an all-nighter, the plaster textured walls are looking quite dramatic!

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Close-up of textured plaster treatment.

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Perfectly patinaed garage doors!

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Pre-demolitian. Under those terrible pressed wood slats hide some gorgeous original garage doors just waiting to be discovered and brought to aged perfection!

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In-studio tests of various patina treatments on metal.

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Left: Initial demo of old flooring reveals original hexagonal penny tiles. Right: First layer of patina on floor letters.

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And voila!!

Photography by Conor Doherty

Behind the Scenes: Brick aging & wood panel build

Nikole Nelson

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Raw space with multiple brick facades at varying stages of aging and plywood blocking for wood panels. Liz takes a dust free breather.

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Pre-treated brick - it's a mess!

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It was insane how many different types of brick/stone there were in one space - 7 in total! The history and architecture revealed itself one layer at a time. A true challenge to merge the varieties in tone and aged appearance using mortar, paint and other tricks of the trade.

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While Liz and I were up high painting the brick, Jenny was hard at work mixing just the right shades of grey for us to keep the progress moving through the night.

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Completed brick tones!

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Sketch reflecting aged brick walls with intermittent wood panels on which to highlight merchandise.  And our sturdy, yet feminine hard hats.  We can be safe AND look hot!

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Measuring and designing the reclaimed wood plank patterns to be used for the large-scale wood panels.

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In the background are my collaborators Kirsten Marchand, NB Senior Store Planner and our talented carpenter Sal. 

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Sal refers to my printed template to ensure correct placement of each plank. He rocked AND he let me use his pneumatic nail gun to secure the final structure! Hot damn it was powerful! 

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I never tire of seeing the vision come to life!

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Behind the Scenes: NB Marathon Bib Wall Treatment

Nikole Nelson

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Raw space in construction.

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Design development tests done in-studio to create texture, plaster application process, depth and tones of final treatment.

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Creating large, on-site sample of bib texture based on studio tests.

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Painting embossed sample to accentuate texture and design detail.

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Final on-site sample to be used as guide for in store execution.

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Checking scale of bibs along top of brick walls... Plastering to begin over installed diamond lathe.

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Liz and Jenny prepping the silicone casts for embossing the plaster.

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Embossed plaster in progress!

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Checking temperature of plaster - when hot you know the magic is happening!

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Embossed plaster left overnight to cure completely before painting.

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Now that the plaster is dry, we begin painting to pull out the proper tones, creating depth and drama.

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Texture begins to visibly pop with final paint application.

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Collaboration is the key to dynamic success and this gorgeous store is no exception to the rule. New Balance Creative Director and brilliant mind Mark Keegan crafted and lead a team of designers, artists and makers, each experts in their given fields, to bring his retail vision to life. In tandem with NB Senior Store Designer Kirsten Marchand, our team manifested the essence of NB Excellence. Over the next few weeks we will bring you more behind the scenes action - diving into our entire project scope. It was both an honor and a privilege to be a part of this crazy-talented team on our SECOND New Balance Experience store! The players:

Design Mastermind: Mark Keegan, NB Creative Director

Interior Guru: Kirsten Marchand, NB Senior Store Planner

Graphic Design: Linda Loiewski, LX2

Silicone Plate Production & NB Neon Sign: IDL Worldwide

Artists and Makers: Nikole Nelson Studios (aka, hot construction chicks ;)

Photography: Conor Doherty

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Cowgirl up!

Nikole Nelson

Brilliant inspiration courtesy of Nachtstucke

Never room 4 average here. If you work with us, you experience excellence on the highest collaborative level possible. You will get dirty, you will work long tedious hours, you will bleed and then you will feel the overwhelming power of artistic creation and success. It's like running a marathon...the finish line is soooo close...can you taste it? 

Aloha Mural!

Nikole Nelson

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Our blank canvas: a 200 foot long concrete wall. This was once an equally unsightly chain link fence dividing the playground from a busy street. I believe I willed this wall into existence - I've always dreamed of painting a mural here and it manifested! 

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There was definite progress after the first couple of days. The sky was blocked in over the silhouetted mountains and the beginning layers of the dripped paint was completed by the 1st grade class. They really had some fun with it! 

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My awesome 8th grade team of assistants and our mascot, Makana!

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There are moments in one’s life where you see things come full circle and your path, with all of its crazy unexpected wild rides, appears as a seamless puzzle layered to perfection. I started my career as an artist at home in Lahaina in the comforts of familiar surroundings in a small bubble of protected love, friendship, community and devotion. Teaching at Sacred Hearts School was one of the most profound experiences of my life. It was there I found my confidence as a creator; it was there I was inspired daily by the gorgeous artwork and expression of 250 children whom I dearly loved; it was there my beloved mentor, friend and Hani mother Maryanna Waldrop handed me $500 to buy canvas, paint and brushes leaving me no more excuses to reach for my dreams; and it was also there that I was kicked out of the nest to spread my wings on the East Coast, reaching for the stars at Savannah College of Art and Design.

That was 15 years ago. You don’t realize how far you have traveled until you are standing on the same playground, with the same church bells ringing, echoed by children’s laughter and of course the ever present power of the same Sacred Hearts School powerhouse goddess-worthy women.  I began 2012 with this experience - returning home to teach once more, leading 200 students through a lesson of layers to both self-expression and the powerful understanding of true collaboration. Seeing their faces light up as they watched colors blend and drip down the wall was dynamic! I love to take kids out of the ordinary with art – remove the expected tools and limitations, the parameters of the edges of paper. Giving them a 240’ long canvas on which to discover a new dimension of what art can feel like is an experience they will carry through life. It changes their perception and teaches the most powerful lesson of all: It is not what you are seeing but how you are seeing it. It teaches them to see their surroundings with limitless vision and potential. It gives them freedom and that is a gift beyond measure.

What compounded the experience and the sense of time passing was that in addition to teaching this course I was reunited with one of my first students, a star artist of his own right, now a professional photographer John Carpenter. The last time I saw him he was a crazy little kid, creating colorful paintings deep with emotion.  Now he’s a man with a beard! Wild indeed! He captured the event beautifully AND jumped right in with the painting – reciting word for word things I had taught him about composition, line, movement, blending – he remembered it all! If you have ever been a teacher you know what this moment feels like, when you see the difference you’ve made. I am so proud of his accomplishments, drive and success.

Many thanks to the amazing students who joined me in inspired collaboration creating a lasting mural memory and to my beloved ohana SHS for all the love over the years. I am honored to be a part of the family.

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Photography by JMC Photography and Bonnie Blackmore.

In Store Craft: New Balance Features Nikole Nelson

Nikole Nelson

The NYC Experience: New Balance's interactive web feature on installation by Nikole Nelson

I can't begin to convey how much I love this store, brand and the dynamic results of true collaborative design. New Balance recently launced their official website covering the NYC Experience store. Featured on the site is this inspiring in-store video tour and an in depth look at the front art sculpture. The three primary parts of the installation's design and concept are conveyed through an impressive interactive user experience showcasing: History, Evolution and Contempory. Click on the image above, check it out and enjoy!    

The Making of a Designer: My SCAD Story

Nikole Nelson

This summer in the last stages of production on the New Balance Experience store, my alma mater Savannah College of Art and Design, stormed Red Hook to film my studio in action. It was an incredible honor to be able to share the richness SCAD has contributed to both my education and life as a whole. Please sit back and enjoy the next 3 minutes as I share my journey, passion, crazy notions and ever-evolving vision. Many mahalos to all who helped me get here; it's been a wild ride indeed!