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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 Tag: Nikole Nelson

Tory Burch Sport: Behind the Scenes

Nikole Nelson

Photo by Lauren Trangmar

Photo by Lauren Trangmar

We took the term Mall Rats to a new level; 5 days, 90 hours and a LOT of coffee. The Tory Burch Sport store opened in Ala Moana mall last week boasting some quite lovely floors. Tasked to create a complicated, repetitive, geometric pattern, we attacked it full speed. It was by far the most intricate tape job I've ever executed. Very special mahalo to my rad Production Assistant, Lauren Trangmar for not abandoning me in the mall at midnight!

Easter Art Party: Pollock Eggs

Nikole Nelson

Photo by Nurry Kwon

Photo by Nurry Kwon

Spring is in the air and Easter is upon us. This month I took my inspiration from the queen of crafty herself: Martha Stewart. With a few custom touches, a splash of fun and lots of messy fingers, an Easter Art Party was born. My 3 year old son Koa and 6 of his buddies dove right in. It was the perfect exploration of texture and color and can be adapted for any age group. By taking your average panty dry good, food coloring and a little imagination you can create your own Pollock egg experience. A few tips to help you make your project a success:

Get outside. It gets messy. We used blue painters tape to secure the cups during preparation and protect against the natural elements (very windy day).

If working with children gauge your audience and their attention span. You want to set yourself up for success - I pre-dyed all the eggs giving them a base color.

You're going to need a lot of food coloring - I used 4 boxes in total with 7 dozen eggs. Get creative and mix custom colors. Periodically add food coloring to the dry goods - just enough to keep them damp.

Use foods that are white - they look more dynamic and exciting when dyed.

Beans are the best! Kidney beans, black eyed peas, small white beans - the food coloring stays damp longer. 

The size of the food makes a difference in the texture pattern - make sure to vary sizes so your final product is visually interesting and irregular. 

Items like peanuts and sunflower seeds take a lot of food coloring. They absorb and dry quickly. I did like how these materials provided a more subtle pattern which is why I included them for our kids. 

Above all don’t be afraid to experiment and get dirty! Happy dying and a hui hou!

Waimanalo: Dilapidated Beauty

Nikole Nelson

My birthday adventure: Goin country. Went on the hunt for inspiration and discovered a hidden gem just waiting to be explored. An expansive, dilapidated Waimanalo green house and nursery, secret garden heaven! I find my inspiration, treasures and building materials in the most amazing places. Getting dirty, climbing through over grown layers of untamed nature, discovering all the while...Indiana Jones style! Best birthday ever! 

The Grandmother Tree: Island of Hawaii

Nikole Nelson

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Sometimes a girl just needs to climb a tree, six acres of off-grid Hilo heaven, ten hands and a creative vision. Scraps. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny silk sari scraps. Tied together over a full moon, woven deep with hopes, dreams and prayers. Five souls sharing in the magic, a meditation to peel away the layers. Here the heartbeat of the aina can be felt pulsing beneath you, ever present and pure love. Welcome to our sacred corner of paradise…HOME. 

BLKCORAL by Nikole Nelson. Art installation. Natural Art. Hakalau, Hawaii.

The Blessing: sirena + the sea

Nikole Nelson

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BLKCORAL collection for sirena + the sea. Fall into Winter line. The blessing ceremony.

Jewelry, handmade in Hawaii, in the traditional ti leaf lei making style. Each piece blessed in the ocean before leaving our hands. One of a kind wearable sculptures.

To our clan: We are sending you energy filled with mana, abundance, joy and laughter. Wear your pieces well. Make them your own. And above all take time to feel the experience - you are a goddess. Let her roar.

Love and Aloha,

Niki

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

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!

Behind the Scenes: NB Feature Art Installation

Nikole Nelson

Photograph by Jeff Harris

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Entry wall of store, pre-construction, where sculpture would be installed.

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Early concept sketches.

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Die-cut waste - New Balance manufacturing plant.

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Sculpture exterior design development sample.

Collaborators, Porter Green Works, building plywood structure.

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Archived shoe making tools formed into 1906, NB's year of origin.

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NB shoe tags individually rolled with wire.

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Sculpting mechanical arm from industrial hardware.

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Resin copy of original sewing machine used in early NB factories.

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Visual merchandising display design development samples in progress.

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On-site installation.

Photograph by Jeff Harris.

My approach to design starts from the inside of the brand; its inception through its evolution. As part of my research I traveled to the New Balance manufacturing plant in Lawrence, MA to observe their production first hand. As a “picker” at heart my eye found beauty in every element of the creation process – from the materials and tools used to the contents of the dumpsters (during my many dives!). These pieces would directly translate into the primary feature art piece within the store.

Upon entering the NYC experience store the sculpture provides an immediate sense of the unique quality of the brand – where the technical meets the organic. Angled boxes converge to form a composition that encourages a consumer viewing experience filled with texture and mystery. Each individual box contributes to a journey through the history, evolution and contemporary energy of New Balance from its foundation in 1906 to present. The company’s year of origin is crafted from archived shoe making tools and extends the length of the sculpture. A resin replica of the original sewing machines used in the early factories is encased in moss as if it halted mid-stich in decades past. Scrap leather from die cut waste was sculpted in layers over the surface creating a fossilized texture. Actual individual shoe parts converge in repetition to create a variety of abstract sculptures that capture the intensity, movement and originality of the brand.

Special thanks to the New Balance family and my dynamic team of hard working ladies for their commitment, drive and energizing spirits. Cheers to a job well done! 

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Behind the Scenes: The Making of Kill Street

Nikole Nelson

We welcomed in Spring this year with the creation of sets for the making of the film Kill Street. Four long days were spent in a dusty Brooklyn warehouse collaborating with some of New York's leading film talents. Not afraid of the dirty challenge we dove right in chanelling the film's dark, aggressive nature as inspiration for the overall Art Design. The short is scheduled to complete post production this fall and we couldn't be more excited! More to come in the coming months. 

Behind the Scenes: New Balance Experience Store

Nikole Nelson

Photograph by Jeff Harris

Harnessing the power of the retail experience we imparted an organic, deconstructed, visual journey through the evolution of the brand at the recently opened New Balance NYC Experience Store on 5th Avenue in the Flatiron District of Manhattan.

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Raw site pre-construction.

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Nelson's early concept sketch for rear wall of store.

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Design development sample focusing on movement and texture.

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Drawing in breakaway design before brick work begins.

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Mortar application and final texturing in progress.

Photograph by Jeff Harris

This takes my love of mortar, concrete, dirt, texture and RED to a new level. Collaborating with skilled masons the back wall was built to mimic the existing brick throughout the space dating back to the 1800's. Layers where the key to authenticity - mortar was custom tinted, thickly applied and strategically scraped after drying. It was labor intensive and pretty damn crazy - my entire team is now equipped with ripped arms as a result of this process! Who needs the gym when you have the summer of New Balance brick lovin!

Inspiration took seed in a matter of seconds as I stood in the raw space, with architectural drawings by retail masters Cormark, in hand. Scanning the space meticulously I calculated the imagery of each wall - the demolition was gorgeous. Areas of the wall were ripped open revealing the inner workings of the structure. It was like a day in heaven - I love all things deconstructed. From the walls of the architecture itself the movement of the red breakaway was born. Pepper in the collaborative layers of signage by IDL, visual merchandising displays by Knock and the sickest texture mapping a girl has ever seen by KLIP and you find an experience worth craving.

More behind the scenes at the New Balance NYC Experience Store to follow in the coming week. Stay tuned!

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