Demolition bounty: Roofing material.
Pre-bleached Kentucky cow bones.
Set production in progress.
Iridescent paint added to puddles for oily rainbow look.
Photographer Teru Onishi
My surprise collaborators!
Sometimes a story is too good to keep to yourself, this, my friends is one of those rare glimpses into the unexpected. The design process for the Zink Top 7 spread came together seamlessly. Every experimental idea I had worked perfectly; there were no plan B’s needed. I was en fuego! Even the materials practically found me.
In this city timing is everything. As I was walking down the street tar covered gravel, asphalt chunks, and sand dropped from overhead scaffolding right in front of me. Roofers were removing the weathered old materials in preparation for winter storms. It was raining my set!
Picture this: An ecstatic woman on the street digging through gravel, in a dress and heels, whipping tools and work gloves out of her limited edition Coach bag, surrounded by baffled construction workers. If you know NYC you know it is hard to stun a construction worker into silence – in retrospect they must have checked the headlines for an escaped lunatic over coffee the following morning. Fast forward, gravels mixed, glued, painted, poly sealer and iridescents used to simulate puddles of oil slick liquid, 2 boxes of bones received express from fellow SCAD Alum, Edward Seay in Kentucky and the set was made! Time for the magic!
Japanese photographer Teru Onishi was elated with the design, texture and contrast of grime and freshly bleached gleaming white bone. On a set you try multiple configurations of prop styling and this day was no different. Teru requested that we cut open the thigh bone making it possible to slip the bracelets onto it…easy enough. His assistant went to it, sawing away with the swiftness any coroner would have been proud of. As the bone separated a huge surprise was discovered.
Ants and larva covered the table and a wave of insects darted from the bone! Let’s pause a moment…While I love to get dirty and clearly exhibit tom-boy tendencies toward power tools and all things Home Depot, bugs are NOT my thing. Should a rogue insect happen into my apartment, I cover it with a bowl, trapping it for my boyfriend to deal with later. Again…I don’t do bugs! Now back to the squirming ecosystem in the studio…it was like I was transformed…a trifecta of strength surged through me the likes of JEM, She-Ra and Wonder Woman combined! In what seemed like seconds I used my HAND to sweep the ants into a trash bag, grabbed the bone, ran to the sink, flooded it with water, shook out the remaining inhabitants, exterminated several ants running up my arm, wiped down the table, knotted the trash bag and tada! Saved the day! Who knew there was an entire ant village participating in my design process; now that is collaboration!
View full project at: http://nikolenelson.com/set-design/zink-magazine-top-7.html
Jennifer Janviere Photography
I have a fascination with skulls that goes back to my love of the Spanish Day of the Dead celebrations, complete with festive traditions, imagery and colors. I find skulls beautiful, fascinating, immersed in culture and dripping with scientific queries. The sleek lines, variety of form, scale, and the juxtaposition of simplicity versus complexity intrigues me for long periods of inspired brain storms. It was love-at-first-site when I spotted the bone china skull ring designed by the former UK based team Mixko (the designers have split to pursue individual paths). It is my most complimented accessory and every time I slip it on I am inspired. The ring's function is not only to complete an outfit, but to add another level to living the design. I wear my inspiration whenever possible, kind of like in LA where you wear your car; fashion is a visual definition of character. In my apartment my favorite piece of art is Alexander Beeching's, Momento Vitae, a heavenly composition of imaginary constellations grouped together to form mirrored skulls. Lines converge, connect and move the eye in an original motion with each viewing. Absolutely gorgeous! Not only do I adorn skull jewelry and artwork, I jump at any opportunity to incorporate skulls into my designs. Ever been to a cow graveyard? Nor have I, however I have people! A box of bones arrived at my apartment freshly bleached from a Kentucky cattle farm, courtesy of my college pal Edwardo, and became the feature element of a set designed for Zink Magazine. What's next in the exciting adventures of design vs. bones - one can only wonder - installations, deconstructing, texture studies...ahhh the inspiration!