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Creative Forces

BY Jenn Thornton | February 18, 2019 | Feature Features National

Artist, entrepreneur, visionary—Nikole Nelson channels her prodigious talent into the islands’ interdisciplinary design firm BLKCORAL.

Nikole Nelson stands tall at Paiko boutique (which houses Arvo Cafe), where she designed the inviting interiors.

The daughter of an artist and plumbing contractor, Nikole Nelson was raised a maker, having grown up on Maui construction sites. While transforming discarded construction material into small sculptures, the now founder and creative director of Hawai‘i’s BLKCORAL learned what she calls “the purity of a collective goal.”
Nelson, whose background includes stints as painter, sculptor and art educator, found herself at Savannah College of Art and Design, where, she says, “interior design flipped the switch. Creating environments moved me.” Through BLKCORAL (which works in interior and experiential design, art installation, conceptual brand environments, art production, and surface and material fabrication), Nelson is able to manifest her unique mission. Along with signature projects Paiko in Kaka‘ako and Honolulu Coffee, are Nelson’s similarly interesting efforts for Tory Burch and Kate Spade, and an art installation at the Surfjack Hotel.

There is no inspiration that Nelson won’t seek, whether it’s hiking in Arizona or engrossing herself in Gaudi-style architecture in Barcelona. “It’s not enough for me to see a photo of something,” she says. “I need to experience it, touch it, smell it. Immersion in a moment is what I’m after.” Nelson’s latest endeavor with BLKCORAL is completing large-scale sculptures, one of which is a collaboration with Sig Zane for American Savings Bank’s new campus, opening in April. “We can’t wait to see what is going to come next,” says Nelson.

Photography Courtesy Of: