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Designing Spaces For Wellness

Nike Onile is a spatial artist and designer who sees the holistic virtues of mindful design. In a time of lockdown, the artist shares how creative interior design can awaken us to the possibility of change and be a source of comfort in these times.

What we have right now is the very unconventional gift of a complete change in perspective within the walls we live in.

Nike Onile
Interior designer Nike Onile poses in the studio

Q: What does it take for you to feel at home in a space?

Nike Onile: It really depends on who is living in the space because at the end of the day, “space” is just the 4 walls of a room held together by nails. It’s what you inject into that space, how clear you are about what that space represents for you and what is personally needed for you to feel supported that makes the difference. We often forget that the spaces we call home need the love and care that you would naturally give someone you care deeply about. It is when you love up on your home that it loves your right back.

So when it comes to creating a home for yourself, spend time thinking first about what you are actually need – is it a safe space, or perhaps what your heart desires most is a place of adventure and inspiration, or maybe your soul desperately craves a space steeped in your culture and heritage to help you feel connected. Once you are clear about what you are actually creating, the fog begins to lift and the “how to create it” becomes more eminent because you know your why.

Q: What is an essential idea that is integral to your design process?

NO: People. The people I create for are the most integral part of my process. In designing, my approach is quite different from most conventional designers, because I am actually not a designer. I am an artist who happens to be “painting” in three dimensions using furniture, art, and textiles as the medium. Space is my canvas. In my process, what I am actually doing is taking people to the boundary of where space and self merge. The direction of the work is always dependent on my muse; the home dweller. For it is them, their story, and how they need the space to relate to them that catalyses my work.

Q: What do you feel modern spaces need the most? How do you go about addressing this need?

NO: Soul. Every space needs a soul; whether it’s a piece of furniture passed down through generations, art created by a loved one, or a chair wrapped in the cloth of your country. No matter the design aesthetic, modern or not, soul [and the piece that tell this story] is your home’s love language and your direct line in connecting with it.

Q: With most of our days spent indoors, how has this changed our relationship with our home and what it means?

NO: Changing the relationship you have with your home is much like changing the relationship you have with any one person. It requires a blank slate. The beauty of creation is often met through destruction, for all things that once were get to a point where they have served their purpose and come to an end in order to make room for the new.

So, whether that is a literal blank slate as in starting from scratch, a just fresh coat of paint, or rethinking the way you use a particular room – once you’ve changed the perspective from which you see your home, you then begin to see its possibilities. Then you can begin to re-introduce yourself to the walls that hold your life, and thus your heart.

Q: How do you find ways to express the concept of “soul” in your work?

NO: It takes form in so many different ways. I’ve heard it said that every object has a soul, a lived experience that translates to the space that surrounds it. I believe this whole-heartedly. I’ve felt it. I feel it. Now what makes this tricky is that physical space, along with the people who occupy this space, have stories to tell. You can see how harmoniously aligning this ménage can feel daunting and is often overlooked. Things, space and people are communicating all the time, so in my process of achieving harmony – I quiet the noise (visually, spiritually, physically), eliminate the fluff and pay attention to what is most important. From this point, I pull forward only the elements that fulfill the eyes, heart and splendour of life.

Q: Do you believe that creating the perfect space is possible? 

NO: There is no such thing. Perfect? No. Perfect for you? Absolutely. That in-fact, is the goal.The idea of perfection is a loaded one. It suffocates the room and leaves no room for growth. Our homes are meant to breathe and change with us so if we land on “perfect” where can we go from there. My advice, don’t strive for it- it’s a beautiful and unattainable mirage. Set your mind and heart on moving with your home. Or better said, it moving with you. As you grow, change, and discover yourself, let your home join you on the journey. Embracing the fluidity of life lived and what that looks like physically within your walls. This means evaluating what you need often + refreshing things around you with the turning over of your “life seasons”.

Q: How can design liberate ourselves from the monotony of living indoors? 

NO: I know, this is tough, especially now. We are social creatures so the monotony of what we are experiencing right now is a tough place to move through. But I am a big believer of starting where you are and with what you have. What we have right now is the very unconventional gift of a complete change in perspective within the walls we live in. With that comes the ability to look around us and discover what makes us feel more alive. Is it colour? Openness? or Nature? It’s not a coincidence that there is an indoor garden plant craze erupting at the moment. Figure out what you feel the most connected to.  Sometimes it is discovering that is as simple as paying attention to what you miss and crave the most, and introducing that into your space

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Nike Onile

Nike Onile is a spatial artist/designer and master of holistic design. Believing that good design is created for all the senses, her keen eye + relentless passion to explore the humanity in design has earned her a reputation amongst a new generation of placemakers shaping Canadian cities, as hailed by FLARE magazine.  As Principal of Studio Ode, formally 800 SQ FT, her unique approach is underpinned by storytelling + an obsession with honouring the history of the objects she works with. A world-class traveler, Nike is known for bridging design elements with the stories of her clients; capturing simple human essence + evoking the most wondrous of emotions in the spaces she creates. Ensuring that no matter where someone’s house is, they feel “at home,” Nike stops at nothing to get to the root of what brings her clients the strongest sense of belonging. Frequently featured in magazines, she also shines as a regular on Cityline, Canada’s longest running daytime talk show. With notable brand collaborations, she shares additional expertise on holistic design, small spaces + the art of slow living.

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Instagram: @nikeonile


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