ginny branch stelling by 13

what’s in your toolbox: nightwood


There is no concealing Design*Sponge’s adoration for Nightwood. Co-founders and designers Nadia and Myriah combine their talents (Myriah’s woodworking and Nadia’s textile work) to reincarnate furniture. Their aesthetic marries a rustic mix of clean lines with organic and salvaged materials, yielding Nightwood’s singular style. Ever since I saw these women makeover Amy’s bedroom, I have been chomping at the bit to invest in one of their gorgeous reimagined sofas or beds. I might just have to treat myself to a pillow or two to tide me over in the meantime! Read on to learn more about the inner workings of Nightwood . . . — Ginny

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox?

Nadia & Myriah: We have so many tools and things we use every day — from weaving and sewing tools to building and painting tools. Here are our everyday go to’s: We love all Ryobi tools, especially their drills. In our experience, they last longer than other, more expensive brands and are also smaller and more lightweight for our lady hands. We use our DeWalt chop saw all the time, too, and Ryobi circular saws. For sewing and weaving, I love my new loom, which is a Schacht Mighty Wolf loom. I’m a fast weaver, and I can get pretty rough with it, and it holds up well. Flax linens are our favorite fabrics, and they dye very well, too. We also love Ralph Lauren paint colors. They always have the exact color we are looking for.

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel _________.

Nadia & Myriah: We love to work together most of the time, and since we have separate studios now, we really appreciate the time we have together when we get to build and create new things. We are also grateful for getting to do what we do. We love our work.

The interview continues after the jump . . .

3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Nadia & Myriah: Our inspiration library is pretty small. We get a lot of our inspiration from nature and from the city. Recently, a book that inspired us both was Just Kids by Patti Smith. Our favorite magazines are World of Interiors and Vogue Living Australia. We recently went to the Brooklyn Museum and were taken with the primitive wood and woven costumes from Africa. They were all handmade and hand-carved, and the intricate details and imperfections are something we strive for. We both love when you can see the actual history and human touch that were involved in creating a piece.

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Do you have an agenda book and do you make to-do lists?

Nadia & Myriah: It is hard to stay organized, especially when we have several projects happening at once. It helps that there are two of us to remind one another of things we need to do. We both have agenda books and write to-do lists. When I get to my studio, one of the first things I do is make a list of the things I need to get done that day. I usually don’t allow myself to leave until they’re done. Myriah does the same.

5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero or magical power, what would it be and why?

Nadia & Myriah: My superhero power would be to be in several places at once. That way I could be at the wood shop with Myriah, at my studio making things, and with a design customer setting up or shopping for their space. It would be the ultimate form of multitasking. Myriah would like to be able to teletransport herself anywhere she needs to be. That way, there will be no time wasted traveling, and she could be anywhere she wants to be.

6. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?

Nadia & Myriah: The best piece of advice we have ever received was when you work hard to get what you want, don’t panic when you finally get it. Enjoy it!

A piece of advice we would offer to other designers and artists just starting would be to be a doer, not just a thinker. We have grown so rapidly in both our skills and business because we don’t have time to vacillate or think too much about how much or what we have to do. If we have an idea, we just make it, and if it doesn’t work, we fix it and then we move on to the next. Again and again.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Nadia & Myriah: We combat creative blocks by stepping out of our regular work routine. Even if we just take a trip to New Jersey for wood or Upstate for furniture, it really frees up our minds to get out of the city and our studios for a day. We usually come back with fresh ideas and inspiration.

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Nadia & Myriah: We love to shop at flea markets the most for inspiration. We still go to the Brooklyn Flea where we started, and we also love Build it Green for all the random things they get in there. We get most of our shopping inspiration from vintage pieces. We like the Brooklyn Museum for their recent Tipis exhibit and their African art, as well as the abstract paintings they have hanging in their lobby.

9.  Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Nadia & Myriah: If I could peek inside the toolbox of any designer/artist, it would be fiber artist Sheila Hicks. Her work to me is breathtaking and on such a large scale that is incredible to me. Myriah would like to get a peek inside any carpenter’s toolbox from the 1800s. She would like to see the kinds of tools they used before heavy machinery.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Nadia & Myriah: We listen to a lot of music every day that changes rapidly, but we do have many repeats that we keep going back to. These are:

Lady Gaga — When we need to work hard, she gets us moving.

Sharon Van Etten — “One Day”

Jessica Lee Mayfield — “Blue Skies Again”

Modest Mouse — “Float On”

Yoko Ono and Cat Power — “Revelation”

The Breeders — “Cannonball”

Patti Smith — “Till Victory”

Talking Heads — “I Feel It in My Heart”

Rye Rye and MIA — “Sunshine”

Blind — “Hercules and Love Affair”

Santogold — “I’m a Lady”

Brazilian Girls — “Good Time”

“New Order” — Everything’s Gone Green

Tanlines — “Real Life”

Warpaint — “Ashes to Ashes”

Lovers — “Barnacle”

Gyptian — “Hold You”

Julie Doiron — “Borrowed Minivans”

Lykke Li — “I Know Places”

Joan Armatrading — “Down to Zero”

Black Sabbath — “Laguna Sunrise”

Lissy Trullie — “Ready for the Floor”

The Clash — “I’m Not Down”

Sibylle Baier — “I Lost Something in the Hills”

Dr. Dog — “Weekend”

Bob Dylan — “Ballad of a Thin Man”

The Gossip — “Don’t Make Waves”

Studio Group — “Dancing in the Moonlight”

Jay Z — “Already Home”

MikaMiko — Sev

Althea and Donna — “No More Fighting”

The Kinks — “Dead End Street”

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13 Comments

julie

i’ve always been interested in building furniture and artists like these are why!

Susannah

You are an inspiration to all of us, love the mix of music,very eclectic and effective to get moving! Your work is amazing, wish I were that talented. Keep up the vibe and the beautiful original furniture.

Laura H.

Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize it until right now, but this would be my ideal life!!! Thanks for the insight in to two fabulous women and their amazing work.

Miss Natalie

This is one of the best “Toolbox” interviews I’ve seen! Nightwood is a huge inspiration for me and I’m so glad to get a peek behind how they work. I am drooling over their tools, although I was hope to get a look at the loom, too. It would be great if you could have a link to listen to their mix-tape.

evaone

what i can say… all i can feel now is a fan admiring her idol..lol but that’s true i really admire the work that you two have contributed and to us it serves as an inspiration.

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