“I don’t want to work in a way that is not largely easy and enjoyable,” explains artist Nicole Patel. We are standing in the sun-splashed living room of her home in Nyack, a charming town west of the Hudson River. Nicole’s work literally surrounds her – rolls of linen twine rest by her wrists, plaster slabs share desk and floor space with wooden frames. Patel moved to Nyack with her husband and son in 2014 from Brooklyn, looking for a quieter way of life and more space to work. She has found both.
In fact, a simpler way of being was the catalyst to the pieces Nicole began creating after the move. “I was inspired by this idea of adding little presences to my home,” she says. “I began with natural, sustainable materials like cotton cloth and wool thread and stretched grids over canvases.” The minimalist, at-times tonal results mimicked many of Patel’s inspirations – architect John Pawson, Buddhism and a 1970s cultural movement called Voluntary Simplicity (“Basically a license to get off the consumerist highway and define a life based on having just enough to reach one’s full potential,” says Patel). But her curiosity and roster of materials quickly grew in scope: heavy plaster, beeswax, Italian marble.
Having spent time with Nicole it’s apparent that each day, for her, presents a chance at reinvention. She has worked as an interior design consultant, run a contemporary furniture gallery, acted as a professional organizer, and co-run a menswear boutique called C’H’C’M’ with husband, Sweetu. “A businesswoman and a housewife depending on the day,” as she describes it. Staying attuned to her needs has always prompted these changes. “The time to pursue what was important to me each step of the way was always a priority for me,” she says. “And I’ll always take the privilege of time and contemplation over material possessions.”
The time Patel allows herself yields experimenting. Lots of it. “I think the challenge is to find a way to make something by hand in a modern world that doesn’t need to be excused for its imperfections,” Nicole says over salad. Her tone is gentle and thoughtful, never rushed. Pauses are frequent. “When I’m working and pulling a string along rhythmically, there’s a certain grace to it, sure. But there is also a lot of trial and error and the process can be quite clumsy.” She laughs.
Patel has made a range exclusively for Cereal, crafted from muslin and paper with a gradient of Japanese merino wool threads. The thread gives the pieces an organic softness that Patel says is “very easy to live with.” Punctuating that statement with one of her signature pauses she leans back. “I feel at home with Cereal,” she says, and we quietly finish lunch.
These exclusive pieces are available for purchase on the Cereal Shop .