Niki Boden from Duesseldorf, Germany, is another discovery this year.
Her sales rep suddenly appeared in my shop one day, introducing himself as Doctor Zhivago. Strange brew, the kind I like? off-mainstream. When I saw his photos of her extraordinary designs, I knew I had to order!
Mythical beasts and moo-cows, beetles and birds and brilliantly coloured baubles, bangles and beads in a wonderful composite material that defies description and is her own secret recipe, patented and protected and in the wider sense of the word also plastic. So without actually seeing and feeling and hearing and smelling her jewellery I sent off my order. AND was thrilled to bits with the items I received.
With a solid background in art and design studies, she has established herself in a niche that lies between the two – a self-professed creator of art objects.
Unmistakeably Niki Boden, her whimsical and waggish accessory creations are instantly adorable and immensely wearable.
Usually creatures of some kind, they sparkle and shimmer, their wings made of iridescent foil, stamped in a special die technique. They tremble and nod on spirals and hinges like their US vintage predecessors; they grin ironically, dangling hugely from ears, necks or lapels, their bodies made of a plethora of materials, including such banal stuff as scouring pads (the sheep in question then bear the mock label “pure steel wool”)!
Humorous, elegant and extremely conspicuous, they have been a huge success with lovers of the unconventional since 1990.
Niki Boden was born in Duesseldorf in 1961.
She studied visual techniques at the Freie Kunstschule Stuttgart in 1984.
Starting in 1985 she spent five years at the University of Applied Sciences in Krefeld studying ceramics and object design.
She is not an artist or designer in the conventional sense of the word. Niki Boden prefers to describe herself as a self-taught art and object designer.
In 1990 Niki Boden developed her own base materials and special techniques for her creative work.
She took out patents in 1992 to protect her whimsical objects, which are exhibited and sold at trade fairs and galleries.
Her bizarre creations are characterized by an unusual intensity of colour and luminous materials. Complex patterns of pave-set rhinestone mosaics combined with iridescent foil generate futuristic sparkling effects in all shades.
The glamour of these magnificent objects masks the witty, unorthodox use of trivial everyday utensils. A second glance reveals house-hold goods, gardening tools, hygiene, electronic, DIY* and junk items – all “biologically implanted” in a completely new context, perfectly camouflaged except to the experienced eye.
Another feature of her shiny creatures is their movement. The items, connected by springs and joints, are set in motion by the slightest mechanical impulse.
Others are moved by wind-up springs or electric motors and yet others blink and wink their bright flashing bulb eyes, running on electricity.
In addition to their purely decorative use as ornaments, many creatures have a functional value and can be used as brooches, hair clips, ear clips, rings, glasses, table lighters, bottle corks, ashtrays, jewellery boxes, mirrors or lamps.
As well as her limited-edition jewellery, Niki Boden also crafts table lighters (up to 20 cm in size), ornamental objects (up to 60 cm) and large one-off pieces to customer specifications.
*DIY do il yourself