MESS: It is known your first successful entrepreneur endeavour was your taxi restoration project. I want to go back to your model days, it was the first taste you had of the industry after all! What were your favourite aspects of modeling?
NICO: I loved the fact that I could express myself on a runway or through a photograph and enjoyed the power that it allowed me through simply a physical expression. Although generally, I definitely felt outclassed in the modeling world as most of the guys were incredibly more handsome than myself. That’s what directed me to use my mind and get behind the camera – to become more creative as a designer / art director. My focus became creating an environment versus starring in the environment.
MESS: You’ve showed through your architectural and interior flair that you have a very creative mind. Were there any photo shoots that you did, or see, that have stood out in that aspect? Why?
NICO: Probably nothing as amazing as the Architectural Interior photo shoot at the incredible glass cottage that I restored in 2012 it was originally constructed by William Randolph Hearst decades ago for his "mistress" Marion Davies in Beverly Hills.
It is an incredible architectural piece and one of the most unique environments I've ever had the pleasure of restoring. It's all glass with a unibody steel frame that supports more than 12,000 lbs of glass.
One of the amazing elements of the Glass Cottage is the fact that it's placed within a wooded forest in the heart of Beverly Hills and the roof actually accordions open at 45° creating an entirely indoor outdoor experience. There wasn't a day I was at the cottage that I did not feel Mr. Hearst’s presence within the environment. It was a remarkable sensation and one that I felt honored to absorb during my time there. It was probably one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life!
MESS: Who are your most influential (and non traditional!) mentors you’ve had through out your life? Why?
NICO: I think one of the greatest influences on my design career has been Bucky Fuller, who was groundbreaking in his development of the geodesic dome -- a spherical dome made of equal parts that are assembled much like an erector set. I had the pleasure of constructing an enormous geodesic dome at a Beverly Hills mansion in 2009. It became the dramatic entry and center point which later became known as Mansion 11. Every day during the construction my lead foreman "Hoss" reminded me of him studying under Bucky, and I was honored to take part in something with his inspiration.
Geodesic domes have always been close to my heart based on their simplicity and remarkable appeal when within the sphere. There are many other designers who have inspired me but none as uniquely as Bucky Fuller. He was more of an inspiration than a mentor but nonetheless a great impact on the way I see design...
MESS: In many of your projects I've noticed you use key words that link them all, give it the definitive Nico feel: Sexy, Lost Art and History. Why are these qualities so important? How would you personally define them?
NICO: I think the Nico feel really embodies many things. I believe it's incredibly important to recognize timeless elements in almost all of my designs because objects that are timeless are often comfortable....they make us feel comforted by the fact that we recognize, have seen, felt or touched before and therefore it creates a comfortable environment.
History allows us something to talk about in an environment, something to potentially reminisce about and something to communicate about with our guests or clients...
Sexy is often intangible but very palatable in many of the environments that I create.
Sexy is about fearlessness in design that provokes the imagination of people who experience it. Combined with an eclectic, timeless space to allow people to feel comfortable while provoking their senses of what could be....
MESS: With all the projects you have going on your still searching for new ones! The motivation and drive you have is pretty incredible. Unfortunately because there are only 24 hours in the day it isn’t enough to give all the personal touch. You’ve stated in other interviews that you get rid of the projects that aren’t appealing anymore. How do you decide which ones to stop working on? When do you know its time to let go?
NICO: It’s been my experience that some of the smaller projects can often take up as much or more time than the grandest projects, so unless it embodies something that the world will recognize, many of the smaller projects end up on the cut list. I make an effort not to do things just for the money. It's absolutely about the love and I'm very blessed to be in this position...
MESS: There seems to be nothing creatively that you can not make lucrative! What is your ultimate goal?
NICO: The beauty of being creative is that the process is lucrative in itself and any monetary rewards are simply cause and effect of the project. I see myself spending more time growing spiritually and internally and less time doing things for monetary compensation, the true reward is the enjoyment I get out of each project. I definitely see going around the world on the Aviator motoryacht I recently completed as one of the culminations of a childhood dream that has come to life...