Over a decade ago, designer and design educator Nina Edwards Anker launched her personal firm, the acronymic NEA Studio. Since 2006, the firm has not settled for just one discipline; instead, Nina has built her firm, quite literally, from the ground up, and has delivered unconventional architecture projects, furniture lines, and lighting around the world. With a focus on sustainability, NEA Studio’s commitment to using ethically sourced materials and green technology is more important now than ever. Aligning with her forward-thinking, Edwards Ankers’ furniture takes futuristic shapes and her designs follow an unconventional mold. Her efforts toward a sustainable future and a free-spirited take on design have not gone unnoticed; the firm owner has designed light and furniture exhibitions around the world, and won awards for her work involving 3D printing. With no fear of adapting and adding to the future of design, Nina Edwards Anker joins me in today’s Maker Monday.
These custom NEA Studio pool lights illuminate a modern estate’s moat.
Andrew Joseph: What’s your wakeup ritual?
Nina Edwards Anker: Meditate for 20 minutes, read a passage from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo (or another inspiring book), kiss my loved ones, hand squeeze orange juice for my sons (if I’m feeling coordinated), school drop-off, gym or walk to work, sketch or write with coffee at the studio.
Andrew: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Nina: Work and life are intertwined – many of my pieces are designed for my home – the best way to test a prototype or a space is to live in/with it and experience how it can make life better – or not… Above all, we have fun at the studio. Also, I learned, especially from my years in architecture offices in Norway, that focus allows for shorter work days, which allows me more time with friends and family.
Andrew: What’s your favorite time of day?
Nina: The blue hour, dusk as the sun goes down. It’s the time of day I walk home from work, wind down, meditate, sometimes cook and look forward to the evening with my family or friends. It’s also the hour my solar lights automatically illuminate!
NEA Studio’s “Knotties” lounges are reminiscent of the islands, comprised of waterproof rattan for inside or outside use.
Andrew: What’s your biggest fear in life?
Nina: Regrets. To not live life fully with love and leaving a legacy – being out of sync. My greatest fear is to live in fear, not love.
Andrew: If you had one more hour in the day what would you do with it?
Nina: Spend it connecting with my kids, colleagues, friends, family – preferably out in nature.
Manipulating angles and light, this NEA designed home’s tinted windows may not be what you’re used to, but their refraction lends a brilliant gold to the bedside.
Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Nina: My greatest inspiration is from nature. The environmental technologies and bio-materials currently emerging on the market allow for endless creative opportunities – in my opinion, it is unforgivable of designers in the world we’re living in today, to not invest in these new eco-technologies and materials. My particular inspiration is in the design potential of solar design, the way artificial photovoltaic technology can power LEDs that illuminate translucent organic materials in architecture and design.
About Nina Edwards Anker | Nina Edwards Anker is an architect, designer and writer whose teaching interests revolve around sustainable design. Edwards Anker’s contemporary design works have been widely published and exhibited. Edwards Anker has designed solar lights and furniture for exhibitions at the 3D Print Show and ICFF in Manhattan, Copenhagen, Cologne, Miami and Milan Furniture Fairs. The designer’s Landscape Sofa won the 2015 Good Design Award Chicago Atheneum Museum of Architecture and Design, and her 3D printed solar Latitude Lights won the A’Design Award in 2017.
Edwards Anker was awarded her doctorate in 2016 from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Her doctoral thesis bridges phenomenological theory and solar design. She has held teaching positions in architecture at Pratt, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, and New York University Gallatin. Edwards Anker continues to design, research, develop and exhibit solar lights and furniture while practicing architecture and design at New Lab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She is currently co-head of studio and teaching at the ONE Lab School for Design and Science at New Lab with Terreform ONE, collaborating on the Insectarium and vivarium exhibition spaces for the American Museum of Natural History and Cooper Hewitt Museum.
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