Puka Puka mobiles – handmade in Sydney by Nina Still
I have been meaning to write a little post about Puka Puka mobiles FOREVER. With everyone I know popping out babies at the moment (seriously, is it just me?) it seems like an opportune time to share these unique creations, handmade in Sydney by architect Nina Still. Wouldn’t they make the perfect addition to any new bub’s bedroom?
You might wonder how an architect ends up with a successful sideline business making mobiles! I wondered that too… so I asked Nina a few questions –
Can you give us a little info about your creative background?
I come from a family of artists / architects – my grandfather studied Architecture in St Petersburg, and both my parents are architects. I actually wanted to be an artist but ended up studying architecture for 10 yrs. I also have a love of jewellery, ceramics, object design and printmaking. I did a mentorship in Auckland with Warwick Freeman (Who sometimes exhibits at Gallery Funaki), and studied at Jewellery Manufacture at NMIT Melbourne.
How did you get into making mobiles?
I was looking for something to fulfil me creatively, I was making jewellery but there are so many amazing jewellers around (especially in Melbourne, where I used to live), and I wanted to something a little different that had a narrative with Australia. All my mobiles are influenced by the Australian landscape, and I am often inspired by leaf shapes and colours, and underwater worlds. I guess making mobiles and sculptures is a balance between jewellery and architecture, and I get to play with materials, colours, light shadow and scale.
I also saw a gap in the market for modern mobiles that weren’t just Alexander Calder copies and didn’t tangle like the Flensted mobiles. I really wanted to get back to using my hands to make things, as opposed to designing abstract things on the computer. I really enjoy making the mobiles and watching them all move together, and then sending them off around the world. It makes my day when I get an email from a customer saying how much they love their mobile.
How long you’ve been making mobiles?
I started Puka Puka in 2005 whilst living in Melbourne. Initially I spent lots of time sourcing materials and manufacturers.
Do you still make them all by hand from home?
Yep, at the moment I still make them all myself, it is very peaceful (well, it is a balancing act between my architecture work and making all my orders). But I am slowly working on a range that is DIY assembly. My tools and mobile making paraphernalia are portable so I can take my work with me wherever I go, sometimes I take my kids and go and work up the coast.
In addition to selling her designs through her online shop, Nina is also open to private commissions, and collaborates with designers and stylists to create unique installations for clients. There’s a lot more info about Nina on her website, and she also has a great blog outlining some of her creative inspirations and works in progress (and the occasional children’s birthday party!).