We sit down with Jessie Nelson, the New York based artist, audio engineer and furniture designer behind Knuckle On Bone, the latest addition to the bespoke furniture line represented in Fortuny’s New York showroom. The pursuit of creativity and artisanship through attention to details and open-mindedness towards various sources of inspiration, be it music, materials, people, cities, and the world at large – are what align Fortuny and Jessie Nelson Studio.
Q: You are a musician, audio engineer and furniture designer. We learned that your brother is a tattoo artist. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and how that may have influenced your creative endeavors.
The outlook from our small town was rather bleak, and we knew early on we had outgrown it. A lot of our childhood was spent studying cultures. Skipping church to read magazines at the grocery store took us to other worlds that co-existed beyond our reach. Music was the guiding light and escape vessel. There was freedom knowing the stifling feeling of a small town was temporary and we could create our own existence once we were out on our own.
“[piano] lessons taught me early on that progress is only gained through focus and persistence. When you can stand on the winning side of a technical task, you know there was no short-cut to get there.”
Q: At Fortuny, we value both the technical savoir-faire and the creative rebellion that brings an object into the realm of art. Our fabrics are artisanally made in Venice. Your furniture is hand-made in New York. Tell us about your process of creating and how important it is to be in control of the fabrication process?
CHAIR from Jessie Nelson’s Knuckle On Bone collection, made with reinforced concrete and bermise teak. Photo by Jessie Nelson
Q: Knuckle On Bone is a very beautiful collection and we are very proud to have some pieces here in our showroom. What was the catalyst behind this collection? Do you see this as a collection that will grow with new designs or pieces under the KOB moniker or are you considering it a capsule collection? Anything you can share on what new designs or pieces will be coming up?
Everything was intentional and unconventional, designing buildings to allow direct sunlight into each room, elevating structures to integrate the landscape surrounding it. The use of concrete allowed them so much freedom in form. Design was functional and sculptural. This attitude was incorporated into Knuckle on Bone. The BOARD: 01 was designed with the audiophile in mind. Concrete coincidentally is an ideal surface for a turntable. The shelf space is made to fit hi-end components. The cabinet holds a vinyl collection, with space for brushes and cleaners etc. It can be used for anything really, but the real audiophile would be thrilled with the functionality of it. The fluidity of that modern movement freed me from the square nature of traditional wood working. KOB is a limited edition capsule collection. I continue to work with this palette, but there will be a new theme, and purpose.
The Hotel Adriatic II in Opatija, Croatia – an example of post-war Yugoslavian architecture. Photo by Valentin Jeck
BOARD: 1 from Jessie Nelson’s Knuckle On Bone collection, featuring concrete, brass and walnut. Photo by Jessie Nelson
“I have a hard time relating to furniture that is fabricated so perfectly that it loses its human connection. I love imperfections, flaws; it’s woven into the fabric of who we are. To deny that feels like a bit of betrayal.
Q: Talk about your process. How do your designs begin? Is it a sketch, a thought, a model? What do you do to get your inspiration and creative juices flowing?
To inquire about Jessie Nelson’s Knuckle On Bone collection, contact Fortuny New York
TABLE from Jessie Nelson’s Knuckle On Bone collection, made with reinforced concrete, leather and brass. Photo by Jessie Nelson
Q: What designer, dead or alive, would you most like to meet?
Q: Do you have a favorite furniture designer? Is there a particular piece of theirs that you wish you had designed?
Q: Name your favorite musician
Q: Put together your fantasy dream band.
Q: What instruments do you play?
Q: If you had to pick one musical instrument to represent you, what would it be and why?
Q: Your biggest crush is coming to NY for the first time for only one day. What will you take them to see and where will you eat?
Q: What city would you most want to live in if you had to move from New York?
Q: What item have you recently brought back from a trip that makes you happy?
Q: What is the last book you read that you really connected with?