Meet Karima & Noemie, the all empowering female duo behind NOKA Design. When we first discovered this beautiful brand of sculptural candles we were mesmerized. Our love for the brand grew as we learned more about its ethos and the women behind it.
When we met with Karima we were lucky enough to visit their space where the creativity flows, as did the amazing scents of the candles that wafted in the balmy Indonesian air, a memory that we will be imprinted into our mind forever.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how did you come to work together?
We both found ourselves in Bali just before the pandemic hit, but our paths to get here were quite different. Noemie has a background in Psychology and contemporary dance predominantly in Switzerland while Karima had been studying and working in hospitality in Amsterdam and then Melbourne before returning to Bali. We met during the first wave of the pandemic at a dinner with mutual friends. Despite coming from different professional backgrounds, we bonded over the shared experience of starting over in a new country and navigating the uncertainty of the pandemic.
When starting your business did you ever imagine what it could become?
Throughout the R&D of our candles, we wanted to get a sense of how our products would be received. So, we started selling them at markets here in Bali. The positive feedback gave us the nudge to continue and gave us the understanding that our candles could also be successful on an international level. However, we could never have predicted how fast we could have grown in such a short period of time. It's amazing to think about how our market stall has transformed into a thriving business with a dedicated team and workspace.
Can you tell us a bit about your installation at Milan Design Week 2022?
It was amazing to see our candles prominently displayed, showcasing what we had been working on for the past year. The theme of the year at the Isola Design Week, "Together as One," was a fitting reminder of the challenges we all faced during the pandemic. "Pillars of light" and "Why bloom don’t speak" were the final pieces of our first collection, "The love that remains." We had incorporated designs from our previous candles into these two pieces, which felt like it had really united the collection. Being a part of this event gave us the chance to gain new perspectives and inspiration from other creatives who were using materials and design in innovative ways.
Where do you find inspiration?
Our first collection was born from a desire to create something that felt uniquely personal. We drew inspiration from the objects around us that we felt connected to, finding similarities in our upbringings that we could weave into our designs. As we worked on the collection, we embarked on a journey of research and development, exploring new ways to bring our vision to life. We experimented with different materials and techniques, even sewing shapes of wax together at one point to physically see our idea. Now, through Noemie’s exploration of 3D designs, we are able to manipulate figures and push the boundaries of what we can realistically turn into candles. It's exciting to see how far we can go.
Can you please tell us your most treasured piece in your home?
Karima: All my little home objects from my family's house in Italy that we had recently sold but a house that I spent most winters at since I was born. Such as the little mountain box we used to store our playing cards in, the ceramic olive oil bottle, the ceramic tile for hot plates from Positano and our cherry placemats. These are small treasures I love having in my space when I'm home.
Noemie: It's easy to overlook the significance of a piece of furniture, but for me my couch is the most treasured piece of my home. It's a place where I spend the most quality time with myself, my dogs, my boyfriend, a place where we hang out when friends come over. I love the overall space and mood I can set around it.
What does ‘home’ mean to you?
Home is a place where we can surround ourselves with objects and decor that reflect our personalities and bring us joy. Its also a place where our dogs know to come home to and feel safe.
Can you please talk us through your favourite piece from your collection?
Our favourite pieces from our “The Love That Remains” collection is our “A summer in Lago Di Garda” and “Pillars of Light” candles. They are easily adaptable to different colours, providing timeless statement pieces in any space.
What advice would you give to any other creatives hoping to start a business?
Keep going. In the beginning of our journey, there were many moments where we wanted to throw in the towel. Candle making requires a lot of patience and waiting to know if it turned out the way you wanted it to. And then having to completely start over when it doesn’t. But having each other to motivate and make difficult situations into something lighter and fun has helped us to persevere. The feeling of seeing the finished product after all that trial and error makes it worth it!