A Conversation with Ornamental ConiferWho is Ornamental Conifer? Well, his birth name is Nicolai Sclater. Hailing from Wales and England, the blonde...
Who is Ornamental Conifer? Well, his birth name is Nicolai Sclater. Hailing from Wales and England, the blonde locked artist, who is mad about motos, has made his name by individualizing everything he can—from clothing to bikes to his own skin. His narrative is cheeky and clever, and is always on point.
He has done a few colabs, but his most recent two are outstanding. First off is his BMW colab with the surfboard shaper Mason Dyer for this past week's Wheels & Waves Festival in Biarritz, France.
It's called BMW Concept Path 22 and the bike was inspired by the BMW R nineT. According to BMW, it's a simple "down to earth" bike with a two-cylinder boxer engine. It wears a clean headlight, a single-sided swing arm, and of course, a board rack. OC dolled up the bike and also made a limited number of jackets to go along with the piece, while Dyer made limited editions boards.
His next colab, which we are "stoked" about (excuse the surf lingo, we got a little excited about the bike), is with Alpinestars. OC teamed up with the brand to help celebrate Alpinestars' Oscar label. Oscar is a unique off-shoot of Alpinestars that offers retro inspired everyday gear that also holds up to Alpinestars' safety standards. OC has made a one of a kind jacket that will go home to one lucky winner, along with 200 signed print posters for the runners up. But hurry, the contest will be over soon! Here is where you can enter.
We had a chance to catch up with OC during all of his busy projects and asked him some important questions. Here is what we found out!
RA: Knobby or slicks?
OC: Knobbies!!! All day everyday. They work well in mud and keep you on your toes on tarmac.
RA: Two-stroke or four-stroke?
OC: Four-stroke for sure, I'm far too forgetful to run a two-stroke.
RA: Hamburger or hotdogs?
OC: Both please, i don't eat sweet stuff so I'd happily have a hamburger for my main course followed by a hot dog for dessert.
RA: Braids or ponytails?
OC: Viking braids...
RA: Vintage or new?
OC: Vintage. I understand vintage, new stuff confuses me.
RA: Are you from Hackney?
OC: I lived in various places all over London for 12 years, but I spent my childhood on the move between Wales and England
RA: Who are your favorite artists?
OC: To name a few and in no particular order: Ed Ruscha, Horfe, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Willem Sandberg, Parra, Word To Mother, Mr. Penfold, Wes Lang... the list is ever growing and ever changing
RA: Who are your favorite racers/riders?
OC: Julian Heppekausen number 517
RA: Your "cuts" are nostalgic of clubs, but so individual. Can you elaborate on each aspect that attracts you to this style and expression?
OC: In regards to my painted leathers, yes, they were inspired by vintage leathers, often emblazoned with one's motorcycle club or favorite band. But when I started painting them years ago, I was attempting to create a new dialogue, using the back panel as a kind of message board to juxtapose the macho imagery of leather jackets, instigating messages of love, mischief, and humor. Its a great billboard to vocalize your opinions to whoever sits behind you and cares to read it..
RA: What was it like to work with BMW? Favorite part? Challenges?
OC: Working with BMW was remarkably relaxed—it all occurred so organically. Up until the point I was asked to work with them, I have to admit I'd always assumed working with a corporate company of that scale always seemed tedious, having to jump through a million hoops to keep every department happy, and in turn, crushing the creativity of thee project.
Except, the exact opposite occurred. They were ridiculously relaxed and gave me complete creative freedom, I think this has something to do with how well Ola Stenegard does his job. He would randomly appear at my house in LA, after flying over from Germany, to just hang out and chat. And although he was interested in what I was working on, he did not once ask me to explain or change anything. I have a lot of love for Ols, he has been around bikes for longer than I have been alive and still has such an enthusiastic, child like approach to everything. He is very easily excitable and I'm sure he won't mind me telling you, he has been everywhere, done everything and is older than he looks. He is always on the look out for something new, and because of that it was an extreme honor to work with him.
RA: What was it like to work with Alpinestars? Favorite part? Challenges?
OC: Working with Alpinestars was another great honor, again, this is a company I have grown up with. It's so nice to know that behind these brands there is still a family business with a close connection to their employees and treat their work as fun.Everyone I met through Alpinestars was all thanks to a guy called Chris Hull, who not only accommodated and managed everything with absolute unquiverrable style and finesse, but also continually checked I was happy with the direction it was taking. Not once did I feel pressured to create something that fitted the brand aesthetic, rather the opposite, I was encouraged to take whatever path I felt comfortable with.
My favorite part would have to be meeting Gabriele in France. He introduced himself to me and we stood and chatted for an hour or so before I even realized who he was. He just seemed like a big friendly giant, with a grin as wide as the moon. I just thought he was a spectator at the event, absolutely no arrogance or ego. I later found out I had been stood talking with the owner, and son of the founder of Alpinestars. The next day we had espresso together and met his boot maker—not once did it feel forced or fake. That always leaves me happy after a project: genuine, sincere people.
RA: What is next?
OC: I have an exhibition coming up in Bangkok with Deus Ex Machina, I'm working on a top secret project with Nike, and I'm planning to launch my own line of apparel later this year.
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