Nike Onile is a spatial artist / designer, and master of holistic design. Believing that good design is created for all the senses, her keen eye and relentless passion to explore the humanity in design has earned her a reputation amongst a new generation of placemakers shaping Canadian cities, as hailed by FLARE magazine.

As Principal of Studio Ode, her unique approach is underpinned by storytelling and an obsession with honouring the history of the objects she works with. A world-class traveler, Nike is known for bridging design elements with the stories of her clients; capturing simple human essence and evoking the most wondrous of emotions in the spaces she creates. 

Photos by Angie Choi

1. During this unconventional time, what does a day in your life look like?

Outside of the not being able to freely see other beautiful humans (family, friends, clients, colleagues) and the introduction of web-based interactions, my day to day activities actually hasn’t changed that much. Up at 3:30 / 4:00 AM (My internal clock naturally wakes me up at this time... I know, it’s disgustingly early, but I absolutely love it. The world is so quiet then. Gives me time to hear myself). Spend time with myself often listen to a few chapters of an audio book or a podcast (I’m in love with philosophy), gather my thoughts, say hello to my intuition and meditate. These are my favourite hours; everything is possible in these hours. Answer a large portion of my emails which I schedule to go out at 8 AM so as to not freak others out by my incredibly early nature. Breakfast while video chatting with someone in my core network (mom, sister, chosen sisters), then the rest of my lit hours are split between video consultations, meetings, and designing/creating beautiful spaces. Some days are spent filming – whether for Cityline, the daytime lifestyle television show, or for my own online platform @nikeonile. I try to just tap into what feels good that day and find my stride. I find I am more productive that way. My work days usually end around 5/6pm then dinner and some form of relaxation.


Can you share a meaningful lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic?

Come as you are, it is enough. The pandemic, though incredibly devastating and distributive across the globe, has been a powerful sieve creating a clear divide between what is important and what simply is not. With a heavy hand, it has created such a climate of pressure and urgency but with that, it has also brought a grounding sense of clarity and honesty - which I deeply respect; even if that honesty is hard to look at. Think of it this way. On the most difficult of journeys, you only take the most important and useful things with you; all else gets left behind. Simply put - in trying times, and for those trying to push forward (and survive), the things that do not serve you very quickly fall to the waste-side to free up energy for the things that do.

3. How has the pandemic affected your creative practice and pursuits?

It has been an ebb and flow, sometimes bringing stunning gifts of freshness and creativity and others an incredible heaviness. I don’t mind the heaviness though. There is so much to learn and absorb in the darkness; you just have to become a root.

Nike in the Female Form Necklace

4. Congratulations on your new chapter with the beautiful Studio Ode! What inspired the change?

It was just a re-alignment to have my design firm reflect the work I was actually doing. My previous firm centred around small spaces but through years of working with people and space it became clear that the work I was actually doing was that of the soul. It had nothing to do with the size of the container that held life but rather a way of living focused on intentionality and harmony. This is what Ode is about. We pay homage to the stories life tells by organizing these stories beautifully around us in physical form; the home.

5. Where are you finding creative inspiration at the moment?

I would have to say: Us and Nature. When it comes to people I am fascinated by the way we live, what makes us feel alive and most like ourselves, and how we relate to each other. The relationship we have with ourselves, those we have with others and how that translates to space is a fun place to get to work in every day. Recently though, I have also been drawing a lot of joy from nature. She has a way of answering all questions by simply being and it is just for me to be silent, attentive and open to her knowledge. There is so much she has to teach - her expansiveness; her ability to evoke emotion and willing surrender; and just her immense beauty! I mean, have you ever walked so deep into a forest that it’s fullness insulates you from all sound but its own? And notice how all your worries just seem so insignificant? And then get physically and mentally lost and captured by the beauty of the life that surrounds you? There is so much inspiration to be found in that and one of the best parts is that she (mother nature) lets me hone in on that essence and borrow it in my life and my work.

6. Name one thing upcoming that you're excited for, personally or professionally.

Personally - My sister has recently been spending her time in Costa Rica eating fresh fruit, catching sun and laying her beautiful behind on the beach; I look forward to joining her when we can travel again. Professionally - there is some pretty huge that is happening; a milestone for me actually. I am bursting at the seems but can’t talk about it yet. Let me just drop a hint and say public installation.


7. What rituals or activities are keeping you grounded and clear-minded right now?

I recently completely gutted and renovated my 800 SQ FT apartment and with that I designed my bathroom to feel like I was bathing outside in Morocco, so I have been spending lots of time there indulging in so lengthy bubble baths.


Studio Ode