In Residence: Michele Oka Doner – NOWNESS

Like a fossil embedded in stone, the art of internationally renowned sculptor and designer Michele Oka Doner is imprinted into the fabric of her SoHo loft home.

Instead of walls, Oka Doner’s elegant studio apartment is shaped by the flotsam and jetsam of conch shells and minerals, separating the kitchen from the lounge, and dried bark and petrified tree roots that divide the piano from the dinning table.

For the latest In Residence the Miami Beach native opens her home, where we see gold, bronze, clay, wood, wax and paper—the earth’s raw materials—which form the foundation of her art.

Oka Doner’s work ebbs and flows between the handmade and the organic, inspired by world histories and folklore. “The sheer breadth of her interests and influences made for one of the most fascinating conversations of my career,” says episode director Max Hemmings. “She makes such remarkable connections—everything from Herbert Read to Ötzi the Iceman—as if drawing on a whole library at will.”

Naturally occurring shapes and patterns are a key theme in Oka Doner’s work, perhaps her most famous being A Walk On The Beach, a one-mile stretch of tropical seeds and 9,000 unique aquatic bronzes embedded into a terrazzo floor in Miami International Airport. The designer’s many projects also decorate her sizeable apartment. On the far wall is an enormous ink drawing of mother-of-pearl under a microscope. Hanging near the entrance is Soul Catchers, a 450-piece collection of glazed porcelain skulls that have the appearance of being eroded away by ocean currents. Just like her home, Oka Doner’s enduring 40-year career is an homage to the outside world and a celebration of the planet’s natural resources.

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