Manus x Machina: Pleats & Folds (Part 1)


NTNA returns with the first part of the final challenge sponsored by CND. The Season 4 finale is based on the 2016 Met Ball theme and art exhibit Manus x Machina. We asked our Top 3 to utilize both handmade and machine-made processes (think 3-D printing, etc.) to make high-fashion nail art. The first set is inspired by pleats and folds.

Nails were to be done on 10 nail tips (any size). In terms of nail supplies, contestants were allowed to use any items necessary as well as unconventional materials. Each artist also had to submit a video diary and Pinterest board of their process. CND’s Jan Arnold then critiqued each set.

Here are the looks they created:

Jonny Pham

I was particularly drawn to three images provided to us. I found that the images provided were fashion designs by the designers Iris van Herpen and Noa Ravic. Delving further into their amazing work, I was stunned by their innovative techniques and their clever manipulation of materials. One thing that both designers have in common when it comes to their designs is their thinking outside of the box.

The colors scheme I opted for is black and white, as I wanted it to portray a modern yet futuristic set.  I merged this with gold and nude to scream high fashion.  I also incorporated embellishments to bring out that luxurious and opulent feel.

Manus x Machina comes from Latin and roughly translated, means “hand versus machine.” This challenge and the whole process has been a learning curve for me and has taken me on a journey of exploration to the unknown. I’ve pushed my own creative boundaries and have taken adventures through my artwork to places I’d never thought I’d get to.

Click here to see Jonny’s Pinterest board.

Click here to see a video diary of Jonny’s nails.

Jan’s Feedback: “Overall the nails are chic, sophisticated, clean, and true to your very clear perspective. Love the Art Deco interpretation of the theme! They are super chic and even wearable. We loved the gelled origami folds – the execution on this was very effective. Please take calculated design risks to allow you to diversify the theme and integrate a variety of new techniques. Push the limits of your design ideas, techniques, and scale. This is the time to go avant-garde and couture. You balanced the manus (man-made) with the machina (machine made) elements of the challenge beautifully! Handmade pleats and folds came together with machine-made chains and crystal beautifully.”



Liina Leino

For this challenge, we were asked to make a set that took inspiration from clothing folds. Since I was small, I have sewn a lot with my mother who is a textile artisan and loves graphical clothes. I made this set with her as well as Japanese and Scandinavian clothing design in mind. I wanted to keep my work as clean as possible, so I used black and white as theme colors. The colors also helped me to highlight the lines of my work. The set was to be made on 10 nail tips, so I decided to divide the color palette between both hands; white on the right and black on the left. The right hand got a sharp finish thanks to the white paint and the angular design, whereas the left hand got a smoother finish thanks to the smooth folds and dark color. I made my set using acrylic and CND Shellac. Despite its darkness, simplicity, and coldness, this set still represents warmth to me. This work is something my mother could share with me.

Click here to see Liina’s Pinterest board.

Click here to see a video diary of Liina’s nails.

Jan’s Feedback: “Overall,  the nails are avant-garde, inspired, and unique! Love the graphic all black and white color story done in interesting textures to make them new and manus looking. The scale of the art proves no boundaries in your thinking. The techniques behind the folds and pleats are all very creative and simple but very impactful. The artistry is restrained but wild. We love it! Your set of nails were all manus and no machina – be sure to carefully research and execute the challenge thoroughly to balance both requirements.”

Tracey Lee

It came as no surprise that the final challenge from CND would be fashion-related; it goes without saying as CND is at the forefront of fashion and technology in our industry. The part that really threw me off was the fact that the challenge needed to be partly handmade and partly machine-made.

In an interview with Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, she explains that research is essential and takes time to understand the available technology. She also stated that she needed to change her entire process by starting first with the machine-made part and then working from there. I did my research on the site of Manus X Machina as well as watching a couple of episodes of Project Runway to get an idea of how these two processes may be integrated.

I have put on the hat of chef, origami master, and seamstress for the machine-made part of the challenge. I have used these processes as a starting point and integrated and enhanced them with other elements created from our traditional products (LED gels, monomer and polymer, nail lacquer) used in a creative way.

The inspiration behind the colors not only comes from the fact that these blues, greens, purples, and golds are found in the color palettes for 2017, but also from one of my favorite animals, the peacock. Depending on your spiritual views, the peacock has different meanings for different people. For me, the peacock symbolizes beauty, dignity, and renewal. The latter means this challenge has given me a completely new look at designing. I have used elements of the peacock throughout the design. I was also drawn to it from the layering aspect that the peacock has to offer (which ties in so well with the pleat and fold theme) as well as the rich colors. I have incorporated these colors in chromes in my design as this continues to be a huge trend in the nail industry into 2017.

I love Nicolas Ghesquière’s comment that “couture is an education for the eye.” He goes on to explain that when people first see haute couture they see it as crazy and state that they will never wear it, however as time goes on, it becomes more accessible and influences the world of fashion. I am hoping that with the innovative techniques that I have played with, I will have that same influence on the nail industry.

Click here to see Tracey’s Pinterest board.

Click here to see a video diary of Tracey’s nails.

Jan’s Feedback: “Mind-blowing amount of research, technical excellence, creativity, and diversity! Perfect execution of the theme of manus x machine – you delivered on the challenge thoroughly and brilliantly. The sewing machine and the 3-D printer exemplifies the duality we are looking for and you delivered it! Love the use of color and texture, shine, and dimension. There were so many new ideas here that you’ve given us all the gift of imagination and innovation with this set of nails. This set is both avant-garde and inspirational but they aren’t weird, they are strangely wearable. Keep pushing it!  You’re on the right track.”

Voting for the final sets of nails will take place here in March.