Streamlined steampunk with a Victorian flair wrapped up in an ashram, soldered together with elementary particles from the sea and sky. That’s how I would describe what I saw when I came across New Karma’s booth in Cascais, set up somewhere between the carousel and Happy Days Diner. It seemed an appropriate place for them to be positioned, since according to the artists, their work is meant to be a “road to reach all, without prejudices, without borders.”
Using the techniques of jewelry-making and sculpting, the line creates a novel dialogue with each passerby through “critical art,” according to New Karma‘s designer Nuno Kampos. He was nice enough to walk us through his process and explain some of the pieces to us after I had shown outright lust for everything on his table.
How old is New Karma and how did it begin?
New Karma started in 2005 when I finished my jewelry design course at Le Arti Orafe in Florence, Italy with the first collection, “The Water Line.” The ocean was my first inspiration, and it sill continues to be. The ocean is really a part of me — it gives me mental and spiritual well-being.
What’s your favorite material? Is there something that is somehow prohibitive you’d like to use more of?
I like all materials, but my favorite is metal. I would like to work with bones because of the history that brings, but it’s somehow forbidden.
How would you describe the customer you have in mind when you design and make your pieces?
It’s someone who cares about original and different pieces. It always depends on their country of origin, though. My experience tells me that a client from southern countries normally cares first about the price and then about the art piece. A client from the north normally cares first about the art, then the price. So I need to use different approaches for different people.
Are you involved in any community work or artist collective? If so, can you describe what that is and how people can find it?
Yes, we have an art and wellness project called Casa das Artes e Oficios, a place that brings art and handicrafts to the community, building a space for everyone to be themselves, express themselves, and experiment with materials. We hope this space will continue to inspire people to share what they do with others, and be themselves. Mainly I hope that people take the personality they have when we are all together and bring it to the streets.
Where do you go or what do you do to gain inspiration? What is your creative process?
As I mentioned before, I get a lot of inspiration from the ocean, but it also comes from silence — everything that brings me silence. Visiting the ruins of old civilizations, the mountains, driving a car, sitting in a park, even going to the toilet. My secret is silence.
Is there anything else I should know?
Because of my sculpture work, I’m changing the name of New Karma to Nuno Kampos, because it’s time to present my work as art and not as a brand. Don’t worry, though, the website will still be the same for next year or so. It’s only a small change so that all my clients can understand — it’s just a fusion of names and projects. Sculpture and jewelry will be one. New Karma is part of my past and now it’s time to make a new future.