Words by Juule Kay
The world is changing, and with it, a new generation of trailblazers is taking over. In our new monthly series E-MERGING, we introduce the people adding to the cultural moment with their creative minds, new ideas and unique approaches. It’s a glimpse behind the scenes, a way to dig deeper and look beyond the picture-perfect outcome we’re swamped with every day.
Imagine a world out of jelly, filled with floating flowers, so precious you want to touch them with the tip of your finger. For cake artist Lila Steinkampf, this kind of fever dream is, in fact, reality. The trained graphic designer has been creating edible rose water infused artworks for almost two years now under the name of Steinkampf Flower Cakes. Every detail you discover immerses you in another layer of excitement. The same goes for nail designer Camilla Inge Vollbert, better known as @nailsvoninge. The 26-year-old Berliner studied fashion design before she wanted to learn how to do her own nails, and ended up with a new calling.
Thanks to the internet, both universes collide after Steinkampf reached out for some cake-inspired nails. Dedicated to creativity and finding inspiration in the most uncommon places, we wanted to know how much they influence and inspire each other’s works, and what they would come up with when changing professions for a day.
Let’s start with some buttering up. What do you like about each other’s works? Do you see some similarities?
Camilla: What I really love about Lila’s cakes is their depth. The longer you look, the more details you’ll discover. She’s mixing all these different textures and colours and gets beyond the surface, which I find really inspiring. I also love to play with textures and 3D elements when I design nails, and use a lot of chrome and metallic colours to create something that looks layered. I feel like both of our work is very complex and has some degree of organised chaos to it.
Lila: I see both of our work as temporary jewellery. For me, cakes make a table look more beautiful or precious. The possibility of eating them makes it more exciting, but you don’t have to.
C: Jewellery is something very personal, and I think that something that you eat is very personal, and something that you wear on your hands is, too. It’s all very connected to your body.
What are the most uncommon or unexpected places you get inspiration from?
L: I browse the internet and look at silicone moulds for bachelorette parties or baby showers. Even the packaging of cake has something very inspiring to it. I’m obsessed with these transparent boxes and printed ribbons. Everything I see is very toned down, I sometimes feel that people are still afraid of going wild and cheesy with decoration.
C: I actually get inspired by my own mistakes a lot. When I studied fashion design, I was told to discard ideas that I don’t like, but now I try to do the opposite. Every time something doesn’t work out, I just add layers to the nail. It also boosts your confidence because you learn how to trust yourself.
L: I freak out when things don’t work out the way I want them to. It’s always trial and error when working with a material that isn’t always controllable. I love to take photos of the steps in between because they often give me more pleasure than the actual cake itself.
Camilla, talk us through your creative process. What is the most fun part, what’s the most annoying one? How long does it take for a set of nails to be finished?
C: The most annoying part is of physical nature, I get a lot of back and neck pains. The most fun one is trying out new techniques and finding the missing puzzle pieces. It normally takes me anywhere between three to five hours depending on the set, if it’s press-on nails and if I’m doing them on the actual person.
Lila, what’s your go-to activity while baking? How much time do you need for a cake?
L: If I want to avoid mistakes, I need to be alone in the kitchen. I mostly listen to music, and when I have a really good day, I watch reality TV. Building up the base or cooking the jelly feels meditative, but my favourite part is decorating, when I see everything coming together. Overall, it takes me about six hours to finish a cake.
What was the weirdest request you ever received?
C: Pickle nails with little forks on them! It was for a performance which included the audience being fed with real pickles pierced on the nails. I love the weird stuff because I don’t want to do the same thing all the time.
L: There was this person who wanted a boob cake, which got me out of my comfort zone, and turned out really cute. I also created a booty cake for WHOLE Festival.
If you could change each other’s professions for a day, what would you create?
C: Miniature jelly cakes!
L: Nails out of buttercream.
Lila, I read through your comments and a lot of people want to cuddle your cakes, while others feel turned on. Can you relate to these feelings?
L: I am always surprised by what kind of emotions or reactions my cakes trigger in other people. These reactions make me so happy, even though I can’t always relate to them, as I’m having this tunnel vision when baking and I can’t always sense the mood of the final artwork.
Camilla, one of your comments says that your “nail designs are no longer a want, but a necessity”. How do you feel about this?
C: It’s definitely a necessity. I have been wearing nails non-stop for the past three years. The relationship with my body changes when wearing nails, and I would feel naked without them. It’s something very personal, and you get really attached to them. Nails also give you a lot of confidence, and can even be intimidating to others.
Lila, what does your birthday cake look like? Describe it only in moods.
L: Shiny and sparkly, but also dark and fruity. And of course, I want my name on it.
Camilla, what has been the last rabbit hole you’ve been going down?
C: Dollhouses and miniature furniture. I’ve been watching The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge, which is all about creating dollhouse interiors. I’m obsessed, and I might pick up a new hobby.
Lila, what creative experiment lies dormant in your mind?
L: I want to do flower moulds and build my own jelly gardens.
Camilla, what’s the best life hack with long nails?
C: Touching hot food.
Lila, describe the feeling when someone eats your artwork.
L: Happiness! The moment the cakes leave my door, I hope they will be appreciated to the max.