Over the weekend, one Gigi Hadid posted a carousel of photos that had those of us who love nothing more than salivating over Architectural Digest's Open Door videos shaking. Accompanying the photos, Hadid wrote, "Spent all of last year designing and curating my passion project / dream spot." Shortly after sharing, the internet was abuzz with questions about her design choices, including the trough of pool balls that sat on her kitchen counter, the giant yellow pen that leaned up against the wall outside her powder room, and most notably, the pasta facade cabinets. As a lover of carbs and judging rich people's homes, I had to know more about these pasta cabinets.
Luckily for me, Hadid highlighted many of the people she worked with to create her colorful and quirky new pad. "I'm excited for the time I'll get to spend enjoying all the special corners that were made with a lil help from some of my favorite creatives (tap!) who embraced my ideas and didn't call me crazy," she wrote in the Instagram caption. She also tagged Salty Seattle in the image featuring those cabinets.
Salty Seattle, a colorful pasta company started and run by Linda Miller Nicholson, may ring a bell because the founder's colorful pasta art, which is created using plant-dyed pasta, is fairly famous. Salty Seattle has over 276,000 followers on Instagram, and Miller Nicholson has made pieces for other celebrities including Katy Perry, Camila and Matthew McConaughey, and Snooki. She even has a book called Pasta, Pretty Please, which is filled with colorful pasta recipes, techniques, tips, and inspiration. Even with her bustling business, the viral food artist found time to chat with me about her work on Gigi Hadid’s cabinet creation.
When Miller Nicholson picked up my phone call, she shared that she had just been working to match Ruth Bader Ginsburg's skin tone in pasta, and I knew immediately that this was going to be an interesting conversation.
It turns out that Hadid is among Salty Seattle's 276,000 Instagram followers and has been a supporter of the artist's work for some time. Miller Nicholson even called Hadid "one of the first people that made me feel okay about calling myself a pasta artist with a degree of legitimacy." Thanks to mutual respect for one another's work, the two talked occasionally on Instagram DMs, and when the model began work on her house, she tapped Miller Nicholson for help.
Unlike other celebrities the artist has worked with, Hadid reached out personally via Instagram to discuss her vision. "She was like, 'I have this kind of crazy pasta idea. I want to build this facade," Miller Nicholson shared. Initially, though, the artist insisted it was a no-go and listed all the reasons it wouldn't work. "Fresh pasta by its very nature is a perishable item. I'm not a pasta factory that makes extruded pasta out of big machines and dyes and then puts it through a commercial drying process. Plus, if you were to do something like that, they would eventually break and crack and fragment overtime just being in that environment." Still, Hadid said, "I think you can make it possible." So the two began working on the logistics.
Miller Nicholson suggested that she make the colorful pasta and then take photographs of it that could then be embedded into the facade of the cabinets. "She was like, 'Nope,'" the artist shared. So they continued to go back and forth via Instagram messages about R&D for about six weeks as Miller Nicholson figured out a way to make the art permanent.
Finally, the artist landed on a process that worked but took a lot of time and attention to detail. "I probably touched every single piece of pasta in there — like went through with my hands personally for 10 to 15 minutes per piece. It was a four-day process of a very light boiling, drying, oiling, and lacquering so every piece had to be hand-manipulated over quite a long period of time," she explained. "I essentially had to turn my entire culinary classes studio into a painting space so during that time it was not producing anything that I would want to be ready-to-eat in there. I like to joke that I've been wearing a mask for a lot longer than most people because all of October and November, I had one of those huge respirator masks on."
Though it sounds like Hadid was asking for a lot, Miller Nicholson says that she really liked that the model was involved in all of the design decisions and had strong opinions she wasn't afraid to share. When I asked how in the world Hadid came up with this concept, the artist said, "It goes back to her whole approach to creativity and art. She thinks outside the box. I think we're coming into an age where things can be art that previously were not. No one would ever really consider pasta to be a medium, but she loves pasta and she has always been into this whole colorful side of things.”
Hadid showed Miller Nicholson the Missoni fabrics that she was using to cover the Roche Bobois sofas, and the artist used that as a visual juxtaposition for the pasta. "It was really important that those colors were complementary to one another and even the patterns. So, as you get up close and personal with those pieces of pasta, you can see that they do even mimic that Missoni-esque quality." She explained that coming up with how they were going to weave the colors together was the most interesting aspect of the project. "That also made it really rewarding and satisfying when the whole thing came together."
Miller Nicholson has noticed that quite a few folks on the internet have voiced puzzlement over the pasta facade kitchen cabinets, as well as the aesthetic of Hadid's home overall. According to her, this has made it clear that everyone has very different perspectives when it comes to design and color. "I looked at the initial pictures that started going out, and I was like, you know, I could probably fit 10 more rainbows in that. Then I read all of this feedback from people who are like, 'God, she's really not afraid of color, is she?’ It's so funny how it's all just a matter of perspective because to me it's subdued and refined," she told me.
The fact that Hadid took a risk with the colorful pasta cabinets reflects why she's always supported Miller Nicholson's work and what the artist respects most about the model. "The world just judges instantly," she says. "I think it's very cool that she has this perspective of embracing art that isn't necessarily of a classical medium."