At Capriques, Nails Are the Canvas

by Indira Ichsan
26th January 2024
From gem-clad claws to Y2K chrome accents, nail art continues to fascinate. In Jakarta, studios like Capriques have embodied the movement, giving rise to unconventional designs as a canvas for self-expression.

Nail art has spoken for those itching to express themselves. What began as signifiers of subcultures brewing in neighbourhood nail salons has blossomed into a phenomenon embraced by the masses, bearing fruit to ever-evolving nail art creations; whether it’s venturing into the macabre with decaying teeth nail designs pioneered by nail artists in Russia, or feeling confident in gem-clad talons popularised in the Bronx, nail art is increasingly welcomed by a diverse audience who started to embrace it as part of their identity.

Capriques, a nail art studio in South Jakarta, came in as one of the many distinct styles emerging from the phenomenon. Like a pair of golden hoop earrings or bright poppy red lipstick, “Nails have become part of your accessories,” said Desfira Ainikhaira (better known as Dashfir), co-founder of Capriques—and it’s safe to say the city’s younger crowd are inclined to agree. Though comparably nascent in Jakarta, its budding creative scene is quick to catch on, turning iridescent, three-dimensional nails into habitual accessories for day-to-day.  

Dashfir’s early experience with nail art was during her time as a creative director at design studio LIKO Sukhoy, when she began incorporating press-on nails for editorial photoshoots. Intrigued, the 26-year-old was then encouraged to open her own practice, starting from experimenting on her own fingernails to now pursuing international certifications in cosmetology. Being well-acquainted with the local creative community, Dashfir’s circle of friends from musicians and writers to performers became the nail studio’s very first customers. From there, words spread.

“Taking inspiration from elsewhere is fine, but our clients want their own designs,” said Dashfir, who studied design and applied arts at Universitas Katolik Parahyangan in Bandung. Specialising in what many would label a Cyber-Y2K aesthetic—a revival of the 2000s fashion trend—Capriques’ creations are often characterised by vibrant jewel tones, chrome accents, tribal lines, and fluid, blob-like shapes juxtaposed over sharp angular spikes. Employing tools from an airbrush spray gun to dip chrome powder, the limit is one’s imagination: gems, chains, lace, buttons, and even mini chandeliers have all appeared on customers’ fingers.

“We simply treat nails as a canvas where various art designs can be created.”

One of the most sought-after Capriques’ services is the Mystery Manicure, where one can come in for a custom nail design at the liberty of the technician. A client’s outfit, Instagram feed, and music preferences are all clues for the kind of design in mind, resulting in a collaboration that combines both the customers’ suggestions and the nail artist’s tastes. “Because of how personalised our nail designs can be, it becomes easy to spot imitations,” said Dashfir. “But this is also one of our ways to connect and get closer with our clients, and that becomes a fun experience on its own.”

Following in the footsteps of genderless fashion, skincare and makeup, the nail art experience also extends its appeal to men, who increasingly embrace nail art as part of their grooming routine and personal style—an observation that Dashfir also sees from the number of male customers who pay a visit to Capriques’ studio in Gandaria. “We’re not surprised. Although we’re not pushing for any narrative, we simply treat nails as a canvas where various art designs can be created.” One of their loyal customers is a local male singer (whose name wished to be undisclosed) who has made neon colours his onstage persona—this extends to hair, apparel, and of course, nails. “Now it’s become his identity, his signature.” 

Capriques’ nail art designs have also landed on the runway, working together with fashion designer Harry Halim for his SS24 Couture collection to create custom full nail sets for Jakarta Fashion Week back in October. “Harry showed us the collection first and requested something that you can notice from far away. So we thought that super-duper long nails would be perfect.” The result was theatrical pearl-clad claws in the collection’s dark and bold colour palette of black, white, chrome, and blood red—a statement piece on its own. 

Other exclusive collaborations also include Marc Jacobs and Guess for their 2023 collection releases, expanding further into beauty brands like Kerastase and Shiseido to create more experiences surrounding nail art. Dashfir, who plans to collaborate with international nail artists in the future, has a simple thing to say about this evident evolution in nail art and its surging fascination. “Everyone’s searching for another way to be ‘out there’. Just pretty is boring. We need to find ways to bring out one’s personality, and there is much to be explored through your nails.”