Nikola Kostic was born in Belgrade, Serbia in 1973. His parents gave him all they could, his younger sister adored him and simultaneously drove him crazy. In other words he grew up in an environment which was safe, kind and clear.
All that ended when the war with Bosnia and Croatia broke out in 1991. Nikola was drafted two years later, but luckily, he was never sent to the battlefield, though he witnessed things and lived through situations, which altered his worldview forever.
After one year in the army, he came back to Belgrade where life still seemed safe and normal. The city was so used to anti-war demonstrations, tanks on the streets, sanctions and the complete collapse of the economy, that people almost saw it as normal. In his early twenties Nikola was intensely involved with rock music; he was a lead singer in a band which was becoming famous in Serbia. Unfortunately, when his rock band fell apart at the age of twenty-four his promising future in music evaporated and he was left devastated.
Just a few months later, however, Nikola received a serendipitous offer from his uncle to help him with his booming jewelry business – in Bali. There wan no hesitation and he was on the next plane to Indonesia. For several years Nikola was designing silver jewelry, and finally became the business manager. At some point new photographs were needed for the company and so he bought a camera. A new passion and talent was born.
Soon it took over his life; he got assignments as a freelance photographer for the most prominent fashion brands in Bali, worked with the best hotels on their interior and exterior images, and he was invited into the most famous restaurants to do food photography. He never saw himself as a person who could specialize in just a narrow aspect of this art. His passion also included landscape photography, as well as interiors, fashion or food.
His life was full of amazing experiences in the past seventeen years – he lived with a Balinese family for two years, shared their lifestyle and fell deeply in love with their culture. He lived in stunning villas with pools and tropical gardens, enjoying all the comforts and guilty pleasures the island has to offer. He travelled extensively throughout the archipelago, sailing its seas as well.
Nikola met his future wife – a famous Russian designer and architect – in Bali. As fate would have it, she saw his photographs in an exhibition and fell instantly in love, well before meeting him in person.
Veronika moved to Bali in 2008. She was a well-established designer in Moscow, working on high budget private projects. She started in 1995, back then when the word “design” was still foreign to most Russians. She opened one of the first furniture showrooms in Moscow at the age of 26, her own interior design studio a year later, and was one of the main stars on a Russian version of an Interior Makeover TV program. By the age of 29 Veronika and her mother Tatiana Rogova, cofounded what is now the biggest school of design and architecture in Russia, “School of Design Details”, where she is still doing her much-anticipated annual lectures.
She was at the peak of her design career, but left it all behind. On one of her trips to Bali, through a string of almost magical coincidences – she found herself in a spot on the island, which she just could not leave. That spot a year later became Oazia Spa Villas – an award winning boutique hotel and spa. The years that followed were full of endless construction projects and business adventures, the highlight of which is Alexa – a luxury 30 meters Phinisi yacht.
So it was pre-ordained when Veronika and Nikola finally met. For several years, they have been working together on different projects, experimenting with food and interior photography, video art and graphic design. And for all those years Veronika and Nikola discussed the idea of making books. The more they talked about it – travel books, cook books, inspirational lifestyle books, the more both of them understood – no, actually felt – that it was only a matter of time before they materialized. They knew that one day it would happen.
They had been discussing the issue of moving from Bali for a while. The only problem is that they could not decide on where to move to. So they decided to stop asking that particular question because the world is so big, with so many treasures to discover, so many stories to hear, they chose a nomadic lifestyle.
They promised each other not to make too many plans, and to be open to any possible changes in travel itineraries. They bought big new suitcases and learned how to live without unpacking for weeks, sometimes months. And how to appreciate the moment when you actually do put your clothes in a wardrobe. They became immune to flight delays and cancellations. They stopped caring about time differences and jet leg. They have stayed in palaces and huts. They have had three breakfasts in one day and made sure that their dinners were feasts wherever they were. So their journey is a mission. They are always looking for a unique story to tell. A story of special places, where life as you know it turns into a fairy tale, when every day, every minute, every heartbeat is precious.
They founded DEFINE FINE publishing house in 2015 – an enterprise that allows them to perfectly combine their lust for travel, their love of books, their passion for all things beautiful, and their desire to share this passion with the world.