Each item is a multiplicity of elements behind which there are many people. That is why I value the relationship with the people I work with so much.
Born in Warsaw (1982) in a family of artists. He graduated from product design at the Royal College of Art in London (MA 2010) and the Design Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (MA 2007). Founder of the KKID studio specializing in furniture. It cooperates with leading furniture manufacturers in Poland and abroad, e.g. Comforty, Castlery, IKEA, Mdd, Noti, Tamo, Only. His projects have been awarded e.g. in: FX International Design Award, German Design Award, Good Design, IF Design Award, Good Design Award, Must Have. Krystian received the title of Designer of the Year awarded by the Institute of Industrial Design.
Krystian Kowalski & TAMO
Can you tell us a few words about your design background?
I always emphasize that I work a lot manually, trying to get the form I designed in the computer by hand. I have my own pattern shop where I create prototypes in polystyrene, substitute material or the target material, e.g. wood. For me, it is the basis that enriches the project . I didn't come up with anything new here, because in the design process, it was always the case that something that was created in the conceptual phase on a piece of paper was then tested in a physical model. The thing is that in the work of a designer is a rarity today. The whole process is usually transferred to producers who have the right place and all the necessary machines and tools. There is certainly a big saving in this, but for me as a designer, unfortunately, it is also a loss, because some things cannot be predicted and noticed without this stage. Outside the workshop space, the so-called In addition to the dirty space, I also have a separate clean space where I work in a specific design program. Although, in fact, working on a computer can be done anywhere, even in a caravan, as it was in my case a few days ago.
Is this stage of work on the project, i.e. creating a prototype, the most important for you and has the greatest impact on the final result?
I think that the concept phase is of great importance, because it requires a lot of focus, creativity and innovation, although it is known in advance that some things cannot be jumped over. It's a bit like facing the ceiling of your own head. Demanding, but also gives a lot of satisfaction. The workshop stage involves physical effort and requires much more time than designing something in a 3D program. You need support, but also a lot of willingness to make this process beneficial. After a day at the machines, I feel really tired, but I also feel that something happened that day and I really enjoy it.
What is the main common value of working with Tamo for you?
I certainly enjoy the opportunity to work with solid wood and other precious materials. It is a brand with a very coherent vision, it has sincerity and consistency with its own DNA. This applies to both the choice of raw materials and the craft part - the scale of production, which is based on locality. This is a very romantic vision for me. Knowing the qualities of Tamo, I could confidently propose cooperation with Kejim. This always strengthens the brand and influences other products. In my case, it also increases my ambitions, because I measure my own thinking about a given brand with what someone whose work I value thinks about it. This collision is always stimulating and allows for a broader view. In this sense, it is a benefit for everyone.
Could you indicate the most important value that makes the product unique?
Details and nuances - it's there! As with Arche. When I think of designs that I like, it's usually about the advancement of the concept - the talent of the designer versus the courage of the manufacturer. You can see when the project was a challenge for technology, machines and required a lot of commitment during the entire production process. Often it is in this flawlessly made detail that everything is encoded. I like the process of decoding, recognizing a concept that is on the borderline of art and design or is measured by some archetypes, extracting its essence. This is what I always look for, both as a designer and as a recipient.
Can you tell us about the target group of your projects?
I won't answer that question because I don't like categorizing people. It is an unnecessary surplus of the corporate world, of strategic agencies
and advertising. And I don't believe in this world.
How would you describe the main idea that accompanies you while designing?
Przede wszystkim chcę robić rzeczy, które mają wartość, a relacje, które towarzyszą powstawaniu produktu mają ogromne znaczenie w tym procesie. Każdy przedmiot to wielość elementów, za którymi stoi bardzo wielu ludzi. Dlatego tak bardzo cenię sobie relację z osobami,
z którymi pracuję – czy to w siedzibie Tamo czy w fabryce na produkcji. Bez nich, bez ich zaangażowania i wiary w sens konkretnego produktu, trudno byłoby uzyskać dobrą jakość. Finalnie dla wszystkich to odbiorca jest najważniejszy. Zależy mi, żeby życie codzienne
w przestrzeni materialnej miało trochę lepszą jakość, żeby człowiek miał przyjemność z korzystania z przedmiotów codziennego użytku. Bardzo cenię sobie w projektowaniu to, że w przeciwieństwie do sztuki, produkt może docierać szerzej, może być dostępny. Ale to wymaga szerszego spojrzenia, a nie polegania tylko na własnym ego i własnym rozumieniu projektu.come customers to your store.
You mentioned creativity. How do you release it in yourself, what influences you?
Certainly, the direct inspiration is the outside world, because although sometimes you would like to function in isolation from what is behind the door, it is the "outside" that is the source of motivation and stimuli. Also the egoic ones. What feeds me, I find in art. I am interested in combining free activities as part of creating pure art with what design is, which must meet specific requirements that cannot be escaped. Looking for borders or common intersecting places of art and design. I am very impressed by the things that Constantin Brancusi did, as well as other trends where solids and planes have to be read in a certain way.
Was the Shapes table you designed for Tamo an attempt to combine these worlds?
Yes. With this project I had full freedom, there were no client assumptions, hidden expectations in the background or even a brief. I only heard that a solid wood table was to be created. The lack of limitations made me realize that I was dealing with a different kind of thinking and sensitivity of a designer for a designer. I was able to break away from the rigors of production and focus on what I felt. This triggered ambitious stimuli that are extremely stimulating at work. As a designer in such a situation, I want to give even more of myself. In Shapes, each model is made of four basic solids that can be put together in very different ways, thus obtaining a completely different design. So I started to synthesize some solids, introduce them into different relationships to each other so that new systems would emerge. This free operation with shapes meant that, apart from one optimal one, which I chose, a whole collection began to be created, which I did not take into account at the design stage. In this way, variations on these objects began to live their own lives, also allowing for some kind of customization. It was of great value to me. .
Was it as satisfying to create the Arche chair?
Extremely. Arche was created from the archetype of simplicity and uncompromising nature. These are the components of this project. I wanted to maintain the uncompromising nature of the shape, to keep the archetype in its original stage. At the same time, I wanted the chair to be visually pleasing and to encourage people to use it. Arche is the maximum simplicity of the chair while drawing out details that make it not just another simple chair. We are talking about nuances that affect the whole and they make this project. Without them, a very raw and unhewn product would be created. The final one is something on the verge of an archetype, but it has a certain elegance and gentleness..
And what about the Blop hanger?
Blop is sort of a side effect, a splinter of good communication with Tamo. In cooperation, it is important for me to get to know each other better with each project, also on a social level. It must be accompanied by the pleasure of communing with each other, talking about work and more. So we had this conversation once where the phrase "I have a good turner" was mentioned and before I knew it my thoughts and concepts that I had in my head and that I had no plan for - I didn't even know what exactly they were - led me to this hanger . In this cooperation, there is no more sniffing, lurking, checking. It's just pure flow. When that tipping point is crossed and unfamiliarity gives way to openness, even better things start to emerge.
What are you currently working on for Tamo?
We are working on an armchair that will be made of wood and leather, i.e. traditional materials that refer to the history of craftsmanship. In the project, I want to refer to the history of design and old craft techniques, look at the history of furniture and look for a contemporary answer. So again, we are talking about breaking an archetype, giving it a contemporary character that will be understood today. Otherwise, it would be a copy of a piece of furniture from the 1950s or 1960s, which is not what I wanted at all.