I used to consider myself a bit of an interior design freak. Physically suffer from bad lighting, cry from the compulsion to sleep in an ugly house or roar with delight. Until I realised that this...
Both are architects by training. At university, they worked on the design of the same Japanese house, and after graduation - on conservation. Both felt at a similar point in time that, as a counterbalance to their online work, they needed to physically tire themselves out with something creative. Do something sustainable, as they don't want to produce new things. Both have found a passion for the craft and both of them claim that Japan somehow resonates with them. And although they have so much in common, in many ways they are opposites: two different energies with different backgrounds, that complement each other in a great way. Klaudia Piwowarska and Weronika Krygicz. Warp and Weft. Meet 'Remiosło' (from the Polish words re - repetition and miosło - from the Polish word craft) and remember this brand well, as you will soon hear more about them.
It's the second time we meet, as during our first meeting I was a little taken aback at the sight of Remioslo's work, and my daughter dragged me by the hand towards the doughnuts. From the first moments I was struck by their modesty, although it should be me to bow my head to them.
Your designs are captivating in their rawness and honesty. I like immensely how you renovate their wooden constructions, which are only sanded and oiled. So I'll start in a similar style, with the simplest of questions. Who are you? When did it all start? And why the string?
Klaudia Piwowarska: Weronika and I met during the architecture studies and we are still working in the profession. I work in conservation and Veronika designs interiors.
Weronika Krygicz: For a while Klaudia and I worked together on the restoration of historical buildings, and I worked in interior design at the same time. It quickly became apparent that it was difficult to reconcile these two jobs. I had to choose one of them, so I stayed with interiors.
Klaudia: I knew quite early on that I wanted to do architecture. From the beginning, I did a lot of things to get closer to this goal, such as taking drawing courses.
How did you know this so early on?
Klaudia: Ever since I can remember I have always drawn a lot and thought a lot about space and design. I liked the vision of creating something from scratch, turning an idea into something real and tangible. For a long time, I thought that this was exactly what I wanted to do, that this was the path for me. However, back in university, I was quite painfully confronted with the reality of design work, which requires spending hours in front of a computer screen, not necessarily in creative activities. And then, at the best possible moment, chairs came into my life.
Veronica, what was your path like?
Weronika: Architecture has always been present in my life because my mother is an interior designer. However, that doesn't mean that, like Klaudia, I already knew what I wanted to do in life from the sixth grade of primary school (laughs). It wasn't until I was in high school that I made the decision to study architecture. And I have to admit that working on the computer tired me just as much as Klaudia. It wasn't until we started working together that we agreed that spending all day at the computer wasn't what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. Or at least not just that. We were looking for some ideas to keep our hands busy with something other than the keyboard. The Covid-19 pandemic came along, I remember we were finishing designing a flat with my mother at the time and the idea of putting in a self-made armchair came to my mind. I threw in something about a woven seat. At first, even I myself was quite skeptical about the idea, but once I found and ordered the frame of my dreams, the strings arrived and we sat down with my parents to work on the project it started to feel real.
How long did it take you to make this furniture?
Weronika: About a month, I think. This was due to the fact that there was more looking at it and planning to it first, rather than any real work. That's just the way I am - I think about the weaving for a long time before I start working. Klaudia prefers to get straight down to business.
Klaudia, an idea matures in you as you work?
Klaudia: I think it's probably easier for me to decide what the final result should be. However, this makes me make more mistakes and I have to backtrack more often. That's why Weronika often puts the brakes on me and encourages me to think things through. I, on the other hand, speed up her decision-making process, in this way I think we complement each other well.
Weronica, and where did you get the idea to weave the seat of the chair? After all, you could have given it a classic restoration, sanding the wood, replacing the upholstery, etc.
Weronika: I guess it's because I like all kinds of crafts, handmade objects, it has become a form of a kind of meditation for me, a rest, something to occupy my hands rather than my head. I've also seen a lot of inspiration on the internet of how, nowadays mainly Japanese, craftsmen weave beautiful seats using a few nails and paper string. I also really like the Danish design of the 1960s and their woven chairs. In our collection we also have a very unique and beautiful chair designed by Danish designer Niels O. Møller.
Where do you draw inspiration for your projects from? We all move in the same world, we often see exactly the same things, and yet something different comes out of each artist's hands.
Klaudia: We are very inspired by art. There are several paintings that directly influenced our work. Either a certain colour combination or composition in them suited us. We then looked for a chair on which we could reproduce these elements. Of course, the final effect is then completely different. For one of our recent projects, for example, we thought a lot about the work of Vasily Kandinsky; we wanted to treat a piece of furniture like a canvas onto which we would apply 'patches of paint' in the form of string. As art students, we have long revolved around creative aesthetes and many ideas today just flow from us naturally.
Weronika: At the first stage of the creation of Remiosło, for example when preparing for a trade fair, we used to approach furniture projects in an even more workshop-like, conservative and timid way, testing different types of weave. Now we quickly get bored and start playing more boldly with colour and weave, sometimes creating images that surprise even ourselves.
Klaudia: Going back to the theme of inspiration, we are also both very fond of the work of Barnett Newman, who played with vertical division of paintings or, Piet Mondrian, although we are unlikely to plan to translate his works into one-to-one seating. We are also very inspired by architects such as Oscar Niemeyer.
Please tell me the story of your first joint project.
Weronika: It was the time of the fiercest pandemic, we were both locked in the same flat and we both had covid.
Klaudia: Weronika mentioned to me that she had made one plaited chair and asked if I would like to try to work with her on another project. I picked up on this quite quickly, especially as there were four old chairs standing at my parents' house at the time that I had always wanted to do something with. I remember we got a parcel from my parents at the time, right on the doorstep, which contained a lot of food and .... a chair. Already stripped of its old upholstery, ready to work on. The neighbours must have been really fed up with us then, because we did most of the restoration work in the flat, while everyone was working and studying in the flats at the time. Then the time came for three more of my parents' chairs. Everyone treated it as our hobby, but it soon started to get more serious ...
When did the first commercialisation take place?
Klaudia: Earlier this year, at Targi Rzeczy Ładnych (Pretty Things Fair). Since then, we have been busy all the time, as we were either fulfilling orders or preparing for the next fair.
You talk about the possibility of ordering a chair. Does this mean that it is possible to order a ready-made piece of furniture from you or rather that you bring in a piece of furniture that you weave.
Weronika: Depends. The purchasers usually bring their chairs, hockers or stools to us and we take them in after a prior online consultation. They don't say exactly what they would like to have, rather they send us pictures of their interiors or specify the colours they are interested in. They generally trust us.
Klaudia: I recall one lady who saw us at a fair, sent us pictures of her flat and said she was taking blindly what we would make for her. It was a bit frightening, but as it turned out later also hugely pleasing, because the end result delighted both her and ourselves.
How long does it take to complete one project?
Klaudia: This is a difficult question, it all depends on what you find under the upholstery. A great deal of time is consumed by preparing a piece of furniture for further work, i.e. restoration.
Weronika: If we were to take the most complex armchair as an example, I think it would be a week of continuous, honest work, from the removal of upholstery and varnish, through the creative stage of devising the concept, to the final result with the weaved seat and backrest.
Massive amount of work! Which only makes me appreciate your chairs even more. As you know nito nito to some extent is about designers who are inspired by Japan. And when I first encountered your designs, or even visited your profile on Instagram, I couldn't help but sense a Japanese aesthetic under the skin. Am I right? Have you ever been to Japan? I can see by your faces that I've just hit the jackpot!
Klaudia: Partly yes. I came into contact with Japan when I was still at university. Each student was given a house to work on graphically. And by some amazing stroke of luck, Weronika and I were given the same Japanese house to work on: the Tanikawa House. I remember being delighted with it. My key word for this project was emptiness. It had a strong effect on me. I started dabbling in the subject, looking for Japanese words, their writing in kanji (Japanese alphabet - note nito nito) and even making woodcuts. At the same time, there was an exhibition of Hokusai's work 'Journey to Edo' at the National Museum in Warsaw. We never assumed that Remiosło was to be in the Japanese spirit, but I have the impression that Japanese aesthetics flow from our works to some extent all the time.
Weronika: Japan has intrigued us since we were students, especially Japanese modesty in design or art. Now, when thinking about composition, choosing colours or even taking photos of finished designs, we are careful not to 'over-indulge' them too much. Japan is also at the heart of the concept of giving old objects new life, which is the idea behind kintsugi (filling cracks in ceramics with liquid gold - I wrote about it here, note nito nito) and one of the backbones of the Remiosło brand.
I sense this particular aesthetic in the light, or rather in the darkness, seen in your photographs (taken by Weronika - note nito nito).
Weronika: Generally, everything we have read or seen influences our aesthetics. We have two copies of 'The Praise of the Shadow' by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki at home (laughs). During our studies Klaudia always drew a round sun in the top right corner of each of her works, whether it was a country house or a house in Warsaw. She wanted it to be red, but it wasn't appropriate.
Klaudia: Japan definitely resonates with us. There is no getting away from it.
Weronika: I think we have a bit of a sentimental attitude towards the old things with Japan. When we carry out chair restoration, we never aim for perfection. We leave little scratches or dents, which are a natural sign of the passing of time and represent the history of a piece of furniture. And after all, one of the hallmarks of Japanese aesthetics is precisely to see beauty in the imperfect. As young designers, at the beginning of our journey, we rebel against the idea of flawlessness and appreciate what is impermanent, imperfect and sometimes incomplete.
I already know a lot about you guys, you do interiors professionally and I must admit I am very curious to know how Remioslo lives? What's your style?
Weronika: It will probably come as no surprise to anyone when I say that we are largely surrounded by old things. Since I was a child, I used to go with my parents and grandparents to flea markets in Podlasie (north-eastern Poland - note from nito nito). My grandmother taught me haggling techniques, which I haven't put into practice yet because I don't have the courage (laughs). Over the years, I have collected some old objects that I wanted to have in my flat. Among them, for example, is a theodolite, which is an old surveying stand that my mother and I converted into a lamp and wove a lampshade for it.
Klaudia: We are consistent in total inconsistency. We have, for example, a mass of different mugs or other raw or glazed ceramics. All rather in single copies and all being a souvenir of a certain time. We like to decide first thing in the morning in which mug we will drink our coffee, and thus where we will move for a while with our memories.
I'm with you. I especially appreciate wearable art brought back from my travels. Such objects convey their good energy beautifully. And while we're on the subject of travel, do you have any favourite destinations?
Klaudia: I have always been drawn to Scandinavia, to the north. Weronica prefers the south and warmer climates. And as I think about it, I realise that climate change is making the air temperature more and more unbearable in summer, and I am seriously frightened by the vision of what is happening to the world. Hence the philosophy of giving second life to existing objects. What disturbs me is the ease with which some people dispose of great quality objects. I often hear from people who look at our work that they had an identical armchair from their grandfather and today they regret getting rid of it once. It saddens me very much that people today replace wooden furniture with clapboard.
I couldn't agree with you more. It saddens me, too, that old things that have witnessed so many events, that have come into contact with living people who may no longer be with us, just end up on the rubbish heap.
Weronika: This is true. And speaking of people, Klaudia and I have to emphasise that in this journey of ours with Remiosło we have been accompanied from the beginning by friends and family who not only cheer us on and have never treated weaving as a passing fascination but also support us in these projects in a completely down-to-earth way by making their space available for the dirty work and even feeding us. We are very grateful to them for this and probably wouldn't be able to do it without them.
Klaudia: Ogromnie cieszy nas również to, że ludzie piszą do nas zupełnie bezinteresownie, że chcą nam podrzucić jakieś swoje stare krzesła, żebyśmy dały im drugie życie. To bardzo miłe.
Warm greetings to all the supporters, including my humble self. And now the obligatory question in every nito nito interview, i.e. your colour preferences. Do you have favourite colours or colour combinations?
Klaudia: This is a terrific question because we have thought about this many times. I don't know if you know, but when you study architecture you wear black, which is considered a very classic, elegant and serious colour (laughs). Everything, including the way you present your work is done in rather subdued colours. That's why this time after university is a period of colour discovery for us. Although we have been taught how to combine them, it is only now that we can really express ourselves in colour. I don't think we have any favourite colours at the moment, because it's constantly changing. At the moment I think I have a phase for pastels, which sounds like a joke for someone who has always opted for earthy colours.
Weronika: I'm currently a brown fan, but since our last project from the fair I think the ultramarine has come to the fore, as it's incredibly energising.
Yes! I wrote about it recently, pure hypnosis.
Weronika: I suspect that after a few wild blue chairs, the time will come for a new combination, because not so long ago we would never have even thought of such a colour combination. We are pleased and intrigued by the fact that, thanks to our woven seats, we are maturing colour-wise and exploring an art with which we were previously unfamiliar. Our colour preferences actually change from month to month and we are surprised by them ourselves.
In conclusion, I wanted to ask you about the future of the Remiosło brand. What direction are you heading in?
Klaudia: At the moment I think we would just like to do more projects, reaching an audience abroad as well. We are also thinking about other forms of handicrafts related to the theme of interior design, such as lamps or linocuts. There is still a lot to come.
With all my heart, then, I wish you that one day this passion becomes your job. It was a great pleasure to meet you and welcome you to the pages of nito nito.
Klaudia & Weronika: Thank you for the conversation!