Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The 'Ikea'fication of Interior Design and Task-Rabbit'azation of Labour' - a diminishing of creativity;

 Chapter 1 - Handy Design - Modern Ideas, a school;

So this has been sitting with me heavy. Everywhere I turn all I hear 'shortage of skilled labour'. Let me tell you, NOBODY designs for 'skilled labour'. In fact, the opposite is true - every element of interior design is being pushed to be simpler for labour. Less labour equals less costs and today, with very few concerned, entire industries are going that way - intellectual property rights violations are rampant and unenforceable. 

Fight back the only way you can - regain the power and creativity of your own labour. I talk about Historic Design Event of 2020 when thousands of office workers left their super-organized and ergonomic cubicles [or open concept; whichever], left their commutes behind and suddenly found themselves forced to be productive at home, where they live. Talk about a blur between home and office! Think about the revolution of work culture! 

'HOW 2 BUILD a Home Office?' is the number 1 question that I get these days.

IKEA revised their office lineups and production methods in response to this event! If you ever go on REDDIT - specifically r/IKEA and r/IkeaHacks you can witness the pent-up demand for creativity and practical solutions. Demand for stepping 'outside' of the 'Task Rabbit allowed activity'.

It's more practical to learn the concepts of Ikea Hacking and Peak Furnishings than......? Than what?

To Be Continued

Monday, June 7, 2021

IKEA Hacking Course - All questions will be answered ~TEACHABLE~


[picture shows a WILLIAM bookcase - short BILLY bookcase hack, open box split into 2 halves, with the lower half having sliding doors with a decorative metallic screen. According to the author of this post this is an example of 'Peak Furnishings']

Chapter 1 - How to scale this up? THAT is the question.

I can't answer ALL the burning questions of 'How do I.....?' even tho I really want to. I can't visit every home, condo, dwelling, loft, barn or a school bus that I am invited to and give a 'design opinion' on what is the best course of action. 

**But I do want to help.**

I am an educator at heart, passionate about quality and craftsmanship. I live exactly what I preach - nothing beats a great functional solution that doesn't cost a million dollars! I have accumulated thousands of hours of intimate, detailed work with IKEA's most popular and practical products: PAX, SEKTION, BILLY, BESTAs.... you name it! I know how to work magic with these boxes. 

That's right - it looks like a million bucks every time, mainly due to the design, optimized - imagine a very elegant, a very beautiful solution that also is super functional and it is meant exactly for your space. 

You know what I call those 'Optimized Designs'? I call them 'Appropriate' - everything is as it should be - your budget is good; your space is great; your comfort level is awesome; and you are just loving it - and that's luxury. 

Every IKEA box has strengths and weaknesses and it's important to make the right decisions. Yea, save money, but get it RIGHT! - I think Jules** is fudging thru a 'pantry project' right now!

** IKEA created me. **

It was a natural and organic process. I like being efficient. I enjoy taking on projects, no matter how simple, and then realizing their full potential - like my own household. When you have 4 babies and you live in a tiny space absolutely everything needs to be resolved. 

There is only 2 types of furnishings in my household, including the children's room:

A] IKEA Hacks

B] Fully Custom Pieces

I have made IKEA my renovation partner and I encourage you to do the same. When I weigh the costs of solutions that I can achieve via IKEA Hacks it becomes mind boggling - I've hacked every single item on my CORE 4 list [that's from my course! you learn about IKEA's Core 4 boxes...].

**'I'm not a fancy man.'**

I'm not a fancy man and I can totally appreciate IKEA's functionality. But what if things change? 

What if you buy a house, and for now it's just you. What if you now work from home and need a home office? What if you get married? Have a kid. Have a second kid. Have a third kid [why not! you already got 2 and you love babies anyways]. What if you get a promotion, start making more money. What if you climb the corporate ladder and make even more money.  What if you develop a taste for finer things in life....? 

It's OK. 

Everything that you have designed and built is compatible with the 'IKEA Standard'.  Going into the future, every IKEA shelf, pull out, insert, box, hanger, rod, organizer, tray, absolutely everything - will work with the design you create.

AND you can always change the doors. 

This is my favourite part of IKEA Hacking - it is! - your designs are always flexible and dynamic. IKEA comes out with new fittings, new organizers - we are talking functionality galore! - all the time. If you like something you can always bring it in. You can swap things in and out. You got an extra kid - you change your closets - that is the process, literally. Or maybe something catches your eye in the new catalogue and you kick out a KOMPLEMENT shelf for fancy looking KOMPLEMENT tray. DONE! That's what you really needed all your life anyways. 

And think about what you can do about your kitchen...? Firstly it looks like a million bucks, because you followed my instructions - you will make 'appropriate choices' for your budget and design. Door and panel replacement on a whim - greatest asset; and never underestimate that. Kitchens or built-ins these days need to last long time - 25 years is a good number. You will feel liberated during the install of your SEKTION boxes - guaranteed. Instead being frustrated with being accurate, you will focus your efforts on finishing details that matter and set the final tone all while keeping quality top notch - it will be easy, I promise.

**Leverage the 3rd party.**

We all need a little help in our lives. Sometimes the smartest thing we can do is ask for it. When the job seems overwhelming, or you lack the skill/equipment to do it properly then break it up into smaller chunks and outsource it. Do it at your own pace - there are many ways to go about a task. 

From hiring for assembly to small fabrication to 'getting a sheet of plywood ripped for strips', I will point you in the RIGHT direction. 

And don't forget the bottomless ecosystem of third party suppliers! Not quite digging the door line-up at IKEA but still desiring the savings of the box....? I assure you that there is a door for you out there.  This is what I mean when say 'ALWAYS compatible with the IKEA Standard'.  You see....? There are only advantages! And I will help you unlock it. 

**Quality and Design**

Quality and Design is always the focus of every course offered. 'Modern Ideas' section of the school tackles the challenges of being handy in the 21st century. We should aim to seize all the technological and production advancements that are available to us and leverage them to our advantage. The dwellings that we purchase today - especially the mass built - often are substandard when it comes to storage and organization - a fancy fancy address that doesn't come with any proper storage is a reality for many. 

Improve your space following proven design advice and done with methods that inspire confidence in your own work. Dramatically improve on the traditional warranties - in some cases resurrect ailing mill work - it is hard to find good quality labour today, yours is the next best thing. 

'Modern Ideas' is the one place on the Internet where IKEA Hacks make sense in Home Improvement - no 'cabinet gymnastics', no 'risky arrangements' - just a straight up awesome IKEA functionality dressed up as you like. 

You will learn how to develop your own aesthetic via the IKEA Hack - avoid the 'Ikea'fication of design.  Do you really want another kitchen in your living room?

With the right tools and methods it will be easy to improve on IKEA's initial offering - handy is the new cool and you will love the savings. 

**This is where it happens.**

We will start off just like everybody else - with a wall. We will build courses based on a natural progression starting with learning how to fabricate a solid and strong based for you kitchen box. We will then expand that base into other systems - PAX, BILLYs and then BESTAs. Yea... we will start with that.... See you on the other side!

**Jules, from IKEAHackers.net; I'm on her mailing list; Yea, that's right, I like watching other people's hacks too! Some are really really good and I am planning on actually doing an 'inspired' version of her recent posting, that gorgeous PAX hack with those gorgeous doors. It will tie-in beautifully with my 'why build your own base' video - this will be the practical follow up. Infinitely useful for islands and peninsulas or some built in seating - LIMITLESS possibilities - super level and easy to setup [good laser level needed]. Yea, it basically opens the doors to sky high BILLYs - make it a WILLIAM instead, chose any... absolutely any tall base and match it to the BILLY in an elegant fashion. Arches are HOT! learn how to design them and get them cut. Yeezus! I do top notch work, and I love it! 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Business of LUXURY and I prefer APPROPRIATE [.....but still cool!]

Picture shows a newly built, out-of-character for the neighborhood house in Etobicoke, by the lake, where the author of this post resides. 

Prologue: Knowledge, understanding and respect of the building process - CRAFTING - from design to fabrication - will allow you to make appropriate choices and selection when time will come to renovate your own space. Avoid common misconceptions, social media hypes and industry myths that lead you to spend more money that you need to. 

Let's START!

Picture shows young Karol Kosnik installing hardwood flooring over a Warmboard - US-developed building technology that allows for installation of solid wood over radiant floors.

Picture shows young Karol Kosnik resting on a freshly laid-up, slip-matched, sliding ebony door for a media unit. This particular door went into the private residence of Canada's most famous lawyer. This is an 'artistic photo' from my DeStijl Days - it was a period in my life when I was obsessed with an art movement called DeStijl - I would impose some strict rules for 'living my life', not austere in any way, more like a 'creative direction' - focus was always on craft. 

Chapter 1 - Private Passions: Quality and Craftsmanship, how it started. 

I wasn't that young man - I didn't know what I wanted 'to do for the rest of my life'. I did not come from privilege and I had to work hard to pay off my student loans when I dropped out of university; I wanted to be an engineer. It was a career choice that both my parents and my grandma supported. My parents because as fresh-2-Canada immigrants - I'm a naturalized Canadian myself - they saw this as a meal ticket to a 'better life'. My grandma of course was completely enamoured with the 'White Collar' and 'bossing others around'.

Once a young man drops out of school where is he to get a job but a construction site, huh?

There were other options, of course, but the idea of spending excessive amounts sitting in front of a computer screen which I already did while taking computer programming courses [Java.....Java in 28 days.....Java in 7 days ..... Java in 24 hours....hahaha] did not entice me and I preferred jobs where I was not static. 

For first few years I cycled thru the 'entire ecosystem of woodworking' - framing, carpentry, trim-carpentry and hardwood flooring. It was with hardwood flooring that I really discovered that I enjoyed 'wood as a medium' - I was able to use wood [in all its forms] to construct practical structures that gave people shelter, provided comfort, created delight and sparked joy. In some ways it's quite intoxicating and you get a rush when you hand over that final result to the client - they love it... and they can't get enough.

When I entered flooring full time as a subcontractor I already had an extensive collection of woodworking tools and I topped it when I bought myself an older Dodge RAM 350 van. It was a short, stocky, heavy duty grey thing with an emergency lights on top - a BELL Canada van.... To this day I get a small chuckle when I write how I do 'emergency flooring' on my Instagram posts - I do occasionally do floors, mainly really nice Moncer installs, where every board matters, or I floor for friends.

As an independent contractor I worked for most reputable companies in the GTA [I always say that no.1 company in the GTA is Darmaga Hardwood Flooring for a reason] and my projects took me to some of the most prestigious locations in Toronto. I floored for the rich, famous and influential. I worked on projects where the word 'budget' did not exist. I worked in the presence of privately owned Picasso  - and a pretty big one too! Not one of those little scribbles....!

Did you know that you can turn any wood into flooring? That's right - everything from exotics to reclaimed lumber....

Picture shows a reclaimed pine siding from a demolished home re-purposed into flooring. Random widths / Random lengths. This project was a wedding gift to a really good friend and I would consider this to be my 'Peak Flooring' project. 

My wife suggested that since I enjoy wood and woodworking so much that I should further my education in 'that department'. After looking into various post secondary programs I settled on Crafts and Design program from Sheridan College: Furniture Design.  ~that was a wild ride~

I went into the program already quite skilled in technical aspects of woodworking and my focus was more on the ~design aspect~: exploring materials and forms and putting it all in the historical perceptive.  My education enabled me to contextualize and compartmentalize many of the projects I worked on in the past - I began to see decisions making process behind the choices. I began to understand - it was like 'fabrication' + 'humanity'. 

While at school I got a scholarship to spend my summer at Nienkamper - that's like an equivalent of Herman Miller but in Canada. I spent my days working on the floor of manufacturing plant that produced objects of impeccable quality that would be shipped all over the world. I got to upholster the base of the first ever Cloud Chair [google that beast] by Karim Rashid - it was prototyped that summer there by a visiting German craftsman.

It was fascinating to witness the birth of an icon by a modern designer - obviously there is historic context to the design but I spent more time talking to those actually working on the project. Considerations were given as to the ease of fabrication of the frame; how are we going to upholster this?; how are we going to deal with the 'warranty calls' - you would be surprised how a well meaning design turns into a production nightmare when you realize that the design has an 'excessive number of warranty calls'.  My Nienkamper Summer, as I like to call it, was truly an eye-opening experience for me - knowledge I gained; the ingenuity I witnessed; the experience I admired, yearned for and was jealous of - all that - is still very much with me to this day. 

Passion for quality doesn't go away, rather it grows stronger everyday that you focus and grow your craft.

Chapter 2 - What is APPROPRIATE and what is UNNECESSARY ?

Do you want to get philosophical?

I know, it's just interior design, but bear with me. We will start off with the following statement: 

** I think we all have a bit of passion for interior design - at minimum for our own space; some more than others. **

**I also want to mention that we will only be dealing and talking about residential construction as that is my forte.**

I strongly believe that the only reason for my success is the fact that Ikea Hacking is value proposition - it is cheaper to create interiors using boxes sourced from IKEA. When you compare 'how much' you can get from IKEA vs. anywhere else for the same amount of money it just makes sense - and this goes beyond just 'things purchased' but rather organization and functionality; 'an optimized environment'. 

This human pre-disposition for savings is a strong one, a natural one, an 'organic one', and the proof is the roster of my past clients, repeat clients, new clients and the sheer amount of requests for quotes and requests for advice I receive. I want to highlight that socio-economic status has no bearing on demand for my services - everyone wants me to come visit their space and give them my opinion. 

So, where do we start? 

**Everyone needs boxes in their lives.**

 We may have different personal aesthetics and budgets but the need is universal. 'Boxes' are used mainly to 'store stuff' and help us to organize our lives better. Vanity is a box; a closet is a box; kitchen is a series of boxes and a kitchen island is a free-standing box - you see? They are everywhere and so I ask - why not tilt the economies of scale in your favour and buy the boxes from IKEA? 

**Make IKEA your renovation partner. **

Yea, why not?! There is more! As a woodworker with more than 20 years of woodworking experience across industries such as residential design, hospitality, education and food service I can tell you that everybody builds their boxes the same way - this is not rocket science; we are not re-inventing the wheel here. 

This need for functional boxes was further amplified by a 'Historic Design Event' on a massive scale. What happened? The exodus of office workers from their traditional productive environments and into their private residences happened. Thousands of people were forced out of the confines of their well designed, well thought out, optimized and ergonomic spaces and thrust into the middle of their living rooms, bedrooms, dens and kitchens.  'Temporary 2 weeks' turned into months and now a year and it looks like it will continue for foreseeable future.

I'm on REDDIT - a frequent visitor to r/IKEA and r/IKEAHacks - and let me tell you that what I have witnessed is nothing short of pandemonium. Shortages of absolutely every conceivable box! People asking questions on IKEA hacking left and right - how do I do this? How do I do that? And you know what else? Nobody was like 'Hey, can anyone recommend an overpriced design service'? Instead, most were Do-It-Yourselfing along and saving money - pricing on renovation is insane right now. Work from home means you shave hours off your commute time, you are more flexible with your work hours, you are efficient 'differently' from the 'tradition'.  YES, this was a 'Historic Design Event'. 

**Understanding Quality**

We gonna get philosophical. Going forward I will never describe my work as 'Luxury', instead I will call it 'Appropriate'. When your space that you occupy works for you and not against you - that's appropriate. 

First and foremost it's functionality. Superb functionality means that your living is smooth, effortless and everything has its place - from items to actions. The stuff you own is stored properly [extend its life] and its accessibility is a function of how often you are required to put it to use [winter clothes get their own sturdy, dust proof, rigid fabric 'box' that stores on the top shelf of PAX box - a must for everyone - $12]. 

When I say 'actions', I mean your daily, 'mandatory tasks' are efficient and take minimum time and you might even enjoy yourself - your morning ablution, working from home, cooking meal,, etc. With the extra time you can focus on yourself - how are you going to spend it? 

Make it pretty -  for yourself, for your partner, your child, your pet. With the previous point of  'functionality' we are leveraging IKEA, the 'make it pretty' varies. It depends on who you are and what your tastes are. It depends on how much money you have available at your disposal - you can only save so much when you have a dream or a passion. 

To Be Continued....

*the Gilded Age the Pandemic

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

HAVSTORP - a new and exciting door form IKEA! - REVIEW


Picture shows a freshly launched door for the SEKTION box called HAVSTORP. 

Chapter 1 - HAVSTORP Door Review

~When I opened the HAVSTORP box..... I just saw a grey Veddinge doors.~

'Just'.... Listen up! Never underestimate the power of simple slab door in a neutral grey colour AND an at an AMAZING price point! Yea, I think I only paid $18 bucks from Click-n-Collect at IKEA Etobicoke!

White VEDDINGE doors are the cornerstone of IKEA's 'modern design' - Anything and everything goes with these simple and unassuming doors. Simplest way to accent is to use knobs or pulls - 'Who cares who made the doors or how much they cost, if each knob on that door costs 150 bucks, is handmade and imported from Great Britain?', asked a millionaire. This comparison struck me as odd, but it's very rational way to think about design - we see the 'High-Low' looks all the time, at least I do. I am actually a big fan of the 'High-Low' and use that principle in all my work. 

Along comes HAVSTORP......!

Tomorrow when I get to the shop will do some 'hard testing' and measure the vitals - will make a YouTube video for sure!

'Like, comment, subscribe!' hahaha!