Monday, October 2, 2017

ToDo 2018 - U [can] 2 - Design Festival



Chapter 1 - ToDo 2018 - January 2018


TITLE of the show - U [can] 2.

I feel so much pressure now - the event is going to span 2 days. Whereas last year, it was kind of an opening for me - I did just one day; I had a piece on display; I did a 2 hour talk - this year, I am carefully contemplating how to structure the event.

There are several issues that I want to raise with the public - draw attention to, illustrate, inform. It’s gonna be an IKEA Hacking Convention 'part deux' - U [can] 2. Firstly, it will all be about IKEA Hacking and furniture design - the practical, philosphical and whimsical. I will be focusing heavily on DESIGN aspect of IKEA hacking - what can you, as a designer, as a maker, as a Do-It-Yourself person, can achieve by sourcing your 'base elements' at IKEA.

IKEA is an unique entity that more and more is intertwining itself into the fabric of urban environment, and by doing so, has the ability to exert great influence over lives - steer them, whether we are conscious of it or not. For starters, it is a leading global suppliers of furnishings for the masses - affordability is at the core of IKEA - that is by design, fully intentional. But being affordable does not mean that it is ‘cheap’ - their SEKTION kitchen system is amazing it what it achieves, for example; and their Billy Bookcases can be turned into a million other looks - check out my work! COME to the show!

By being such a retail giant it influences manufacturing, sourcing, automation - IKEA influences technology and models of production. Who wouldn’t want to supply to IKEA?

It is influencing Design - this one I am really thinking about. I mean, c’mon! TOM DIXON is doing it! I AM GONNA TAKE ON TOM DIXON! 

Nah.... just kidding!*

Yea, there is just sooo much! IKEA is taking baby steps in terms of ‘the Future’ but I am certain that its designers are predicting the wants and needs of millions of individuals as I am typing this right now! Just think - they introduced a lighting system that you can operate with an app on your phone - the Internet of Things. Imagine how simple that ability is - flick a virtual switch - ON or OFF. But IKEA also makes fridges and other appliances… You’ve seen those ‘smart fridges’ with built in technology, large touch screens and internet connectivity, right? I don’t doubt that IKEA is already working on that technology. Not only that, it is further contemplating the implications of that, ‘how do we expand on that?’, ‘how can we influcence the users?’. I know I would be asking those questions!

I really do think that there is a certain bifurcation in design happening - images that I study on Instagram is one example that I can cite - I want to say it is the 1% and the 99%. I know that it is often a polarizing, inflammatory statement to make, but IKEA really is kind of flattening this ‘contrast’. IKEA products feature an incredible wealth of technology, innovation, creativity - those are the commodities of the future. My work, my labour, my products, things I make - their value lies in the ‘craft+design’ - my ‘old-school’ woodworking skills combined with the creative component of problem solving in a beautiful way [or so I would like to think; you be the judge]. So we kind of overlap with IKEA at the ‘starting line of design’, and then, after the gun goes off, when we start racing head to head, we discover that we are not really racing, that we more likely skip along…. holding hands.


I am a product of IKEA. IKEA created me.

Crazy.

Billy Bookcase hack - still needs to be painted; Tiles need to be done; TV needs to be hung. Work...work...work...




[picture shows a built-in Billy bookcases - an IKEA hack - done by Studio Kosnik]

*but I will try! hee hee hee.....

Monday, September 25, 2017

How to hack the ALGOT system - OPTIMIZE!


[picture shows ALGOT shelving system installed by Studio Kosnik inside a sliding-door closet]


Chapter 1 - Algot Love

It is the most annoying when an article that you want is not on sale at IKEA. Usually you can expect that a product line that you want to purchase - and thus massively improve the functionality of your space, could be PAX or Sektion or even Besta - will go on sale at least once a year. I would say do all your planning first and then purchase when the sale hits. If you need an installer, research one - when the time hits it will be a seamless transition - from the box to the wall. There! Fixed to the wall - means it is safe - done PROPERLY. 

SO with EXCITEMENT I learned that the IKEA threw a wardrobe sale. Nah, I wasn't looking at PAX - although NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY THEM. I was looking for ALGOT**. Algot is this great system that I think is only now getting the recognition that it deserves. 

What is ALGOT? - ALGOT is a wall mounted, modular, very flexible storage system. I imagine the beginnings of ALGOT in a scenario like this: IKEA designers said 'let's design the best wall mounted system that will be very cheap to produce, fairly easy to install, and will offer a great number of storage options.' And they did just that. ALGOT is sooo awesome - it is simple, and intuitive and works well across other IKEA platforms - like boxes and baskets. 

Because it is so utilitarian - it ain't a looker - it is best if it is hidden from view - like a small, maybe cramped, walk-in closet; floor-2-ceiling slidings doors closets are good candidates for it too. Walk-in pantries are a good match with ALGOT. 

A small, cramped walk-in closet transforms dramatically with some new lights and two walls of algot - this one is for 'HER'. 




[picture shows an inside of a small walk-in closet that features ALGOT shelving unit - for 'HER']

First of all notice the integrated hanging rods below the shelves. That allows you to hang your jackets, shirts, etc. - anythings that requires a hanger. Below that are the pull out baskets - think socks, and small stuff that needs organizing and you got bazzillion of. Next to it, on the bottom is a shoe rack. Got more shoes? You can always box them and store them above, right? AND that tall space? Well, that's for your 'long things' - like jackets or dresses.  

Other side is just shelves and pull out large baskets. Of course, keep in mind that those dynamic components are NOT as sturdy as a built PAX drawer, or a custom built drawer /w BLUM slides. Ahh no....   but you know what? I don't really care that much - I can put up with a bit of flimsiness when it comes at such an awesome price - check out the pricing on the combinations, it really is incredible. 



My fave portion of this closet? You know what? Surprisingly..... It's that single vertical rod with all those baskets! I think that combo is like within $60 Canadian, and you got tons of storage off a single stud! Belts, scarves, little things - pair that up with a mirror and it's an 'accessories blast' - just sooo much storage for little things. 

Alright, so OK - ALGOT is awesome. So where is this ALGOT hack? What is this awesome hack that you speak of Karol? 

OK- here is the greatest ALGOT Hack of all times - hahahaha! -  so I was doing a pantry one day - small, windowless room, right next to the kitchen - about 36" wide by about 7 feet in length. I don't know where you shop 4 food, but one of MY favourite stores to shop for food is COSTCO. And as you can imagine, COSTCO sells COSTCO size packages of food. 

- 32 cans of club soda? [i think, check!]
- giant bags of dog-food - I got a dog; small, but it still eats;
- rice bags - 50lbs;
- boxes of cans, etc. 

So think, that part of the solution will have to involve moving, big and heavy bags and boxes on and off ALL THE TIME. That is what I call a dynamic load - and you know what? - drywall ain't the best for holding fasteners that are used to attach the vertical rails of the ALGOT system. Eventually they will fail, and when that happens, I know - no, I am certain - that I will get a call back. Call back along the lines - 'Yea, hi Karol, the shelves you mounted are NOT sturdy....'. And you know what? - I don't want that. SO while it easy to plan to catch SOME of the verticals on the studs [every 16" or 24"] but you can't catch them all.... or can you. 

HERE IS THE SOLUTION:



[picture shows a diagram of ALGOT shelving unit with backing strips installed] 

Grab a sheet of 3/4" Douglas fir ply, good-1-side - that means that the sheet has one nice face - that's gonna be the visible face. Rip it down [cut it lengthwise] into 3" strips. Install those strips horizontally on the wall - the top strip should mark the top of the vertical rod, and the bottom strip should mark the bottom of the vertical rods. Space the other two strips equally between the top and the bottom. Use adhesives on the back of those strips [I ALWAYS us adehsives - PL500 is my favourite] and screw them to the studs [or drill them into concrete if you have to]. Wait one day for the adhesive to set - those strips will be ROCK solid!

NOW proceed to install the ALGOT vertical rods! With the nice looking [that's why 'good-1-side'!] plywood as your back-up for screws you do not have to worry about the holding power of the screws in drywall OR the spacing!  Use #8 woodworking screws and it is solid. 

Just as a side note - when I was done with that pantry, I did some calculations - totally maxed out those IKEA Algot shelves - 3600 lbs!. 3600lbs of food could safley be stored on those shelves! Too bad I don't have pic of that project - lost my data to a computer crash - BECAUSE my computer was not connected to the cloud at that time.... 



** it is with greatest disappointment I learned that ALGOT is not part of 'wardrobes, but HOME ORGANIZATION?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

IKEA 2018 Catalogue* - Review - *this is crazy!

first impression

*I star it because I have the Canadian edition. But the personal stories in the catalogue are international - you really do feel like a citizen of the world reading it. SO accessible - I think every household in Toronto gets one in the mail, and I am certain that if you did not get one than you can call up IKEA and request one. In this digital age, print format still rules - I was surprised how many people 'phoned-in their RSVP' for my show/talk last year, even though instructions were clear to reply by e-mail - technology can be a barrier to some. 

Back to the catalogue, though! It's wonderfully square, reading it feels like browsing on a wide screen - a nice comforting feeling, a lot of us are used to that 'widescreen format'. Paper good as usual, glossy, good quality print. 

I will not talk about the tastefully arranged interiors featuring exclusively IKEA products - encompassing all aspects of living. The offering - products and ideas - is so wide, that it boggles the mind how one company can manage to do it so well. Their size makes them incredibly influential - with great power comes great responsibility - and IKEA shows how to do it well. 

*edit: but I will say that a lot of the floors in that catalogue are crazy expensive - I don't know if you can get more expensive than large format herringbone, for example - having done a lot of floors in my life. 

If IKEA is paying any attention to what is happening in the world of design it will not be able to avoid the fact that it's products are hacked. I defined it as a conscious creative act of taking an IKEA product and altering it in a way - can be creative or utilitarian intent. You cannot imagine my glee when I read that there are 2 [TWO!!!] chapters dedicated to IKEA hacking! One - on an individual level - how can one become a hacker themselves! Yeezus! Straight from IKEA's mouth - that's a legal statement I would argue! For sure that chapter was very well reviewed by IKEA legal. 

Another chapter - IKEA + Tom Dixon. Shut up! Tom Dixon?!! Tom Dixon is probably the most well known and respected name in Design - a giant monolith with no natural predators - Wikipedia lists him as a self taught designer - I carefully studied his furniture designs - I am furniture designer myself [I list that as my obsession] - so I would like to say that even though I am nowhere near the greatness of Tom Dixon, I can say that we share similar experience of designing furniture - if not passion for furniture. AND they use the word 'hacking' - this is a first too! Official! Printed copy 4 every1 2 see! That's a legal statement - right there! I guess all the big lawyers at IKEA had a meeting - I wonder if their team is international? like they have someone from the US / N. America?, surely there exists a European Union division - so they had a meeting, and they figured it out that this 'IKEA hacking' isn't going away, it's here to stay and likely get larger, so might as well take a stance on it. And what do they do? What is IKEA's opening salvo in the IKEA Hacking world? - TOM DIXON. That's HUGE! 

So, imagine that in the world IKEA Hackers - usually, average ordinary people - Community* - mind you on the crafty and creative side, but never really big, famous names - maybe with the exception of that Balenciaga, $2145 knock-off of IKEA Frakta bag ! [get out of here with your knock off Balenciaga! and c'mon! $2145 for a bag like that?!! that's undemocratic!! - I yell from the stage]. And suddenly you get the biggest name in design thrown in! Is that even compatible? What will be the result? There is a process - I have to read more in-depth to cast my verdict though. Curiosity though! - the final 'hacked' product will be available both at IKEA and Tom Dixon - I am wondering about the price point, go check out Tom Dixon on-line

*First edit: This collaboration, with the participation of Tom Dixon's students from the design classes that he teaches at renowned and prestigious design schools - they floated some interesting ideas - but it appears that anyone will be able to collaborate on the design with IKEA. I think this is the world's first such 'relationship' - the scale - 1 to 1 - an individual with a giant. I mean, relationships like these existed before - design butique firms that specialize in small batch productions, productions that larger companies just would not bother with, there is no money in it. And here we are facing the case of 'the smallest batch production of 1'. It is as if we are back at the arts and crafts era, when jobs were artisanal - people were making in a fashion that a broom-maker could exchange work with a shoe-maker or a baker - very intimate personal relationships. Maybe I am thinking too much about it. 


Anyways, it's late already and I got to wake-up at a decent hour tomorrow. Rest assured I will add to this later.

Ciao!
*I defined IKEA Hacking by its three core pillars - Accessibility, Affordability, Community, 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

IKEA Doors - 'Think-Do' Review

Casual Design - bookcase? tree? This is a more complicated design - better looking in my opinion - allows for greater creativity - still DIY friendly. 




Chapter 1 - IKEA Doors - Ethical and Philosophical Review. 

You know how margarine was invented? It was the war and Napoleon needed to feed the masses. Cows typically not doing well during wars, so there was a shortage of milk and thus shortage of butter. Butter is essential to cooking - yeezus! I love cooking with butter - it carries the flavour of everything so well. Pastries are not the same without it. Essentially there is no good life without butter, and Napoleon knew it. So he put out a call to French scientists - 'come up with a cheaper, mass producible, more accessible alternative to butter, so that everyone can a good life!'. And the French invented margarine. 

IKEA Sektion doors are like margarine - accessible and affordable to everyone. Anyone can have a good looking kitchen. With proper detailing you can replicate many cool looks - but you already know it - you've seen it done, I do it. 

Why am I writing about doors? Well, someone wrote in asking about making a set of doors. I am like, 'sure'. This person shares with me her reasoning for asking me - one - she read my review of the Veddinge doors and - two - she wasn't too keen on the Kungsbacka finish - the finish apparently shows every greasy print [that's black doors for you! - I haven't reviewed the Kungsbacka doors - maybe it's time?].

And then I checked my stats and realized that particular review of the Veddinge doors is a major draw and gets some discussion on forums - 'it influences decisions'. I am not a fan of Veddinge because of very specific reasons. 

But you know what? I don't want to be 'that negative guy'. No! I am going on the record and say that Veddinge is a very awesome door - READ the REVIEW.  I think that if you are OK with the colour of it and can put up with the issue that I outlined [AND enjoy the benefits of Veddinge that I outlined as well!], that you should totally go for it. It is so affordable and easy to replace - and really, how often do you damage your kitchen doors? And when it does happen -  You are not sweating it - because it is easy to find identical replacement - just go to IKEA! Occasionally I purchase an extra sheet of laminate for doors and give it to the client,  just so I have easy sourcing in case I ever need to replace something for them. 

And don't be jealous of other custom rich looking kitchens - Insta is filled with them - 'tag your bestie' kind of thing - yea....mmm..hmmm. This incredible opulence, rich finishes - typically at that price point there is a designer, so it is well executed - but I sometimes ask, 'is it necessary?' Imagine how they must 'dance around the cabinetry' - or their servants - not to damage it. Because I will tell you that it is next to impossible to do a replacement job well. And knowing the low risk of ownership of IKEA's Sektion you can now be more cavalier with cooking - even with butter!, which by the way is very greasy and will leave greasy splotches behind. 

Yep, butter leaves greasy marks behind. 

But that is what kitchens are - dynamic greasy environments. To take away from that would be like taking away butter from cooking - what's gonna carry the flavour? 

Do you like cooking? 
I like cooking. And I personally don't want to be worrying about doors and drawers while I am doing it. It's reasonable - makes most sense - brings out the most pleasure out of cooking - brings the most pleasure out of life!

I believe that it is very important to find things that work for you - serve you best. I have written about this before - IKEA hacking is the way to go with affordable cabinetry. If you are are a DIY person - meaning you will plan, design and create your own kitchen, then don't let me sway you away from purchasing Veddinge doors! 

When someone hires me to do their kitchen - my first instinct is always to suggest IKEA doors - not my own! I want your dollar to carry you successfully as far as it can. I want that dollar that you've worked hard for to give you maximum results. 

Alright, so we can't quite achieve our goals with IKEA doors? What are the alternatives? What is the next step? I still want to use the IKEA box and hardware - let's make use of what is readily available to us first. 

Veddinge is also a great modern clean look - nice designs can be achieved. Why wouldn't you want to get that look? My only difference is the availability of colour - so if you want something other than white, like a grey or whatever - you can have it. It's a square nice profile, I design killer fillers for it - looks like a million buck$ - panels I usually build out to 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" and come with some features that make them last a long time - definitely longer than standard panels. 

Ok, so if I was to make en ethical pitch for why I would consider my doors - that would be variety combined with durability. For lowers, I only do laminates - they last and they are beautiful. Most reasonable choice for lowers - they hold up best - they will look the same year after year. Bulletproof. I can stand behind a product like that. 


Watch the story on Kungsbacka - this is a perfect marriage. Any kitchen doors will show grease - the question is how effortless is the clean-up. If it is easy to clean, then it don't matter that things will get dirty - CLEAN up is EASY. 

IDEAL DOORS DON'T EXIST. 

To be continued....





Sunday, July 16, 2017

Looking forward to TODO 2018 - there is a book!

This one is going to be a short one, but I had to get it out!

Yeezus! Someone had to do it. So there is another Ikea Hackers book. I got an e-mail, straight from Jules telling me about this opportunity! Her - yes, she is also a hacker - and 25 other hackers [I think] put together their favourites. This means two things - IKEA gave it a blessing, they are not going to fight her publications - when I get to read it I will analyze it - I mean, this is a legal statement by IKEA - this is what is allowed. And I can now publish my own large format book. I even know what I am going to write about it. Hey! Better yet, I will get to test some of those ideas next year during the Design Week in January. I am going to let my flair for furniture design shine.

I think I got the name for it too. Because it will have some art component, and I also wan to be faux-Swedish, and I want to be be hip.... I am gonna call it - U [can] 2.  For the [can], there will be that iconic picture of the Warhol's Campbells soup can. Yep, if I am gonna be an artist, I wanna do it full blown.

No. Not really. I find choosing names - meaningful, appropriate titles - for shows is kind of hard. You wanna be edgy and stand out, but real at the same time. Yeezus... It is hard. You don't want to be cheesy, but you do want to have fun. Of course you want for it 2 B memorable, right? So many things to consider...

Chapter 2 - What IKEA taught me about global politics - the future of labour.

In some ways a company like IKEA, which has an incredible sway - being the world's leading home furnishings and accessories retailer - it makes tons of important decisions and influences business decisions around the globe - is a good indicator of the future of labour and manufacturing. If there is one thing that IKEA always considers is the geopolitics of doing business. The Malm dresser - a very cute thing - I am working on right was made in Germany - a hotbed of democracy, strong capitalist ethic and led by a powerful and influential women [for whom I have great respect - you got to google Merkel's giant eye-roll she gave to Putin, at the most recent summit]. On the other hand, Turkey or Russia will not likely see any business from IKEA.

And of course - automation. That's gonna be a game changer in the next 10 years.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Designer - Karol Kosnik - but a Maker and Hacker too.



[picture shows an outline of a built it taped out on a wall - part of  Karol Kosnik's  design process]


Chapter 1 - Thoughts on furniture design. 

YES! YES! YES! My Maker Faire listing is up! - here is the link!

This is it  - you either make it or you don't - is there a demand for your vision of the world or not?

I do think that every product designer that graduates from a design school - and by 'product' I mean specifically things that people will interact with directly or in-directly - hopes that they have a unique vision - they have 'the' vision for something that will change the world.  And nothing could be further from the truth than furniture designers. 

We all need furniture. We also know well what a good chair feels like, what comfortable sofa is like, what a handsome credenza functions like - in some ways it's the universality of the human experience - our quest to surround ourselves with objects we find beautiful. 

Right now, this weekend it's the ICFF - International Contemporary Furniture Fair - or at least that's what I think the acronym stands for. People I know, contemporaries, friends are there right now, in New York City, presenting their products and ideas to an audience of industry people - architects, designers, people interested in good design. 

I am religiously following the hashtags on Insta - successful furniture in some way is purely visuals - if you are not captured by it visually you are unlikely to explore it further - I've never been attracted to ugly furniture, and had no desire to really test them, UNLESS, they were in a category that 'it's-SO-Bad-that-its-GOOD [things like that do exist, I believe]. Yeezus, some of the designs are good, and I really like some of them, and some I saw thought were just mediocre [so execution is flawless - some people get trapped in that often, focusing on the skill rather than the design; once you are a master of some skill  it is important to still grow and challenge yourself - one way to do it is to design withing your expert field]. 

I just had this crazy idea - that if you can ask about your creation - is it reasonable? and if the answer is 'yes' than it is not art. I think art needs to have an unpredictable component.

But back to ICFF. No way I am ICFF ready. I don't think I have enough of a strength in my ideas just yet, to show, and be very successful. I don't want to sound cocky or anything - but I do want to sound confident. It's been like 10 years since my first show - the first Radiant Dark - we showed Jackie Treehorn, that table that was stolen from me - check my Instagram for that story and the visuals, if tickles your fancy. I remember sneaking some liquor to the opening party that time - and what audacity - we re-used original plastic LCBO bags, they were great and people re-used them for other things too. Why? What artist/designer would sneak some liquor to their own opening? I don't know - I can't remember - I was young and stupid - I can't answer that question, but I am assuming that there was a perfectly logical and reasonable explanation for that. It was a blast! It was a good party! - that's what I remember!

It was a bit overwhelming this Design Week - I did not anticipate such an amazing response, but it only makes me thirstier for another great show. Yea, I had some good and great ideas, but nothing of enough of a calibre to make a serious dent on scene such as New York - that's real big leagues. And I dare not even phantom Milan - yeezus! that is like at least 5-8 years away. But people are doing, so why not?

Chapter 2 - In the mean-time.

When I don't design and build furniture I attend to projects like these. 



[picture shows PAX boxes being installed within a wall cavity]

I am gonna spare you the write up on why I like the PAX - I've written on it extensively [hit the PAX label on my blog]. But the critical key to a successful PAX is the install portion. Plus if you want to make it look like a million bucks than you definitely need to hire me. If your house has gracefully aged - like this one for example - to straighten it out would require tremendous effort, in the process completely wrecking a lot of the finishes  - like old marble floors, built-in cabinetry - which also nicely settled. 

This one is a rescue, the installation already happened - but it was so grotesque [that's the only word that came to my mind; like a bad clown] - that it just needed to be rescued. This portion of the project is just an exercise in keeping things plumb, level and square. The next step will make this project 'pretty' - I am considering how to 'make it look like a million buck$' - ain't nothing wrong with that. Plus there will be some nice custom bookcases to the left. 

*edit: people are upset that I wrote that it is a 'rescue install' - let me state that there are wonderful trades out there who do an awesome job - but cabinetry [which includes IKEA cabinetry] is a special trade. You have realize that in order to install cabinetry properly - for it to not only look good but function properly - YOU DO NEED TO INSTALL it PLUMB, SQUARE and LEVEL. If you won't do that it will not work properly. Sometimes it means having to hack the cabinetry, OR doing some small OR major tricks to get it to sit properly. I've been making IKEA cabinetry look good for ages now - I know what I am doing, I know what is required. IKEA cabinets were not meant to be installed by everyone, yea, sad truth. 

Once I am finished I will upload some pics.

I think it's gonna look really good. 

Ciao!

** BIG EDIT:

Client sent in some finished pics. Here they are. She is still hoping that I will be able to hide that horrible slope in the floor [as referenced to the cabinetry]. And I do have some ideas on how to do it!

Remember, regardless of whether you want just install, build it in, or 'make it look like a million buck$' - PAX  closets are THE BEST DEAL AROUND! And the flexibility of hardware, fittings, shelves, organizers, boxes, baskets, 'hanging-things' means that once the box is installed it can be customized by the end user - no need for expensive call-backs!


[picture shows built-in, add-on bookcases - design meant to blend in with the existing fireplace]
[picture shows a built-in PAX wardrobe with IKEA doors painted to match the trim]

[picture shows PAX wardrobes installed on an un-even, sloping floor]

** there were no arbitrary decisions here. When the door closes on that closet it comes within a 1/4" of the end panel. Yea...there was a lot of planning on how to make it look good. And I think I am successful. Screw off HomeStars!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

THINK BIG - free workshops + LUX Hacks

Chapter 1 - Think big. 

Always. One should have at least 5 year 'creative horizon' - or at least 'professional horizon'. We live in a society - economy - that is growing at an exponential rate [a result of automation + AI] - information and skills are readily available and accessible. Ranging from full-time university education, semester long college skills courses, all the way to weekend seminars that will issue a certificate that you can tax-deduct and put down on your resume.  It is easy to grow professionally. 

And we should. 

So what am I doing about it? 

I am gonna be offering a free once-a-month workshop.  I do have a maker space in mind. I am thinking about a project - something that is small but could be conceptualized and critiqued in a group [sorry that's the process - sometimes you will hear that your ideas are not great; it's a chance to improve or be foolhardy]. I also want to teach about non-orthodox thinking - design hacking - recognize areas of possible positive change through non-conventional means. 

A significant portion of my endavours are not really money-makers - like parenting or volunteering. Strictly speaking - monetarily speaking -  I would be compensated in a significantly larger amount if I chose to focus my efforts just on myself - but I feel that it would be unethical. I always ask myself - what am I working towards? What is my contribution to society? I want for everyone - not just myself to be successful. 


This July I will be attending the Maker Fair in Toronto and I will be asking questions - handing out questioners - gathering information - 



What do you want to hack?
What skills do you want to learn?
Are you a designer that wants to learn how to Design/Hack?

Once I will analyze the data, I will design an IKEA Hacking course tailored exactly to the needs and wants of the Maker Community. I hope to offer the course for free, or for some nominal costs [there will costs, say, just even with the venue]. Money-making scheme comes in with access to the maker space, material costs/pre-fab - but the core 'idea portion' I want to give away - it will let people be creative on their own - just give them tools - it will be up to them on how ambitious they want to get; they will be able to pace themselves; they can make on their own time. 


See you in July!


Chapter 2 - KingK+QueenT Lux Hacks Collection


I will be launching a collection of luxurious IKEA Hacks that I will slowly introduce on my Instagram page - check it out - www.instagram.com/karol.kosnik/


One way of doing hacks is with a surface treatment - you can be traditional about it - say just paint it - but I think it is nicer if you can give that surface treatment a 'spin'. I have written why I am partial to laminates as a surface treatment before - why love them? and especially the ones from ABET Laminati - fancy Italian laminates - go see their showroom - you will be inspired, I guarantee it. I have been going to Abet for ages - and have been hauling away their rarer, discontinued, not available, vintage stuff for years now - it's pricey too, I got some really exclusive stuff - holy cow! I am excited just writing about this stuff; which way am I gonna lay it out? which one am I gonna use where.....OMG!

Keep watching my Insta + there is gonna be my show in January of 2018. Arranging  for gallery stuff already! There is gonna be an opening and booze! hahaha! That's the one night to shine, right?!







Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How to build a base for an IKEA kitchen ISLAND - will make a VIDEO too.

Chapter 1 - PLANNING is your BEST tool.

You already know the advantage of doing an IKEA's Sektion for the kitchen re-model - addition of a kitchen island. 

Island additions are an amazing opportunity to increase functionality and flow of your kitchen work - smoother and better. It also offers a great opportunity to make a nice design statement - IKEA offers wide range doors and you can get pretty creative with the island geometry with the availability of the large panels in matching finishes - you can now make large surfaces look professional!

AND! AND! 

I saw London Grey from Cesarstone in the showroom at IKEA Etobicoke! Yea....I got to say - Frosty Carrina and London Grey are my two favourite stones. These are 'premium stones' and if IKEA has them means that they can get you probably the best deal around - and you get an amazing discount [max 20%, with 3 appliances - kitchen event ON NOW].

Chapter 2 - HOW do I build my IKEA SEKTION ISLANDS

*EDIT: Here is the VIDEO LINK!

The advantages of my system are as follows:

A] Flexibility! of where you want to install - over any materials. ALWAYS check the floor if you are going to be drilling into it - cables? wiring? piping? YEA! IMPORTANT!

B] Simplicity! Once built, setting your cabinets is a breeze! And knowing that your levels are already established, you are able to focus your efforts elsewhere - like making things nice. Once the base is installed, the 'leveling portion' is done. Use a laser level on runs more than 4 feet. 

C] Creativity! - with my system you can focus your creative energy on interesting kitchen island geometry - open up any fancy Italian design magazine and using the structure you can copy those!

Win! Win! WIN! - that's all I say!

Chapter 3 - the Drawings

A] I am attaching 3 drawings - they are progressive - I hope that they are clear enough - BUT I will supplement with videos - today or tomorrow. 
Let's start with this - 2 boxes side by side. This is a fairly common combination - PLUS I am partial to the 15/15 split - I just think it looks the cleanest PLUS you save on hardware [hardware can get expensive - as much as a SEKTION box! - $50!]



[please note - I omitted the front piece for clarity]

B] The secret of this system is that - IT IS ALL MADE FROM THE SAME DIMENSION plywood piece. Use 3/4" construction grade ply - try picking a nice flat sheet, but don't sweat it if there is some kinks in it. The way the base is built - ORIENTATION of the pieces IS THE KEY - it is SELF SQUARING! 




C] Here is the detail section - so the top portion is actually 'floating' over 'fixed points' - there is a reason why it is done this way. First reason is that this is super easy to execute - build the base and level the four courners - THEN you further secure it to the subfloor. 






Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Making BODBYN look NICE - it's all in the details.

Chapter 1 - first a bit of a rant, but it follows with great advice!


[picture shows Karol Kosnik gauging the appropriate height of a charging station]



Chapter 1 - bit of a rant, but great info to follow!


My new found fame - yea I got covered by tons of media - traditional radio, TV, online, blah..blah...blah - has generated quite the attention on my little business. Yes, because it is small business - I run a studio practice.

What does it mean to run a 'studio practice'?

It means that there is great variance in the type of projects that come in - size, scope, curiosity. It means that I have great flexibility in the type of projects that I can pursue. I don't think that there is anything wrong with saying that I have preference for specific projects - things that I like doing - things that I will excel at!

A] I love modernism* as a design movement - all my designs are what I would consider 'modern'. If you are looking for a highly ornate, 'carved angels on bedposts' kind of look, that I am not your guy. I think someone who has passion for that type of woodwork will likely do much better job at it than I would. My philosophy is 'do what you love'. Plus, I don't have those skills.

B] I like creating 'striking interiors'. It is easy to create dramatic, impressive interiors with big budgets. It is significantly more challenging to do so when your budget is small - it requires being creative with materials and clever sourcing [like IKEA!! no-brainer there! everyone builds their boxes the same way!]

C] I have to be the right 'fit for you' - yea, not everyone is totally comfortable with my style. Don't get me wrong - I love what I do, I go above and beyond for all my clients [shhh...wanna know a secret? I design and build for myself....I want to create something that I would personally like to have, something that I would enjoy]. No worries, if I feel that I am not the right person for the project, I will let you know about it. MORE, I will point you in the right direction - 'look at this company', 'consider the services of this individual'. Why would I want to set myself up for an expensive failure, unhappy client, crappy workmanship? Why? It's so counterintuitive.

If I will take on your project you can rest assured that it is a well thought out decision. You will only be presented with best possible options. The resulting product will be of finest craftsmanship. AND those are the only acceptable options. There, I said it. So don't hate on me because I don't post on Instagram every single day, OK?

The other secret - well it's not a secret, I think it is just a good practice - is that I have been doing this for about 20 years now! [That's right! OLD MAN HERE! hahaha! Every time I get ID'ed at the Liquor Store - where I live, it is a government agency that runs the stores that sell booze - yea! I like my beer cold! - I chuckle a bit.

Every time that I encounter a tradesperson that impresses me with their work - quality of workmanship; attention to details; personal aesthetics; good practices; creativity!; there is many criteria! - I take down their personal info, and tell them - 'hey! I want to work with you in the future!'.

I may not have a project that requires a gas fitter right away, and trim-carpenters are a dime-a-dozen, or the plumber is a really young ambitious apprentice - I can see potential that I would like to have in my projects down the line. So I keep this little 'black book' that is filled with names of great craftspeople, that I know I can always turn to for help on my projects.

And I am never disappointed!**


Chapter 2 - Making BODBYN look NICE - I hope this is what the great Google engine brought you here for.


If you show up at IKEA Etobicoke for breakfast before 10AM, you get a FREE coffee!

Score!! I win with that free coffee. Here is a great solution for IKEA kitchens - AND it looks like a million bucks. If you price this out - the cost is marginally higher - given that you can do this yourself - but the solution, I think, is superior. 
Measure this stuff yourself, go to a fabricator and ask - if you shop around, you will get that stainless backsplash in the price of the tiles+labour2installThem - it's not difficult to self-install -


[
picture shows a nice Studio Kosnik design - IKEA Bodbyn kitchen with a stainless steel backplash and side splash - this is a great idea for IKEA kitchens]

I have to say that I am a big fan [on top of being SUPER-practical] stainless steel backsplash options. When I design a SEKTION kitchen I always suggest this - in the long term - it is more durable, it will look better, it is easier to clean and maintain - AND - you will love cooking knowing that you don't have to worry about stuff splashing around. Having your grout lines saturated with cooking fat is just annoying, on top of being 'not hygienic'. Do you not agree? Everyone I know settles for a stainless steel vent hood - all you got do do is add the 'side wings' and the back - that's right 'grease me up'! I.DON'T.CARE!****

There is something impressive about having a giant, heavy, steel cooktop - I used to work at a professional kitchen - nothing serious, but enough to develop a taste for a little cook-up. But 2 things get in the way - money - yea, those things are expensive or very expensive; and space - yea, they are big and don't work well in small spaces.


How do you get over that obstacle? This, up there. You can fit a nice, good quality stove/oven combo in that space - say 30" or even richer! - 32". Put that together with a vent - there is many nice imports coming in, at a very reasonable prices from overseas. And, the way things are going down in the good old USA - I LOVE AMERICA - China might become a larger, more important trading partner - a virgin territory that Canadian firms will have an advantage over their American counterparts [ thanks to the Trump rhetoric]. SORRY that got out, but geo-politics will start playing into the sourcing equation.*** We might be in on some good deals - let's be smart about it Canada!

This here is such a good option - many stoves will feature an overhanging lip - which covers the gap between stove and the side of the cabinet - so it is important to set your cabinet height properly - easy peasy 2 do with my system. Look for that feature when you are purchasing a stove - it will go a long way with you not worrying about stuff spilling between - grimy nightmare.

You know, as I say it - the SEKTION box is amazing. I just love it - it's so flexible to design with.
And that's what's on the other side - with distinction. I like it. Success. 





[picture shows a open bar IKEA Hack kitchen - with Frosty Carrina countertops; Lower doors/drawers are IKEA Grey BODBYN, uppers are in White BODBYN]

So what's my other 'Great Bodbyn Tip'?

Well, I was at IKEA Etobicoke, few days back, and they are setting up for another BODBYN display. And as I am listening on the conversation - I know it is wrong to snoop around - the installer tells the IKEA designer that because the wall is 'crooked' - surprise! when isn't it? huh? - they will have the side panels sitting at different depths - if they are not going to cut them down [my addition].

So on the island, the side panel will stick out a different dimension past the doors than on the wall - that's what I call an 'inconsistent look'. So your 'detailing' on the project will vary - introduce dimensional discrepancies. If you are a perfectionist like me - things like that annoy you, on top of looking 'not sharp'. And you know what? There is one thing that sets nice design apart from amateurish ones is exactly this 'consistency' - I want everything to look the same.


*****

FOR BODBYN DOORS - I set my panels the same dimension all around - about 5/8" of an inch past the side gable - do some experiments, see what it looks like. It is a nice designer detail that allows for a smooth, designer, transition from the door/drawer to the panel. Where I think it is a good look if the panels stick out full dimension past doors like Veddinge, I think it is a 'smoother' look if the doors transition nicely to the panels along the radiuses. It's all about the details!

*****

Chapter 3 - They said 'You need Instagram' - OK.

Recently, I installed some really nice marble pulls from Superfront - that Swedish lux-wonder. If you are in DA GAME, you know know them for their really nice - high end, I would say - pulls, as they will ship to Canada. That sacrilegious! holy wafer pull! - if I was a religious conservative I would ban them out of Canada just for that! So back to installing them - when I heard the price paid for those 2 marble balls - which, I don't see a reason why you could not manufacture here in Canada - save on shipping! - I am not going to write the price here just yet. I will hold off because the price was so ridiculously high that I am certain that I misheard - so I will go back and verify that high price. You can see those nice marble pulls on my Instagram account - here is the link -

www.instagram.com/karol.kosnik/

Superfront makes a nice product. Here is a plug - on my blog, but I will also tell them that I am going to look into manufacturing a similar product here in Canada.



Done writing for the day!

Ciao!


* I also love Art Deco and Art Nouveau.


** By the way, I hate HomeStars - I think it is a bit of a scam - personal opinion - the one time I DID use HomeStars turned into a total nightmare. I was so pissed off. Did not leave a review! Suckers - I said I am NOT going to join that circus!

***IKEA already is making America great again by sourcing their BESTA boxes in the USA. Made in America, with pride. But here is the catch - it is a highly automated operation - the jobs there are low-wage manufacturing - we are not thinking the boom of the 1960's economy. I am certain that IKEA offers great benefits package - they are on the EUROPEAN MODEL - you get a very nice vacation, and like a month!; shorter workdays 2.

Monday, February 27, 2017

WHERE to go NEXT?

Chapter 1 - Sometimes you just want to chill. 

Where else can you take bored, hungry children on a Sunday - and still ensure that they get some exercise? IKEA, of course. 

It was a ZOO. There was absolutely no way that you could produce efficient, satisfactory results on the IKEA kitchen planner. If you watched my video - on how to use the planner efficiently - you would have known that. 

But sometimes being productive is not always the goal. Sometimes you just want to chill and watch your children be successful - just playing around other kids. I think IKEA makes some amazing children's toys - I think their offering creates for a very open ended, positive, inclusive game play. 
I can honestly say that we spent at least 2 hr at IKEA. I laid on a bed watching hundreds of people pour by me - exploring, touching, evaluating products - potential consumers right there. I read some stats and apparently IKEA Canada is doing really well - a leader - they are THE destination for home furnishings and decor. IKEA's success is directly tied to its ability to mass produce objects that people need [that is something that is completely opposite of what I do, total and complete customization; I am a furniture designer]. I wondered, for the hundreds of people that walked by me - how many of them cared about the amount of smart, forward thinking design and cutting edge technology that went into each product?

A pregnant couple [yea, I know, just the lady is pregnant] with a young daughter walks by me and looks at the next bed, that I am on. It's handsome dark lines, some curves add flair - the design details mimic some other fancy era design. They speak a foreign language, but I can read the body language and the positive nods - they are interested. Their little girl gets up onto the bed. 'Look,' I say, pointing out the flexibility of this design, 'this beds extends, it can be made larger. All you have to to do is buy a larger mattress.'. 'Ah...thank you,' they nod in approval. I think this makes the sale, as they write down the product number. 'Yes, a successful sale!' I think to myself. No wonder IKEA is doing so well. 

People just want functionality - not everyone wants or cares about high fashion design. 







Chapter 2 - OK, so what's next for me.

A] I want to do even more, now that the show shone a bright spotlight on my practice. I will focus more on designing and hacking. I want show what is possible - and how to take the best advantage of what IKEA has to offer - IT IS A LOT!

B] I am currently looking for a maker space to start hosting meet-ups  - IKEA Hacking. I am also looking to offer workshops - some free, and some for a fee. What are you interested in doing? Fire off an e-mail and let me know!

C] I am gonna up my social media game - I will still write - cause I am a writer first! - but I will also start producing videos. I reviewed all the traffic to my site and identified most popular requests and search queries - will be doing one shortly - may even today!

D] I will stay creative - remember you should always have a 10 year horizon - creative, professional. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
NOTE: 5 year horizon is still acceptable. lol.

Stay creative! 

Ciao!



Friday, February 24, 2017

Alright! Alright! Updating blog!


Yeezus! People hating because I don't update the blog! Here, update! 

They love me! They really, really love me. 
Yes, I do good work. 

There, now back to work. Check my Instagram - I just got it and started posting to it - mind you, there is some personal stuff there too. 


Ciao!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Toronto Design Week - ToDo Symposium - Reflection & Review - American Perspective

here he is! Mr. American, Ivan McCuistion

Chapter 1TODO 2017 Reflection: Work Culture, Well-being and Seeing the unseen



Red cup in tow, a half-flight of white steps led up into my momentary heaven at the DO Festival 2017 in Toronto.

“Remember Tomorrow?” a brand poster asked, before cascading deeper into eloquent paradoxes. Marrs Brand Future, even the name rang true! Hasn’t the planet Mars long been an icon of the future, yet riddled with uncertainties and failures?

Looking deeper into the white-walled gallery, the divergent handcrafted housewares furthered my perception of the thesis: question our implicit promise of the future. What do we assume and is it so? The Marrs Brand Future exhibit acted as a portal for inquiry into the Unknown-unknowns(1), as Jamer Hunt would present two days later at the DO Symposium Talks.

I promptly insisted two friends arrive at the Marrs exhibit for discussion. They did, and we quickly found ourselves debating the unprecedented personal security that individuals in developed countries enjoy—a gift born of the future. Yet are we suffering with self-inflicted isolation? Going deeper, we wiki’ed national suicide rates and asked ourselves, at what threshold of discomfort is suicide warranted? What is the mark of a greater civilization, lower indexes of violence or lower indexes of self harm?

As a society we need more space for this, as Erika Bailey spoke of it, we need more real-talk. I agree wholeheartedly with Jamer Hunt’s concluding keynote at the Do Symposium. In design, and more broadly in all creation we need to adapt tools and culture for more discourse in our work. Perhaps our capacities for creation have grown far larger than our collective bandwidth for discourse. But Hunt probed the audience to think of this as an integral part of the design process. It isn’t enough to be retrospectively critical, as was done in his Design and Violence collaboration(2). Designers must leave space for unforeseen consequences to arise in their process and actively address them. Yet my personal experiences with intense focus and isolation leave me wondering if there is a conflict between corrosive cultures and the state of mind necessary to see the unforeseen.

I could not have marveled at the Marrs Brand Future exhibit if I were under the pressure that some organizations still praise or demand. Fortunately work culture is evolving, and Erika Bailey of The Moment provided clues on influencing these cultures in her talk. She cautioned us of the complexity and challenge of changing culture, yet offered striking quantitative results. “Invite the unusual suspects!” Bailey proclaimed, and Jamer Hunt too reinforced the value of the unexpected perspective in design discourse.

Bailey described culture like an iceberg, with our customs and artifacts seen above water but supported by dense histories of behaviours and belief systems below. She emphasized it isn’t only the elements of culture that are key, but being aware of the language that is used around those elements.

Rejecting the notion of a work-life balance, Bailey offers a holistic approach where the whole person is welcomed into the workplace. Rather than balancing a scale, she advocates for respectful and meaningful integrations of work and life. “You must care,” Bailey implored us. At every step proposed towards changing culture, Erika Bailey challenged us to get real in our conversations, intentions and reflections on progress. Throughout the process we need to give time and persevere, 12-18 months in her workplace examples.

This is a challenge I want to continue to develop, let’s get real about our well-being, our workplace culture and our culture of creation. Bring yourself, your whole self—known and striving towards wellness—into conversation. Let’s ask each other if we are creating recklessly, let’s define that, and even dare to ponder broader impacts. Let’s ask what did the future promise and what it will promise. We need to ask not only if our civilization is great, but what have been our unintended consequences. We’ll be discussing our iceberg, but let’s develop an awareness of our language in process. In doing so we may prime ourselves for cultural changes and possibly see a bit deeper into the unforeseen—the unknown unknowns.

Respectful, honest and challenging conversations are a necessary tool in evolving culture, whether in the workplace or in creation. To recapitulate Jamer Hunt, where do designers go for philosophical criticism of our work and process? Who is helping us see the unseen, and how do we see it sooner, before a product is launched? Are we leaving space for this discovery in our working process, in our culture?

Yet this isn’t enough either, as Bailey points we’ll need to address multiple points in the culture to affect change. While this is reaching beyond my present knowledge, it seems obvious that our creative capacities have outstripped our ability to educate each other, share and conviene. Do we need more regulatory control or broader—likely competing—design tribes that share insights. Maybe these tribes function like competing academic networks, and put the person first, not the brand or marketing.
Together we need to be more open to criticism of our discipline, our process, even ourselves. Beyond continuing to raise these ideas, I believe Erika Bailey’s talk offered insight into improving our own well-being, and thus primes us to reach higher, and look deeper.






1 – Derived from a Donald Rumesfeld quote https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_known_knowns


referencing Johari Window heuristics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window


2 – http://designandviolence.moma.org


TO DO Talks Symposium – http://todesignoffsite.com/event/to-do-talks-symposium-design-and-the-pursuit-of-well-being/


Jamer Hunt – http://www.jamerhunt.com/index.html
Erika Bailey – http://themoment.is/team/erika-bailey/





Ivan McCuistion – www.mcivank.com/works
Ivan is an American new to Toronto. He studied Industrial Design at the University of Cincinnati–DAAP and is currently freelancing at The Station, while seeking contract and full-time design opportunities in the area.