Sunday, May 21, 2017

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

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. 



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 -

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!


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 an 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 -

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!


* 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.