Monday, January 15, 2018

U [can] 2 official INVITE VIDEO + WILLIAM bookcase reveal!


Here is my official invite video - COME see U[can] 2 - we will learn together!

Chapter 1

Come see the William Bookase reveal [WITH pricing!] - see how affordable such projects are to the average DIY - this design can be scaled up - just imagine....a wall of FANCY looking bookcases - ON A BUDGET! 

[picture shows a picture of a hacked Billy bookcase decorated with fancy mouldings - it is called the William bookcase]

Hello Everyone who is interested in coming to PRACTICAL FRIDAY!

Practical Friday has 2 COMPONENTS:

A] 1PM - NEURODIVERSITY TALK  - Personal reflections on my professional practice - I will be speaking about the neurodiversity movement and how it will revolutionize access to workplaces for those who are NEURODIVERSE!

B] 3:30 PM - SEKTION / BESTA WORKSHOP - this is the workshop portion - I will put together a PDF document that you will be able to download and print - you can take notes right on it! Most convenient!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

U [can] 2 - Theoretical Thursday - Jan 18, 2017


First Tip: be efficient - create public web content while answering e-mails that matter. So you know that you have to put in the effort - it's either going higher up OR you care about this project. Might as well make it count - imagine writing for a larger audience - likely a similar client will call soon and you managed to pre-emptively answer their question - ADVANTAGE YOU. Strip all the personal details, take out the sensitive numbers - anonymize it. It is now ambiguous enough to apply to anyone, convincing enough because it was a personal response, AND when the Google AI crawlers will go over it, they will sense 'good quality human content' and give it a higher rating - those things do add up, it's a global audience now - I get tons of views from RUSSIA and DOWN UNDER!

Best to check out my INSTA account - it's a nice visual and brief description of ideas that I will be focusing on during my 2 day event. 

Chapter 1 - U [can] 2 - Theoretical Thursday, Jan 18; 3pm;

 'So I want to attend Theoretical Thursday - Karol, you got the place booked till 10pm, what's happening so late?'

I have already received couple of e-mail questions asking for a clarification - what am I doing on Thursday? What?!- Controversial design opinions? 

Firstly you will see cool furniture - IKEA Hacks - something meant to be replicated or scaled up, fancy stuff too! But I will have my own designs 2 - something that was meant to go into Sheridan50, Part B, which never happened because of the college faculty strike. 

BUT what an excellent question!

Theoretical Thursday [entire day; I only provided the 'talk' as an 'anchor point' for scheduling purposes, I don't really know how big this is going to get; I'm keeping the place open till 10pm] is meant to be an informal, non-structured discussion on how to succeed in the field of Design - be it as a designer, a designer-maker or a tradesperson who will work with designers - mostly what I would consider 'independent contractors'', 'small scale, butique design firms', 'niche markets' - as that seems to be the shift that is taking place in the demographic - employers often talk about 'flexibility'- 10 years ago my great marketing prof called it 'blue-ocean, red ocean theory'. 

I will share tips, techniques and methods that have helped me to reach the place where I am at now - I am very selective about my projects [don't cast your net too wide -  be wise with your available resources; pick projects that you know you will be most successful with; pursue your passions]; better wages [that's the trend....]; fulfilling my dream of an academic career - perhaps unorthodox, indirect route [yea! I'd love to go out there study full time - but I can't - job, family, bills; real life vs. 'insta life'; creating work that is shared, appreciated and has helped a very large number of people to achieve success on their own scale [that's part of the 'sharing economy'!]; being an arteest [spelling intentional] - I think my work has some artistic merit, but calling oneself 'an artist' is a very bold statement to make, not there yet [you guys will know that I scored that 'meellion dollar deal' when I start calling myself an 'artist']

I hope to draw students and recent grads in - academic world is very much the iGeneration - I am the star - but once you leave that bubble, it's harsh outside. That's why I think it will be important for them to identify their strengths early on - things they like doing, things that they can excel at, things they won't mind spending long and long hours on but it will not feel like work - and be paid good money for it. We are no longer an economy where a prepared 'portfolio of work' - which is often very self-centered - serves as a ticket to landing a great career [vs. a job; nothing wrong with having 'just a job']. I will talk about 'non-orthodox' opportunities - kind of like 'hacking for a job' - recognize great openings and take advantage!

This one is a BIGGIE - learn how to identify socio-economic trends which in turn will shape direction of your own design work; impact the structure of your design work AND make decisions that will steer your creative work towards greater success. Depending on the audience requests, I will get as large or as granular as they want. I read and study in great detail all sorts of retail, sales data for 'designer objects' - everything from cars, houses, clothing, even pop-culture and politics, what I call 'the commercial, consumable culture'- those are the 'tea-leaves' that I read. I personally have what I call a '10 year creative event horizon' - so for example I already know what show I will do next year; what show I will do in 3 years; and what creative stunt I will pull in 5 years. I will encourage people to develop their own 'creative event horizons' - maybe 10 years is long, but you sure got to have a 5-year plan!

And remember, Social Media is the Great Equalizer, and you should leverage it to your best advantage.

See you on Thursday, Jan 18?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - 2017 Year in Review

First of all - Follow me on INSTA - get an inside scoop of how I hack things. Get some PRO tips on how to make it look like a million buck$!

MY FAVOURITE HACK OF 2017 GOES TO........   IKEA Etobicoke!

I caught myself completely OFF GUARD staring at this piece. I know my IKEA line-up like the back of my hand, and yet I wasn't able to pinpoint it! HA! This is SEKTION - their kitchens box! Veddinge doors + side panels with 'furniture legs' thrown on it, completed with leather straps straight out of Superfront's playbook! HA! it looked GREAT! I mean this is IKEA..... hacking.... itself.  This is what I would call 'true 2 the spirit' of IKEA hacking. And I also think 2017 marks the end of an era when IKEA with its 'stiff lip and high hat' took itself so seriously and decided to 'screw it!' - LETS SEE WHAT WE CAN DO! 

Congrats! That's one pretty big self-realization! One step closer.... 

2017 in REVIEW - the Year IKEA Hacked Itself. 

A lot of things happened in 2017. For me, I basked in my famoosness [spelling intentional] that my media exposure brought as a result of the show that I organized [there was even some international exposure + an offer of a TV gig**!] - it was first ever IKEA Hackers Symposium. I put some 'academic spin' on it - and I think it makes sense - I think it can be studied, it has 'periods' and influencers, you know -you could write a proper thesis on it, you could put  a nice 'social aspect'  spin on it.

The excitement though is even better, because Ikea Hacking is experiencing large growth in terms of real, tangible market - yea, sure it's got a 'modern arts + crafts' feel to it and is much loved by crafters and makers - but I am aware of large trend of using IKEA kitchens OR cabinetry to renovate. And renovation business is booming in Toronto. You can't turn a corner without some structure being erected - modernism is in, some of it done well, and some not so. And those renos or builds are expensive! It would be pertinent for those suffering from anxiety to seek professional help during those times - designers and architects - but also a medical professional - you will need something strong. DELAYS are inevitable [this is why IKEA HACKING makes sense - ZERO lead times - you purchase boxes right there and then!]

I am in the process of writing a piece called 'on the advantage of SEKTION for life', where I outline all the benefits of that box [of course paired up with my install system - which is super easy-peasy! - come to Practical Friday show, Jan 19, 2018 and do the hands on DEMO! skew the floor and level the base - 4 REAL!] - one of which is ZERO lead time to purchase cabintery - very flexible designs. 

I defined IKEA Hacking in terms of three things: Accessibility, Affordability, Community. I did that based on my extensive experience as a hacker - there are numerous ways to access IKEA products in-person and on-line; smart manufacturing is key to keeping prices low - over 40 tonnes of Billy bookcases get made in Sweden everyday; people very much send in other hacks as 'inspirational images', ha! I even gotten my own work as inspiration! I overthink the concept of Ikea hacking - I see it very multi dimensional, including how it reflects on society, and what it spells out about the future, and what we can learn from IKEA as society. 

But back to hacking - well, I don't know, maybe in 2017 IKEA got jealous and decided that it wants to get hacked on its own terms - IKEA's attempt to regain narrative. Gone are the days when Ikea brought legal ruin onto those who opposed it - and really, they had no grounds, like zero [0] - why would you take on your own biggest fans? But back then, that was a rigid, corporate, legal mindset - things have changed, as IKEA abandoned the hard-line approach, and instead is attempting to use soft power [hahaha! I read that Great Britain is one of those countries that exercises soft power well - opposite of say USA under Trump] to influence what 'hacking its products' means. For far too long others have had the 'ikea hacking' ball in their court, bouncing it around freely, 'doing things' with it, profiting from an unintended result of IKEA's business model [this was meant to lower the costs for consumer NOT to spur a modern 'arts+crafts' revival]

And they got none other than the biggest name is design -* TOM DIXON *- going on it, who then brought on his pupils into it. It's charming and human to read that story - reminds me fondly of my own design school days, not nearly as prestigious as -*TOM DIXON *- but nevertheless some smarts came out of that era. If there is one way to attempt to wrestle the 'leading torch' back into its own hands, this would be such a corporate move. Who would dare question Tom Dixon's move? Right? Kind of.... I think. I think it would be better if Tom Dixon took an existing IKEA product and did something with it. I am not passing judgment on this yet, as I am waiting on that *-Tom Dixon-* item to be accessible by me - the commoner down here. So just waiting for now...

The Ypperlig collection - much tauted [via the universal IKEA catalogue!] partnership between HAY - small boutique design firm; from Copenhagen, Denmark; but be mindful that this is European Union so 'creatives', whose work is not tangible in nature can work anywhere or be based from anywhere - and IKEA - most influential furniture retailer in the world is disappointing. In my Insta post I called it - 'industrial primitive' - especially when outsourced globally - some industrial processes are so common that they become 'primitive' - the tolerances are reduced, resolutions dropped, standards lowered - however all augmented by automation. 

Furniture is something that we interact with on a personal level, we are all aware of all the details - consciously or subconsciously. And in my opinion, large number of pieces lacked that refinement and detail. Yes, automation allows for quick manufacturing but your hand will not be fooled when you run your hands down the table leg or handle those 'craft/skilled' made/painted jugs.

I am certain that the IKEA offer was very rigid - remember! you start with the price tag first - and that HAY did their best in resolving that challenge - still. BUT such 'undertakings', I think, do nothing really to advance 'the cause of furniture'. It almost felt like IKEA took on HAY - 'an everyday - accessible - design commoner' in an attempt to OFFSET the elitist move of getting -*TOM DIXON*- [try hiring -*TOM DIXON*- yourself  - $$$$$]. Last year my show was called - IKEA Hacking, the Cure for the Common Designer - for a reason. That reason was that as far I know, IKEA Hacking has no 'Tom Dixons or Philippe Starcks or Patricia Urquiolas' [no disrespect meant; they are all great designers in their own right, who contributed countless ideas to the field of design] - in my interview with 'We Demain' [French, glossy, good quality paper mag] I said that there are no 'IKEA Hacking Founders' - I certainly don't claim to 'invent IKEA Hacking' - this movement is very much driven by 'the People' - I define it as 'Accessibility, Affordability, Community', and any attempts to redefine or reshape it feel artificial and forced to me.  

It has been my opinion for a while, and I get to confirm that occasionally by talking to eager young design school grads - there is just too many products made that even a larger number of young grads compete to design for. The Field of Design - educationally - it feels like 'the Computers' of the 90's. But let us say that they are successful and they pour all their acquired knowledge - we are talking all the whimsy, refinement, technology, great user experience - into a line of furniture / decor items that is made in such a basic fashion! As a maker - somebody who makes with their hands, somebody who handles materials and makes suitability decisions, someone who grades their own effort and labour - it was repulsive. Please do not put 'hand-made' or made by 'skilled craftsperson' on something that will make me doubt my own understanding of 'skilled labour' - I wonder what passes for skilled labour in places like Romania, or Lithuania, Latvia or Vietnam? Has the West lost all its 'manufacturing appeal'?*

The HAY collaboration would have been more valuable, I think, if HAY was allowed to expand their work [vs. limiting themselves to 'industrial primitive, see above] within the amazing IKEA ecosystem of fabrication and automation. I looked very closely at that DELAKTIG 'sofa' or whatever it is, by Tom Dixon's students - an interesting undertaking of understanding of human existence - and how well it appears to be made. I am just imagining the volume of thinking and debates that happened over this piece - and of course how I was not able to participate in that discussion [!!!] BUT I will be able to participate in it once it becomes available to the public. How much better, I think, the YPPERLIG collection would have been if HAY's ideas were realized in a more refined fashion, or maybe something that is true, quality 'hand-made', 'artisanal crafted', 'skilled labour'....

To Be COntinued....

*NOT AT ALL - come hear my presentation on Jan 18 at the Assembly Hall to hear my views and opinions on 'manufacturing in the WEST' and what it means!

** which did not work out - sad face - BUT I did learn tons! - You mean there are thousands of individuals and families who could benefit from having affordable interior design solutions done quickly with very accessible budgets [much less than a RENO SHOW!!] with super quick timelines [like 2 weeks!] AND with the end result LOOKING LIKE A MILLION BUCK$? 

Totally. HGTV? 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Confessions of an IKEA Hacker - What about the Billy Bookcase? - Design Festival Entry

[picture shows a Studio Kosnik designed fireplace with media on-top, /w flex-panel; flanked by series of hacked, built-in Billy bookcases, featuring OXBERG doors, custom base, extra trim and crown mouldings] 

That's my entry to the ToDo 2018 Design Festival. I put it there so it lures the eyes, hopefully. But I do think that this is a nice design - the bookcases fit well, and the fireplace is media friendly [there is a hidden cavity that all the cables run to].

But for the show I am gonna produce some free-standing pieces - more like a nice piece of furniture - a bookcase that all you would need to do is just attach it to the wall. One is going to be modern - very modern. The other is going to be 'Fancy French' - I don't know why I keep calling it that, I guess when I am imagining the final piece, it draws heavily on those rich European interiors that populate my Instagram feed. Yea, I am a definitely a fan of 'trim' - I think a nicely design trim work can elevate the space dramatically, for a comparably low cost. I make it look like a million buck$!

Chapter 1 - The on-line listing is up for ToDo2018 - check it out!

I am gonna start the countdown to the show - that’s how much time I got to prepare, on top of doing working ‘regular job’. I am not complaining - I find that I resolve great deal of design challenges while designing and building for clients - and this show is not going to be different. I am a designer, creative-mind, first and I want to showcase that within the parameteres, resitrictions, of all the work that I take on. Often times it is on the aesthetic portion of it - I sneak in my passion for furniture design into it, by experimenting, see my Instagram to see what I am talking about. But a lot of the times it is just good, practical resolutions to problems like cable management and organization, or viewing angles, or ease of upgrades, etc. Often times I make some outrages suggestions that, as I put it, ‘are only limited by the cost to execute’ - we are not talking about some super fancy designs, more like ‘this, in my opinion, would be the absolute optimum solution for the use of this space’ - and it is often the combination of the flexibility of product and price point of IKEA.

Friday, January 19, 2018, is my PRACTICAL day - I will talk about SKETION and BESTA. I will talk about why I think those two are my ‘GO TO BOXES’. You know, IKEA Hacking is so incredibly popular with the DIY crowd that there are literally thousands of good and great hacks out there - just use the great GOOGLE search engine. It proves that there are some handy AND creative people out there - but they are amateurs, even when done by pros.


I know. I know. There are countless pro installers out there, BUT it is a rare occurance that the DESIGER ALSO INSTALLS. Usually those jobs are separated. The designers will work within the very restrictive IKEA PLANNER TOOL - make sure that there are no 'red areas' and stops. The installer gets a print out and does it.  I think that disconnect is a great barrier to creativity.


I mean, think about this - how many times will an individual design and install an IKEA Sektion kitchen? How many? 2 tops! I say! Now someone like me, who works with these boxes, over and over and over again. And thinks about how to optimize them and be more flexible with them ALL THE TIME - I tend to notice things - things that work really well… I notice things that improve your experience - small things that when resolved initially will down-stream produce a great installation experience - not just that! a great design! I will tell you, that IT IS THE GREATEST pleasure when you adjust your doors or drawer fronts - as that is the last step - and all the gaps are even and balanced and the design looks flawless… It is inspirational. That’s all I can tell you. When you step away from a project and you say to yourself, ‘You know what? I am done. Done. Done. Done.’ Because there is nothing absolutely that you can add or change anymore. Everything is perfect. That’s when I walk away from the project.

I think SEKTION especially - because it comes with SOOOO MANY styles of doors and panels and accessories - is great for desiging and hacking. It means less sourcing out and more of focusing on making it look nice, NO!, making it look like a million buck$. Hahahaha! 

Yeezus! I am just having too much fun.

Chapter 2 - Yea, it is scary.

Because it is really serious. In some ways my career will be defined by these events that I put on - it all has to be top notch content. And some topics.....? Controversial...... Non-main stream. But I think it is unavoidable - some things are changing and taking on new directions and it just HAS TO BE SAID, someone has to be first.  

Why? Because I think I make the right observations. Maybe because I am *********. Yea! I am gonna reveal something personal about myself, which I think will be a big step forward for me, and hopefully inspire others.

I look back on my school experience with fondness, I was already a father - back when it was still Sheridan College, Craft + Design program. In my class, I met a very, very wise Indian man - he was Canadian, but born in India. I think he told me that he was a Buddhist. And he was an architect, with several years of experience under his belt, about 10 years older than me. I was attracted to his 'cool and wise' demeanour - I confined in him many times and he become - jokingly - 'my colour guru'. In his design practice he was already experimenting with 'form and colour', while I was still stuck in the 'structure and grain' phase - that's what I would call it.

AND HE TOLD ME - and that is precisely why 'Buckskin Baby Review' was created - over 120 pieces were written!; my 'de-stijl days' happened; large portion of my creative, unsold undertakings were built; this is why 'IKEA HACK' - he said - 'Karol, if it DOES NOT EXIST, and you feel very strongly about it - then you should CREATE IT.'

Yep, so here I am - 'creating'.

Hopefully it goes well.