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5 minutes with… Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Nikolai Kotlarczyk is an Australian designer who now calls Copenhagen home. This connection to the Scandi design capital has allowed him to push his designs into new directions. We catch up with Nikolai to talk latest collections and design community building.

5 minutes with… Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Photo by Pete Daly.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to the last few years? What kind of investigations and design developments have you been working on?

The past two or three years have really been about finding my voice within the design landscape and what I wanted to contribute. I have actually found that going back to my first love of architecture, along with my desire for travel and to learn about other cultures has driven my practice, bringing a new perspective to lifestyle product design. Combining this with my knowledge of the design industry has led to interesting results, in my opinion.

“I have actually found that going back to my first love of architecture, along with my desire for travel and to learn about other cultures has driven my practice.” – Nikolai Kotlarczyk

I have also been investing in my work to show at various shows in Europe, namely Stockholm Furniture Fair for the past two years. I have also shown in Milan and Paris and contributed to design exhibitions in my base of Copenhagen.

What have been your milestone moments in the last few years?

I think finding my path has really been a milestone for me. I have been working in the industry for a long time in various roles, for Tait at home in Australia and companies like Pulpo and New Works abroad.

Finding stories and influences that resonate personally has been the breakthrough moment. My focus on a refined decorative approach to design; from limited edition in-house pieces to my collaborations with companies in Italy, Denmark and back at home.

How did the collab with DesignByThem come about?

The Chapel series for DesignByThem came about from the presentation of the original prototype as part of Stockholm Furniture Fair in 2017.

I presented it in a series that took inspiration from the Baroque churches of Europe. I actually approached Nick and Sarah from DesignByThem as I had had contact with them from my time with Tait. They instantly saw the potential for a sophisticated series of tables that fits in with their bold yet refined approach to product design and manufacture.

Tell us a little about the range you’ve developed with them?

The range consists of three coffee tables, a long ellipse, a rounded rectangle, and a large circle. Each tables sizing is determined by the repetition of simple steel rings that form the different shapes. The series is available in a range of glass top options.

“The series is geometric and bold, providing a sense of opulence and sophistication.” – Nikolai Kotlarczyk

The series references the rose windows of many baroque churches throughout Europe. These windows were used by architects as a mandala within their spaces, creating symmetry and balance. I thought the same principles apply perfectly for the living room or breakout area, with the table usually being the centrepiece. The series is geometric and bold, providing a sense of opulence and sophistication.

Tell us about the experience of moving your practice from Australia to Copenhagen and how this has evolved your practice and business?

Well, the move really started as a year abroad to spread my wings and spend time in Europe. I had friends in Copenhagen from my time in Melbourne.

I really started my practice once I moved here, so it was more about starting afresh and trying to get my foot in the door, so to speak. The Danish design scene is of course, world-class – so breaking through has been a challenge.

In saying this, the community around design here is amazing. People are very supportive and there is a myriad of ways to be a designer within the community. I think being based here has allowed my work to take chances and not be so concerned with producing solely commercial work.

Australia is slowly getting to the point where you can focus on being a gallery style designer, a maker, an industrial designer, or all of the above… Denmark has been in this state for a long period. In turn, it is a great environment to really pursue the style of design you are passionate about.

“I think being based [in Copenhagen] has allowed my work to take chances and not be so concerned with producing solely commercial work.” – Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Now I have a family here and a strong base and have started working for a number of companies locally. So for now, Copenhagen is home.

Big picture vision for the next two years?

In the near future I will be heading to Biennale Interieur in Belgium in October, where my Wompoo Chair has been announced as a finalist in their Object Awards. Also during the fair, I will be announcing a collaboration with a prominent producer, creating a range of seating based on my initial Wompoo chair I presented in Stockholm. The range celebrates the vibrancy of Australia’s bird life, and will start with a dining chair and lounger and grow from there. More will be announced in October.

I am also working with a number of editors and producers in Europe as well as Australia, which will all come to light in the following year or two.

Along with these collaborations with producers, I am keen to continue developing my style and producing prototypes and limited edition pieces. I will continue to show my work around Europe and try and grow my studio in the coming years. I will continue to push a refined decorative approach to design, celebrating colour and pattern, different cultures and influences, nature and the urban world.

Back in 2015, Nikolai shared his insights from Milan Salone – have a read here.

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