KIOSKEN STUDIO RESIDENT: SEPTEMBER
RESIDENCY & INTERVIEW
01.09.2023 - 30.09.2023
Nikolai Kotlarczyk was our September resident at KIOSKEN STUDIO. He works across the fields of product and interior design, and moved to Bergen from Copenhagen about a year and a half ago. During his time in Kiosken, he explored the urban and mountainous areas surrounding us on C. Sundts Gate, drawing upon textures and patterns he saw around him. We shared lunches and coffees during his time at Kiosken, and he joined Siv Stødal in participating in this year’s B-Open on the 23rd of September.
His residency resulted in a series of acrylic paint and pastel artworks, lifting motifs from the textures he saw around Kiosken. Using the technique of frottage in pastel, combined with printing-making techniques, he created this series as a reminder of the beauty of the local stone used throughout the city. It results in a kind of love-letter to the hand-labour used to take these stones from nature into the urban environment.
We interviewed him as part of KIOSKEN IN CONVERSATION, over a few email exchanges after his time at Kiosken, to gather some of his thoughts and build a picture of his time amongst our blue walls. You can read the interview below, with photos from his closing event (taken by Johanne Karlsrud) which took place on Friday 29th of Septmeber.
More about Nikolai:
Having studied interior design with experience across a number of fields within the design industry, Nikolai has worked with companies and organisations including Tait, Pulpo, New Works, The Mindcraft Project and Paper Collective. His studio is based in Copenhagen and he was educated in his native Australia, therefore his experiences provide a unique insight into the design industry on an international level. His studio collaborates with companies in Europe and Australia, and has been featured in exhibitions in Milan, Stockholm, Paris, Copenhagen and Melbourne, amongst others. His website can be found here.
KIOSKEN IN CONVERSATION: NIKOLAI KOTLARCZYK
Kiosken in Conversation is a series of interviews that engages with our current exhibiting artists, Kiosken Studio residents and Kiosken Shop artists and makers through conversations about their practices.
Due to busy schedules, mountain walks and visiting parents, we decided to exchange a couple of emails, picking up on threads lingering from September.
NK: Nikolai Kotlarczyk
RE: Ruby Eleftheriotis
11.55am Thursday 5th of October - 08.44am Tuesday 10th October 2023
I’m curious about how you spent your days in Kiosken… Did you have a project in mind before you started, or was it more open-ended?
My time in Kiosken was very deliberately hands-on, and I had planned the weeks prior to taking up residency at Kiosken what I wanted to focus on during the period - whilst still allowing room to follow the process and let my process lead. Most of my days were spent testing out colours and layering colours using blocks of linoleum. These were run several times through a printing press to achieve interesting layering and colour effects.
The other process I focused on during the residency was frottage of local stone textures found on the streets surrounding Kiosken. This process was very weather dependent, so I had to make the most of sunny days. I would take my hand-coloured paper outside to test several frottage techniques in pastel.
And from where did the series of pastel artworks – as we see them ‘finished’ today – emerge?
I wanted to honour the unique aspects of Bergen in some way, and the rocks found in the city are this really direct link to the landscape and the outdoors - which has come to define my time in Bergen. Coming from a flat city like Copenhagen, I have loved living in the mountains for the past year and a half - hiking multiple times a week. Frottage seemed like a fun step, but I wanted to do it in a colourful way that could build up a collection, not only of textures, but of colour combinations, and pastels are a great way to achieve both.
Do you often draw inspiration from your surroundings? What drew you in most to the landscape surrounding Kiosken?
I think as a designer I am maybe more aware of materiality and details than others, and a lot of inspiration comes from walking the streets and noticing small details and systems I can re-contextualise into my design practice. This is the same with raw materials. Copenhagen also has a lot of granite used throughout the city, but in Bergen it is so obvious where it comes from and how connected these finished materials are with the local landscape. Just walking around Fløyen, you can see big boulders and stones, down to pebbles and gravel extracted from the local mountains. Even in the streets surrounding Kiosken - you have so many great textures, colours and markings from the granite and slate. I wanted to champion this and remind people to look a little closer when they are travelling around the city and the mountains. I feel that collectively we seem to be too busy to notice the details in life.
When you say it is obvious where the materials come from - are you talking about Bergen’s mining history? And the inherent connection between these tools/processes and the land?
I am ultra aware and open to materials and the ways we process materials, mainly because of my design practice. I have worked with stone throughout my work but in a more modern way - using modern techniques and technology. When these stones in Bergen were laid and mined, it was with the use of hand tools. By featuring them in my works, it's another reminder to people to stop and think about how these materials enter our lives, the work that goes into taking them from nature and processing them, appreciating these materials as unique and beautiful.
Would you be able to talk a little bit about your positionality in relation to the intersection between art and design - and if... or how these two ‘worlds’ converse in your practice?
The meeting point of the two for me needs to be within the context of the project I am working on. If I am designing a light or chair to be used in a large quantity within a space, it needs to first of all be functional, but also not so loud – it needs to play with the rest of the interior. There are other products that I have worked on - like rugs or mirrors for example - that can be more artistic, decorative and colourful and more ‘featured’ within the space. But a lot of my work is inspired by art, or the urban environment or nature. What is important for me is how I bring these inspirations back into work that is functional and long-lasting – pieces people see the value in and want to keep for a very long time.