Olsztyn is our hometown, and Warmia our homeland. We are from here and have never been away for that long. We have wandered a bit around the world, but a great longing always leads us back. Warmia and Mazury is a unique place both nostalgic and expressive. Since childhood, we have absorbed the isolation, the joyful sunshine and the melancholic rain. Wood, stone, sand, these are our elements. At our first meeting twenty-five years ago, we were similar products of the environment. Of course it is not the rule that anybody born here is sensitive and connected with nature. The local community here is not any less industrialized than in any urban areas. We have independently but concurrently set out on a similar path. Vacations in the forest by the lake – swimming, sailing, walking barefoot, fishing as well as building. Building sand castles, wooden cabins and „furniture” from tree stumps, bricks, and anything else lying around. As youth we were more technically developed. Influenced by a fashionable artist from Olsztyn, Wojtek made by hand his furniture. Małgosia practiced being a fashion designer dressing herself, sisters and friends with her hand-made sweaters and dresses. So when we met, our passion for constantly creating doubled. Our education ran the standard course. Without pleasure but practical. Economic and agriculture studies. And that was the end of going with the flow, and after our studies we would always go against the flow.
We started with building our own house in an isolated place on the edge of fields and a great forest. This would be a place for ourselves and our horses.
While others were building their corporate careers, we were building a house, furniture and a garden. Each job was perfect under the condition that it was of our own accord. We were gardeners, translators and designers of clothes and later furniture. This is what finally engrossed us, as designing is our seventh sense. This is our way of expressing ourselves. A type of calling. Somewhere the spring for this calling is a protest against mass production, templates and uniformity. We were looking for common form and proportion with our sensitivity and sense of aesthetics, function as well as materials whose naturalness and durability were in agreement with our philosophy. In our opinion, furniture made with handicraft care from pure materials should last for generations, and their form should be timeless in order to fit in any era and aesthetically determined environment. The assumptions of the modern world are completely different. Furniture is useful for a short period until the next purchase. So we design furniture and objects different from anything else. Different because it is durable and independent of the current trends. Handmade as individual examples in the workshop, and not mass produced in a factory. Uniqueness is a luxury, which we allow ourselves. The modern world wants to ruthlessly crate our behaviour, tastes and needs. Going against this is a luxury. Following one’s own path is a luxury. Somewhere along the way we became artists and there is a strong need within us to exhibit our art.
This beginning, an important reason why we created Hotel Galery69 – our showroom. A place which represents our work and describes us. Opening our own gallery during times unfavourable to art is a rather back-breaking idea so we looked for a safer option. The hotel fell into our hands by accident. A holding company had begun work on turning an old country school into a hotel but failing to complete put it up for sale. So there was no gallery or other space for artistic purposes…maybe a hotel? The possibility of running such a multi-functional space, such a fantastic number of rooms to be filled with furniture, ideal lake-side location and simultaneously an easily accessible place impelled us to decide on forming a gallery-hotel. Why Galery69 written with one „L”? „Galera” is the Polish word for „galley”, a rowing ship and a synonym for hard work and a gallery with a simple association. 69 is connected with the old saying: in order to think you need a head 6 by 9. This is how an art gallery came to be used for everyday use. We filled it with our own collection of painting, sculptures and unique clothing. We are fulfilled here as creators and dictators. We create furniture, interiors, tastes and moods. We force reflection and feed on inspiration. For these senses, flavours and smells, it’s worth coming here. So that they will stay with us, so that these pieces like from a puzzle would form a beautiful life.
On sheets of paper, napkins, envelopes with letters and even sometimes quickly on receipts. Any paper surface can be used to put down some quick drawings. Ideas are born at any moment, and everything can be inspiration. Beautiful things and harmony as well as ugly and unshapely things with clashing functions. They always bring out an urge to narrate them according to us. Designs on pieces of paper with are not always completed. Often they remain as plans for the future and three are many of them. Drawers are overflowing with these pieces of paper, as well as magazines and books; even our iPad is filling up. Some of these drawings have come to nothing. as we no longer remember what they depicted. All of our talks must be saved in the form of several sketches and odd comments before they are released into oblivion. We only occasionally make use of these retrieved notes, because actually when we start on a design it is very distant in relation to the initial concept. Every moment suggests new solutions, and the first stage of realization is an exit point for further changes. Only while working with materials is the final shape determined for furniture, lamp or other object. A material with its possibilities and limits talks with us during the creation stage. Surely, very important in our joint work is the subtle division of roles. Małgosia is more of a visionary and accumulates, while Wojtek tames that vision and leads it to practical minimalism. The product must be technically and technologically perfect. Additionally over the years it has been very helpful to visualize in our minds these images. We see the same as to what there is no doubt. sudden impulses are verified immediately with the need of a pencil.
When an interior appears, most important is the task it is supposed to fulfil. Interior projections arise before the architecture. If the size of an interior is too small during the stage of drawing furniture, then we enlarge the entire piece or we essential changes. Ergonomics is unrelenting. We are unable in a small enclosed area to pack functions/furniture. If it is too large then somewhere else is too small or we too much money! If it is a hotel room, it should fulfil several functions simultaneously. Each of these functions we analyse very carefully. Place for work, for sitting, for lying. Usually there is not much space available and this is the next limiting criterion. The more limiting criteria there are, the more difficult and interesting it is. Furniture is built as a derivative of function: space, finances and style. For a particular place where it meant to be. It is exactly from that pace and for that place. This is the only way we can achieve that something that others define as architectural cohesion and consistency. Architecture, after drafting the contour as a horizontal projection, begins to grow like a plant. It is like a plant for the remaining interior, furniture and objects. It cannot be either to large, too small or overt-the-top. It must match with what is underneath. There must be a common colour scheme, texture and material. And it must be appropriate for the situation, meaning that the building must go with it surroundings. As if a dress code. In this environment we exist according to some set rules. But we do not exclude discrete originality.
Our ease in designing most likely comes from a lack an education in this field. Our minds are virgin and unformed. We look at the accomplishment of other designs with our own eyes and evaluate according to our own sensitivities. Nobody taught us how to look at this classic or that one. A bad design does not have the right to leave our workplace. So those which enter the world are confirmed by us to be good. And our conviction allows us not to go back the same things. There is nothing that we can improve. If a piece of furniture is in alignment with our body, then everything is all right with it. We go forward with the next subject. This is how this collection came to be. For us the most important is that piece which hasn’t been created yet. That gives us the drive.
Małgosia & Wojtek Żółtowsky