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Determination to cross boundaries - meeting with Boris Kudlička with Partners studio

02 of May '23

Architect and set designer Boris Kudlička boldly operates with artistic sensibility, instinct, bold ideas and a collaborative approach to design - qualities that are responsible for the uniqueness and cohesive nature of the Boris Kudlička with Partners studio. After years of working in theater and opera, he founded the studio in 2018, which continues to evolve, attracted by the power to tell stories that build excitement and a new identity for places. Regardless of the size, style or complexity of a development, it's hard not to be enthralled by the sensually stimulating interiors and complex architectural narrative that Boris Kudlička, Weronika Libiszowska, Rafał Otłog and their team conduct with the space.

Boris Kudlička

Boris Kudlička

Photo: Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

Together you create stunning realizations, integrating architecture, refined materials, custom furniture, antiques and works of art, reflecting the personality of your clients. Currently, you are realizing the author's vision of the self-sustainable luxury settlement Kalbornia Mazury. You design the interiors of luxury hotels, private homes, modern wellness medicine clinics or award-winning restaurants. You create all over the world, revitalizing and expanding the historic fabric. Together with Veronika and Rafal, you are the core of a team of sixteen architects. How did this adventure together begin?

Weronika Libiszowska

Weronika Libiszowska

Photo: Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

Weronika Libiszowska Boris, Rafal and I have been working together for almost nine years. In 2018, after the completion of the European Hotel project, a group of architects specializing in more demanding interiors projects naturally emerged from the WWAA team where we worked. It was the perfect time to set up our own office, with Boris in a leadership role. Rafal has been working with him the longest, as he joined WWAA before me.

RafalOtłog. .. in 2014. With Boris we quickly understood each other from a design angle. I was fascinated by his different approach, previously I was closer to design and applied art. My family convinced me that the chance to dream of designing cars might not present itself. So I chose architecture, which was a "smoothed" version of what I wanted to do. I quickly became engrossed and interested in the history of the discipline, especially how the timeless themes of numbers, proportions and axiality recur throughout history. I gained a profession, but I was still missing something in this typically architectural microcosm. And suddenly I met Boris! A designer who does not shy away from color, form and experimentation.

Boris Kudlicka I always emphasize that I wouldn't have been able to do anything on my own. After Raffles Europejski we knew that this area had potential, so the thread of similar realizations, always associated with a very demanding investor, is worth leading on. We acquired a huge amount of knowledge. The question arose whether we were able to use it somewhere. The answer was the formation of a team, under the new brand Kudlicka with Partners, which we continue to expand with more architects.

Rafał Otłog

Rafał Otłog

Photo: Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

Rafal was immediately fascinated by Boris' artistic imagination....

RO The opportunity to talk about design with someone who is much higher on the career path was exciting for me. So was working with materials, colors and forms that are inaccessible to a beginning architect when doing typical commissions. You're bouncing off a wall that's hard to push through on your own. The master stands on a pedestal and tells you what is pretty and what is ugly. What is ugly should be laughed at, and what is pretty should be worshiped. And here comes Boris and ... opens the door. It turns out that there is still a door in this wall!

RO Boris is the undisputed mentor, and he also takes ultimate responsibility. Much of the creation stays on his side. His name as the name of the company is a recognizable brand. It is followed by a certain kind of thinking, know-how and vision that inspires us as well. As partners, we are his support, so that Boris can devote himself to what he is best at, which is creating.

WL Creating a vision. Because clients who come to us expect such a vision and an artist who will talk about it, engage in conversation and convince.

RO At the same time, the artist needs a trusted voice to say: no, we won't deal with it now, it can wait... Boris expects us to pull him down to earth.

Hotel Europejski

Hotel Europejski

Photo: Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

And in return he will open the door in the wall for you?

WL For me it was very exciting! Opening a door that I always knew about, but lacked those few digits to crack the code.

Veronica,you are amaster engineer artist architect. An intriguing title...

WL: I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, but my major was combined with Polytechnic. This probably explains why I searched for years for my place between architecture, interior design and design. The specifics of my studies awakened in me the desire to develop in the direction of interiors, but I started with a strictly architectural firm. I started my own business and took on project management. The moment I met Boris and Rafal it became clear that this was it! With each project we look for an overarching idea with a unique story.Here I finally found a place where I feel comfortable as a designer ...

Hotel Europejski

Hotel Europejski

Photo by Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

... engineer and artist in one ...

WL "Engineering" in my case is the approach to the process of running a project. I am an organized person who plans it in stages. The "engineer" gene in an artist is responsible for that.

BK I think there are still other qualities of Veronika that make her irreplaceable. For example, this "touch" that characterizes her work with material, color, sculpture ....

WL I used to design installations of neon signs. Arts and crafts have always been close to me. Even as a ten-year-old I was repainting the furniture in my room!

BK Worth mentioning is another priceless advantage: psychological approach! I see Rafal as a philosopher and Veronica as a psychologist.

Hotel Europejski

Europejski Hotel

Photo: Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

Psychologist, philosopher and ... visionary?

WL Visionary. Well, yes, a good one!

BK I like this situation of an open door in the wall. I regularly undertake things that - if I were more conservative or analyzed all the risks - I probably wouldn't do. Because they involve the risk that I won't live up to the process or I won't live up to the subject, I realize that. However, I like the kind of excitement associated with this "extreme sport". This is what we started with when realizing the European Hotel, a huge challenge. It took courage to go into this subject.

The interiors of the Raffles Europejski Hotel are the mostrecognizable realization commonly associated with Kudlicka with Partners ....

BK Hotel Europejski certainly shows the scale available to us, while projects in Qatar or Doha are proof that we also move in other cultural contexts. One of our projects, the Zurich office, a contemporary realization in a historic villa, shows us as practitioners of activities that go beyond simple revitalization.

In combining a historic "shell" with a contemporary interior or modern superstructure, you are excellent!

BK We like juxtapositions. Even such elements that seem impossible to combine. With the juxtaposition of various materials we build a story. And the exploration of the historic fabric has accompanied us from the beginning, as it already concerned the European Hotel. Thanks to this, today the issues of conservation arrangements are nothing new for us. Which does not mean that we exclusively recreate. Rather, we create new spaces based on their history. At the moment, we are working on an innovative concept for a dormitory for SWPS located in Sopot, in a conservation zone.

RO Working with historical context is most interesting when there is a "twist". He is always the most important with us. Clashing two motifs in such a way that the whole begins to be original, vivid and that an internal dialogue appears in the project.

Restauracja Dock 19

Restaurant Dock 19

Photo by Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

An intriguing tension?

RO Yes, tension. Historical objects are procedurally and technically difficult, but from the creative side they are sometimes easier than those created here and now. We just have to find that "twist" in them, which we will collide something with later. When we create architecture from scratch, on the other hand, our task is to come up with both poles that will communicate or collide with each other.

WL Historical architecture is a lesson for us in craftsmanship, detailing....

BK As well as facing limitations and finding solutions. Challenges are like blocks that we rearrange, cut, and create our own vision of a composition, in our opinion the most interesting one.

RO At the same time, we take great care that the input of work is not felt in the finished realization, because then the whole thing ceases to be light and interesting. This kind of "drudgery" of the designer can be seen at first glance.

BK: That's true, especially since our clients have high expectations. They are not building their first, second or even third house. We have to go half a step ahead of them, introduce them to another interesting world. Such customers are very experienced as users, also on the technological side. They throw us more challenges, so that we go higher and further. Premium designs don't involve a lot of brass or gold, but quality finishes, unique craftsmanship and art whose presence gives a space a unique character. We strive to ensure that the projects we propose are not copies of magazine implementations, but have a trace of our personalities and boldness. We are not afraid of color, intense effects: dark, light, wooden interiors. We are not looking for a homogeneous style, recognizable like a signature. For us it is completely irrelevant. The most important thing is that the project tells a good story. That it can be defended as an idea, a concept, a creative process. If this is the case, the result in the form of implementation becomes expressive, individual and timeless.

RO It seems to everyone that the higher the project outlay, the nicer the design, because you can go crazy indefinitely. Fortunately - or it would be boring - as a function of budget, expectations grow not linearly, but exponentially. So at a certain point we reach "absurd" wishes, which, by the way, we are more than happy to fulfill!

Sense Med

Sense Med

Photo by Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

WL We are constantly developing in the field of technology. However, we avoid exaggeration. Because an overload of visible technology is not desired by our clients. Technology is only supposed to make the space easier to use and enjoyable to be in.

BK A space in which the trace of an architect's, designer's, craftsman's hand is legible - is always alive. It has depth, it breathes. Technology, as it is in the theater, must remain absolutely invisible! Because this is not a story about futuristic technology, but about the emotion we build with its help. Often with complicated solutions, as in the case of the lighting of the space, to which we pay a great deal of attention.

Do you practice light directing?

BK Dramaturgy, painting and framing with light...Conscious use of lighting is extremely important to us in highlighting the character of interiors. Light and color that is closely related to it. Incidentally, I think that no one is able on the proverbial piece of paper - thinking about a space that does not yet exist, in relation to the natural and artificial light that is yet to fill it - to decide with 100% certainty that this and not another shade of color is the best. You may end up having to change it in the end.

Sense Med

Sense Med

Photo by Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

What are you currently working on?

BK Among other things, on a large realization in Malta. A private residence, located partly within the historic architecture. It's a project that reflects the range of our interests. From the revitalization of historic interiors, to contemporary design, to the expansion of these areas with modern architecture. We will present the full range of our capabilities here.

WL We are currently working on twenty projects in parallel! Another one is the manor-farm establishment in Obory. Construction is slowly starting, so we have an exciting stage of supervision ahead of us. We also have several beauty projects underway, namely cosmetic surgery clinics and spas. There are different challenges associated with them than with historic architecture. One of these spaces is located in an office building. Seemingly one with the other - an office building and a spa - cannot be combined, but we created a story in which we manage to juxtapose these two worlds. We tapped into the emotions associated with holistic self-care.

RO Already from the threshold foreshadowing what to expect next. All in a calming atmosphere of zen....

WL This spa plans a lifestyle; designs a new, healthy way of functioning. The interior corresponds to the message, remaining a background for the story.

Sense Med

Sense Med

Photo: Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

I know that the realization of your first all-environmental premise,whose context is natureuncontaminated by civilization , hasalready begun....

WL Boris is one of the investors of New Liliopolis, behind the Kalbornia Mazury project - an ecological, self-sustainable settlement located on a clean lake surrounded by forest. With its own marina, restaurant and other common areas. Immersed in nature, a luxurious oasis of slow living, with all the amenities that advanced technology offers. In picturesque Kalbornia, in the scenic Dylewskie Hills, just two hours from Warsaw.

BK Through the realization, which we call "Here Forest There Water," we are touching on fully ecological, sustainable design in a premium version. It's an experiment that will certainly influence our studio's future projects. It is being built on the site of a former resort on Lake Dabrowa Wielka, on an area of 12 hectares. We are creating an estate of year-round houses of varying size, with a central reception and common spaces such as the beach, harbor, piers and parking. The entire premise is based on low-impact, wood-insulated architecture. All buildings will be prepared in modules, transported later to the site, so that the impact of the process on the ecosystem will be as small as possible. The topic of ecological insulation is particularly interesting to me. If I were building a house for myself today, I would definitely go with wood. Without losing anything in terms of functionality, because the new products, which are at the same time the most traditional building elements, have very high performance. Such wooden "thermoses" that heat up very quickly and stay warm for a long time. Here Forest there Water is an amazing lesson for me on a living organism ....

You, the stage designer,talk about it with such enthusiasm !

BK Because it's the concreteness that I was a little lacking in the ephemeral art of set design. The common ground between theater and architecture remains that, all in all ... anything is possible! It remains only a matter of finding the right tools. In a sense, I approach the creation of architecture similarly to stage design, where I am tasked with creating a story and emotion in a "black box". In architecture, emotions are also important.

WL Probably the most important! This kind of thinking defines us as a studio. Architecture affects every area of life, where we live, work, spend our leisure time, it has the power to influence our experiences.

BK Every space evokes emotion. In response to how it opens or closes on us, how it directs us or even controls us. Not every room will make us feel good when we enter it. There are an infinite number of space-related factors that influence our mood and behavior. This is what we work with and juggle. I think sensitivity is incredibly important. To color, light, space. We can create something beautiful, but an insensitive person will not notice it. We assume that in every case - the private user, the hotel guest, the casual passerby - it is pleasant to be in a space that moves, speaks, leaves a trace in us. If through a space we can leave a reflection in someone and create a positive experience, this is a "side" action of architecture that we particularly appreciate.

Villa Lindengut

Villa Lindengut

Photo by Sebastian Rzepka and Pion Studio

Kudlicka with Partners is not only architecture....

WL We created the helicopter. Now we are thinking of developing into designing original lines of lighting, furniture or carpets. Thus, we are going back to our "roots", i.e. the European Hotel, where we relied on Polish craftsmanship and domestic contractors. Over the years, the theme has regularly returned. Thus, each time in our realizations there were original solutions.

BK At Europejski we created a line of furniture: a bed, a desk and a dressing table. Using the technological knowledge of craftsmen. Participating in the process, taking care of every detail, selecting materials and discussing the final shape with the craftsmen. This approach makes our designs one-of-a-kind, with pieces we can't pick off the shelf. Designed for a specific story. In addition, surreal elements in the real world build an aura of uniqueness. For example, the clinic project we recently completed included an artistic installation of herbs, the prototype of which now adorns our studio. We use various artistic procedures, assuming the creation of a prototype or conducting an experiment. We work differently when we use objects from a catalog, which are predictable. And differently when we draw something on a piece of paper that is an undefined shape in our imagination. We need to find the material and the artist to help us realize that vision. It's a demanding path, but the result of work carried out in this way brings an incomparable quality to the space. The conversations we have with the contractors with whom we embark on these journeys are inspiring for both parties.

WL We move between applied art and art in general. We like objects on the verge of artistic installation, sculptures designed by engineers. This is usually the complement to the story and the icing on the cake.

RO There are times when what we need is yet to be produced and we have to contribute to it. This is the path we've been following from the very beginning.

BK If we work with an existing site, we take into account the people, the place, the transformations and the specific build-ups. Everything is taken into account in the response that the project will be. When, on the other hand, we do a completely new thing, we always ask ourselves: what does the space say? It's not enough that it will be pretty.

Sowhat are your spaces about?

BK They are. stories written in context; sometimes about history, sometimes about a view, and sometimes about people. We don't have one key to them. I think it's easier to design when we can paint a concept in words. Then we don't just arrive at random aesthetic discoveries. In our opinion, the "spine" of the story is the essence of good design.

And what is your ideal client?

RO Bold. Full of confidence.

WL Creative. Desiring to create a one-of-a-kind story with us. We like clients who activate us. They make us expand our horizons, push our boundaries.

BK One who expects to be drawn into the story; wants to be swept up in it and go beyond the scheme. Then together we can experience something unique. With tremendous mutual trust, go through the stages and sustain the initial excitement ....

And the clientwho feels that none of the offices he has talked to so far have been able to respond to his needs?

RO Such a client is especially welcome!

BK Sometimes it happens that we are another office that the client is testing for an extremely demanding project. He had previously rejected concepts from other studios, and we managed to complete the process with a satisfied investor.

RO Design is a shared adventure, so everyone has to give something from themselves, both us and the client, by design very diverse. A commitment to precision and elegance helps a lot in this.

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