I recently made a trip to Warsaw, where I visited one of my friends from Detroit, Sharif Zawideh, and his girlfriend, Ania Kuczynska. Sharif is a very talented DJ and producer (among many other things he has done, he used to program the talent at Oslo, the club i co-owned in Detroit, and he was one of the resident DJ's) and Ania is, in my opinion, Poland's best designer.
To get there I took the Berlin-Warsawa Express train… about 6 hours after hopping on I arrived in Warsaw, where Sharif met me at the Central Station. Over the next few days they did an amazing job of showing me a good time, taking me around the city, feeding me home-cooked meals and showing me some of the less-explored sights.
Here are some of my favorite moments from the trip, worth checking out if you end up in Warsaw sometime (and given that it's becoming one of Europe's most popular new destinations, you should head there sooner rather than later, before it gets overrun with tourists).
1. The Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle
(csw.art.pl) This photo is a detail of the Centre's facade. They have some interesting exhibits up (Yoko Ono was showing her work when I was there) and in back there's a delicious restaurant (the name of which translates as 'the Artistic Kitchen') which has a beautiful stone terrace that offers an unbelievable view (pictured below).
2. The Bristol Hotel. After spending one night at Ania's beautiful apartment in the Mokotowa district, I checked into the Bristol Hotel, a historic Art Deco treasure on the border of 'Old Town'. The hotel is overflowing with the kind of details that modern hotels can't manage (or afford) to get right. Its brass-encased glass elevators are original, along with the acres of rich white marble, mosaic-walled swimming pool, and delicate light fixtures. It's Michelin-starred restaurant, Malinowa, offers a high-end take on traditional Polish cuisine (which I was pleasantly surprised to discover includes a lot more than just sausage). One of the best things about Poland are the reasonable prices (it seems like these days only the ultra-rich can afford to go to London or Paris), and the Bristol offers an experience that's comparable to any of Europe's top old-world hotels, but for a fraction of the price (starting at around 130 euros.. you can't even get just 1/4th of a room for that price in NY)
3. Unexpected shopping. I didn't expect much when it came to shopping in Warsaw, but Sharif showed me an interesting intersection that has evolved into the city's best selection of innovative retailers. The area doesn't have a formal name (i kept trying to get him to give me one, to make it easier to describe, but no dice. But it's on the border of Mokotowa. It would probably be easier to just google the specific shops to find their addresses). Laura was an amazing shop with an all-white interior design scheme with paper walls, all by Matteo Messervy, and the store sells Givenchy, Rick Owens, Dries van Noten, as well as Ania's stuff (which goes to show you just how talented she is, to be in that kind of company). Galilu was a rare perfumery that was closed when snapped a photo.. I swung by the next day sans camera and checked it out while open.. it's the kind of store you wish there were more of in other cities but usually real estate is too expensive to allow such a niche store to succeed unless they charge ridiculous prices for their merchandise. Flash is another progressive store (right next to Laura) which sells Jil Sander, among others. Around corner is a Nike concept store and a short distance is a furniture shop which focuses exclusively on DDR-era designs.
4. Ania's shop and her friend Agnieszka Lasota's furniture (unbelievable stuff). Ania's work is remarkable because it displays a consistent creative/artistic vision in every aspect, from the clothing itself, to her burgeoning accessories lines (handbags and jewelry), to her press materials, logo, ad campaigns, etc. I was very impressed. When I arrived at her apartment, her friend Agnieszka was over. We got to talking and the next day she stopped by to show me some images of her work. It's blurring the lines between furniture design and fine art (which is one of the last interesting boundaries that remain to be completely breached I think in creative production). The table I saw is an antique table from her childhood that is encased in glass, that has been treated (don't ask me about the process, as I don't have any clue what it entails) in a way where, if a current is run through it, it becomes temporarily opaque (similar technology has been used in changing rooms occasionally, I think in a Dior Homme shop perhaps?). She then made projections which were displayed on the table. At her opening, the table seems to disappear in some instances, like a ghost or memory of itself, and then when the projection is off, it's this strange ultramodern fossil.
5. Random photos. Here are some random shots that I think are nice. One is of a penthouse apartment.. the coolest penthouse i've ever seen. I can't imagien what it would be like to live in that kind of apartment and it kills me that it probably sold for an incredibly reasonable price (Sharif said he remembers it being on sale a year or two back but I don't think he recalled the price). Again, in NY or London, you could probably get a closet for the price of this apartment. Then there's a photo of the Supreme Court's strange sculptures and this random public art project with pegasus' (in my opinion, a big improvement over the stupid cows that graced the sidewalks of NY some years back).
So that's a snapshot of my trip. I have a backlog of things to post in the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out.
Thanks for reading,