Warsaw Loft with Multifunctional Furniture
To maximize their small Warsaw loft, transatlantic designers Aleksander Novak-Zemplinski and Becky Nix handcrafted a fleet of double-duty furnishings.
Aleksander Novak-Zemplinski and Becky Nix met thanks to a student exchange program between the architecture schools at the University of Detroit Mercy and the Warsaw Polytechnic University of Technology. After stints working in architecture firms in Los Angeles, the couple now divides their time between Warsaw and Detroit. A little over two years ago, they moved into a roughly 1,000-square-foot apartment they bought in a spanking-new subdivision in Warsaw. “We decided to make it an experimental project,” says Novak-Zemplinski. So they set up a wood shop in what would be the living room, and, to the extreme puzzlement of the neighbors, proceeded to build just about everything in the apartment themselves, by hand.
Nix: We’ve lived in a lot of small places. We’ve tried to incorporate the lessons we learned so we could really improve the space. When it’s this small, you have to be organized.
Novak-Zemplinski: Our home is like a machine. You can move things, reconfigure the space.
Nix: We wanted a big living room, but if guests come, we want them to have private space. So we invented what we call the Cube. You can open it up, pull down the Murphy bed, then slide out the pocket doors to form a wall. Once the Cube is closed back up, you don’t even realize the space segments.
Novak-Zemplinski: The Cube is like a little robot—it transforms into a room, then back into a big box. We have lots of robots here. Like the coffee table: Stand any of its parts upright, and they turn into barstools.
Nix: To socialize, everyone gathers in the kitchen. So we decided to make the kitchen part of the living room. It’s the hearth, where you gather around. But we also wanted a library in there.
Nix: For about two years, this was a lab. We didn’t have everything designed beforehand. It was always “What do you think of this?” A lot of adjustments we made onsite.
Novak-Zemplinski: We had pretty basic tools, minimal in form and purpose. So when designing the furniture, we chose simple shapes to make it as easy as possible.
Novak-Zemplinski: By American standards, the 135-square-foot bedroom is very small. For a Communist bedroom, it’s huge. This is a small apartment; we wanted to keep as much open space as possible.
Nix: We don’t believe you need a lot of room for a bedroom—it’s just used for sleeping and…other things, as they say. We made everything in the apartment but the BoConcept sofa. The pieces we created are not of the highest quality, nor are they high design. But it was more about the process of trying and learning. It’s nice to feel like you’ve created something. There’s a story everywhere.