Take a Trip to the Dacha With Civilian Projects’ Nicko Elliott and Ksenia Kagner

The architects winter party setting brings warmth and family to the outdoors.

"We love hosting," says Ksenia Kagner, co-principal of New York architecture firm Civilian Projects. "Throughout the pandemic, and with two young kids who also needed to maintain social connections, we shifted our socializing to the backyard, even in the winter." Through various interiors and buildings, she and partner Nicko Elliott have curated a colorful and expressive yet restrained aesthetic that is reflected in their self-renovated Brooklyn townhouse.

Ksenia Kagner and Nicko Elliott’s outdoor mise-en-place is brought together by a Méret Oppenheim-inspired furry tablecloth.

Ksenia Kagner and Nicko Elliott’s outdoor mise-en-place is brought together by a Méret Oppenheim-inspired furry tablecloth.

 "We value craft, material, and tactility and believe relationships between objects tell stories," Kagner adds. "We try to create a home and work life based on empathy."

 KnIndustriie’s solid cutlery balances more surrealistic glassware from The Long Confidence.   

 KnIndustriie’s solid cutlery balances more surrealistic glassware from The Long Confidence.   


The theatrical setting includes Jaye Kim ceramic cake stands and oversize serving forks.

The theatrical setting includes Jaye Kim ceramic cake stands and oversize serving forks.

The duo drew inspiration for memories of visits to Kagner’s family dacha in Kazakhstan before winter’s arrival. "Family vacation spaces have a beauty because of the generational layers," Elliott says. When setting up for a party or dinner, they like to include a mix of things from their respective childhoods, durable items they’ve bought, and things made by people they admire. 

Dwell Recommends

Slash Objects Round Rubber Coasters
Set of four round coasters made of recycled rubber to protect your surfaces in style.
Max ID NY 3 Piece Dinner Set
A three piece dinner set hand-forged from solid stainless steel for comfortable holding. Inspired by the beauty of the material it is crafted from.
Bzippy Hex Vase
A geometric vase inspired by Brutalist design, featuring stacked hexagonal shapes from Los Angeles-based ceramic design studio, BZIPPY. This piece mirrors notable elements of the designer's signature Hex planter series, adapted for the glass production of this collection of vases.

Published

Get the Dwell Newsletter

Be the first to see our latest home tours, design news, and more.