Matylda Krzykowski is an unstoppable force of nature. A freelance design curator, design journalist, blogger behind design-art blog matandme, wannabe gardener when not traveling, which is much of the time, and one of the founders of design space Depot Basel. We recently caught up to her for a few minutes to (try to) ask about her biggest project yet, Depot Basel.
Photo, above: Christine Bongartz.
Harry Wakefield: Where in the world is Matylda today?
Matylda Krzykowski: Matylda is on the couch in her house in Maastricht, with the laptop on the lap, looking in between, out of the big windows to her garden. I just did some garden work before you contacted me... weed removing.
(smiling) We wanted to talk to you about the latest show at Depot Basel, but let's start with Depot Basel... what is it?
Depot Basel is a self-initiated project. We call it a 'place for contemporary design'. What we do is bring people together that deal with design, that we consider as exciting or worth to show.
Did you see a need? Was there another motivation?
Prelude 01, the creation of Depot Basel is itself the first exhibit. Nine international designers take a week to build "What is missing in the Depot Basel space".
You got strict, insutionalised organisations that deal with designs, they got commercial partners and restrictions, many times the content suffers from that. Because all is based on money.
Are there that many designers who fall outside of those boundaries?
How do you mean? or what do you mean?
You obviously saw work that should be shown ... and wasn't. But was there that much?
Yes, there is a lot that is focused too much on, and content that is not pointed out yet. Curating means to gather all you see in your head for a long time until you think that you've got a system together that makes sense to give it a theme. I make my decicions by intuition first.
Where did you see this work? Clearly not in the institutional framework.
Absolutely not. But if you are your own boss, you can do it. What I describe in one sentence sounds easy, but it takes a lot of time. Designers are regularly selfish, because they watch themselves closely but don't see the wider context of what is out there.
Prelude 01 - A Dialogue - Documentary
So where do these designs come from?
I see many design studios and their owners which gives me an insight into what can be out there or what shoud be unveiled.
So you travel a lot. And you know these designers personally?
Yes, I do. Also I like to keep in touch with most of them.. on a private basis too... and in that case you talk about your projects and intentions and you share. Frankly speaking, I think communication is the key at the end.
Some of them I know briefly... some of them since a long time. The nice thing is the more you know the more they believe in you.
So Depot Basel is the depot for these designs, these designers, in a way, for all these relationships.
Drawn interview with Martino Gamper.
We're fans of the drawings! That's a book by the way.
... but once I met some of them, people undertsood the concept and that I am doing this not just for the drawings itself, but because I am really interested in their creative minds and habits.
I am aiming to make a book out if it. But I am not rushing with it, because... here comes a cliché... good things need time. Or something like that.
Agreed. So Depot Basel...
I get energy from meeting a designer... from seeing how he works, what he's got at home or the studio... how he drinks his tea and how he answers questions... the way he communicates and how he sits on his chair.
I find those details interesting as well. It's why we attend shows.
They're all so very different. I am interested in the person... and then comes the work.
And yet, alike.
I wouldn agree on the 'yet, alike', because I am not a fan of clichés, even if I mentioned one earlier. How ironic... haha.
Alike in that they're astute observers, and meticulous. That's the common thread I've seen. And humble ... for the most part.
To be honest, some of them are far away from being an observer. Observing is looking far, some of them just look at themselves. And that's not very far.
No names. That would kill me.
(smile) Ok, so about Depot Basel, what have you done there?
The Depot Basel team.
We are all mutual members, but Laura Pregger brought us together, she is a designer based in Basel. I met her four years ago when I did a series of interviews for Dtnk.com at the London design festival. I saw her many times again and at my Achille show was watching the exhibition I did together with Marco Lorusso in Milan last year... she asked me if I would come to Art Basel again and I said: just when we do a project and laughed. I actually meant a dinner party (I love making them, did a Polish dinner for 120 people during Designers Open in East Germany a while ago).
She called me in mid May and said that she got a space offer from a Foundation. If I want to define a concept for it together with her. I saw pictures and didnt hesitate for even 1 sec to do it. For starters because of the location, an old grain silo that is 100 years old (I am in love with concrete buildings and brutalist and modernist architecture) and the other reaosn was the curiosity of the Swiss Design Market.
Is it curious?
It is different.
Or were you curious?
I think I was. I dont want to read about things, I rather experience them.
I was just about to say that...
That's why I do the blog. The drawn interviews, all the other projects... If you can combine an experience with a feeling you had, you are able to judge them.
Is Depot Basel your base now?
If I live there? Sure, I got a little corner in the 800 m2 soace where I got a tent.
No, where you put most of your curatorial effort.
When someone enters I give them a guided tour. (smiles)
I wouldn't say most curatorial effort.
How many exhibitions now at Depot Basel? Three or four now, no?
Ok, I'm off a bit. That's a lot.
Not all of them are exhibitions.
When we started we came up with a little system, first we wrote a manifesto. I think it is not always necessary to say what you are but for me it was importaht to say what we don't want to be. We are not a fair, nor a festival. Not a museum, a showroom or a gallery. We are a temporary place for contemporary design, with only the best intentions.
That's sounds honourable.
Best intentions because we are willing to put a lot of energy and focus on the content of Depot Basel and we don't have a commercial partner or institution that pays our pay check monthly.
When others go for drinks or watch tv, I reserach, write, talk and am curious non stop. The key is 'like what you do or do something else'.
Damn all these clichés.
It works though. Context is everything! Thought I'd through one in...
Then we had to plan last year what occurences we want to have in our first year of Depot Basel. To be honest, we did too much, but that's what you don't know when you start. It is way more complex to plan an event - also the communication part with all the people involved can be very tiring. We alrady know that next year we will just do two, max three exhibitions. Instead of a series of events, like this year, that are eleven so far... and there are two more coming this year... but not in Basel. By the way, I rather say occurence or happening than event.
We should stop here and continue later. Part two will be the current show...
Sure. I am unstoppable sometimes...
No, thank you!