Montclair Design Story
Out of 1200 applications, I was one of the 100 students who gained a seat for architecture school in Poland, after a grueling 6-hour drawing exam. I studied architecture in Poland mainly because I had drawing skills. We had a communist system, so schools were free. I studied drawing afterschool, and liked to draw faces and people, but I also had to learn to draw objects, bowls, chairs, motorcycles, and buildings. The key to drawing for architecture school was to find objects within an object, everything is made of similar components and simpler forms. During that 6-hour exam, objects were placed in the center of the room with easels placed all around the composition; we were required to draw the objects exactly from where our easel was located, and then judged on how precisely we were able to draw the composition from our angle of vision. My family and I came to the US in 1969 as an international refugee. There was a quota for Eastern Europeans and we lived in Rome for 5 months for interviews. We then lived in Brooklyn when we arrived.
I wouldn’t necessarily call this home my “American dream” because I don’t operate on those terms. I came with the idea of hard-work in mind and I had nothing planned on anything. Right away, I went to school at the Pratt Institute. I gained acceptance because the committee was very impressed with my sketch of the Guggenheim museum from 5th Avenue. Interior design is part of architecture, and I had to get very familiar with it and have done a few residential interior designs. The key to design is knowing vendors, styles, weaves of carpets, familiarity with showrooms etc. An architectural drawing is actually a legal document, where an architect is liable for everything in the document according to design codes. Architectural work was great until the recession when many architects were laid-off including myself, so we had to figure out a way to earn money without being affiliated with a firm.
Most of my interior decor items are gifts from friends or from traveling. The vase in my dining area is from a 78 year old friend who is a leading potter in America. Other items are from my travels; for example, when I lived in an ashram in India where I followed the philosophy of a guru. The idea behind my dining table is that I wanted something that reminded me of a communal restaurant in the west of France. A few of my other paintings are from avangarde painters from Poland painted in the 80s. The granite monkey that I have on display represents the despair of an artist; this is because I went to the granite display/artshow in Kingston, NY and the artist revealed to me that he was unable to sell a single piece of his art that night. I felt his struggle, and purchased this monkey for $1500 even though it was way over my budget, because I understood his despair as an artist.