Architecture without borders. This is how Marcin Tomaszewski of REFORM Architekt designs

The marriage of architecture and art is evident in his projects. Marcin Tomaszewski has completed several hundred projects. These include modern single-family houses, which he designs for demanding clients, or apartment buildings that change the face of the city. What does his work look like? What inspires him to create? And finally, what does he think of Łódź, where his studio is based? We publish the interview he gave us.

Marcin Tomaszewski runs the REFORM Architekt studio. He established the office in 2010 in Łódź. The studio’s portfolio includes single-family houses, villas, commercial building projects and interior designs. In his work, Tomaszewski pays attention to every detail. When he designs stately homes, he pays attention to how they should look in their immediate surroundings. He often suggests that sculptures should be placed in the garden to emphasise the beauty of the whole. The buildings under his dash have bold forms. The architect skilfully uses geometry to create dynamic forms, which appeals not only to his clients, but also to experts. REFORM Architekt’s studio has won many prestigious awards in international competitions, including the Iconic Award, the German Design Award and the European Property Awards Architecture. In the latter, the houses of his design won the title of “best designed houses in Poland” for three years in a row.

Kamil Białas: Is there an architect whose work has impressed you the most?

Marcin Tomaszewski: Although I try to avoid the pitfalls of excessive admiration for authority figures, as this can lead to unconsciously copying their style, I believe that there are artists who have inspired me to think of architecture as an applied art based on originality. One of the architects who has impressed me the most is Rem Koolhaas.

Koolhaas is a figure who is not afraid to push the boundaries of traditional architecture, incorporating elements from various disciplines – from urban planning to cultural theory – into his designs. I have admired him since my student days, when I was captivated by his innovation. His projects redefine the notion of the traditional building. His ability to think critically and his courage to experiment with form and function make him an artist whose work I admire and who has permanently influenced my approach to architecture.

The Dutch architect has many iconic projects to his credit. I think they would also appeal to your clients. Tell me, who turns to you for projects? If you could describe your clients, what adjectives would you use?

Although I have a wide range of clients, I would describe most of them as discerning, aware and therefore confident. They are people who have already gained significant life experience, which means that they know exactly what they expect from the collaboration. When we start working on a project, we become business partners. The clients know how they want to feel in a given space, and with my skills and experience I can provide them with that.

I attract people who are open to innovation and committed. These are people who value originality and functionality in architecture and are looking for solutions that combine aesthetics with practicality. They are people with refined taste who want their spaces to be not only beautiful, but also well thought out and adapted to the specific needs of the users.

Architect Marcin Tomaszewski

What does your design process look like? The client comes forward, invites you to the plot and…?

There is a lot going on in an architect’s workplace, so careful preparation for each stage is fundamental. Before I go to the plot, I have detailed discussions with the client, check the local zoning plan, download maps and analyse the neighbourhood. Even then, I already know enough about the area to be able to analyse this information while on site, draw conclusions and look for inspiration.

Then I move on to the creative stage, which in my case already involves drawing. Sometimes I have an idea right away, other times it appears gradually, but my creative process works like a well-oiled machine. I am not fond of delays, so in my business, punctuality is a priority.

Of course, like everyone, I have my down days, but I don’t allow myself to suspend work. I often work late, moving walls or correcting shapes to achieve complete satisfaction with a project. This punctuality and commitment are the foundations of my company, allowing me to deliver top-quality projects to clients, always on time.

Are you willing to negotiate? Do you have the comfort that clients give you 100 per cent free rein in your work?

Negotiation is probably too strong a word. In fact, as an architect, I see the design process more as selling my experience and skills. Architecture is, after all, an art, but it’s important to remember that my designs will be the reality for the people who come to me – they will live, work or park their vehicles there. My aim, therefore, is to understand their needs – both those they will tell me about and those they may not yet be aware of, but which could have a significant impact on their daily lives.

I try to give clients maximum freedom to express their expectations and preferences, and they choose me because of my skills and knowledge, which is why I value the trust they place in me so much. There are often discussions during which I explain why the chosen solutions are the best. I derive this knowledge from having prepared and tested various options beforehand. Nevertheless, I strive to find a balance between the client’s vision and my expertise, so that the final design is both functional, aesthetically pleasing and meets all requirements.

PHANTENOM CASA

I often see art in your projects. These are large formats set in the garden or right next to the building. What role does art play in your projects?

Art plays an extremely important role in my projects, being an integral part of the whole architectural concept. Of course, the building itself is a form of artistic expression, but people are often looking for more than just plain walls. Greenery, finesse additions or even complete obscurity are ways in which they try to enrich the space.

Personally, I am fascinated by the beauty of raw materials and colours, so I don’t want such additions to disfigure a building. For me, the walls become a canvas that I want to complement with something equally appealing to the eye. Art, placed strategically in a space, influences the senses, inspires the observer and becomes an asset to the building, not just an aperture. Large formats placed in the garden or in front of the building not only add to the aesthetics, but also create an interactive and engaging space that encourages reflection and dialogue with the environment.

You run your office in Łódź. Is it your favourite place to live?

My relationship with Łódź goes back to the very beginning of my professional path. It was here that I studied and started my career as an architect. Today, a large part of my projects are created in this city.

Łódź is a place that evokes extreme emotions, but for me it is above all a source of inspiration. In a way, Łódź shows how a space can develop by respecting its history. Both in its modern and in its historical corners, where the walls of the tenement houses still tell the story of the city of textile factory owners, unique examples of architecture can be found. In creating my office’s new identity, I was keen to make a strong connection with this approach. Knowing the existing architecture allows me to reinterpret and create innovative designs – because it is impossible to create the future in the present without knowing the past.

A new apartment building of your design has been built in Łódź. NEW IRON is an iron building. Do you think it will be an impulse for change in the immediate surroundings?

From the very beginning of this project, many have wondered why we choose to build such a modern building in such an unconventional neighbourhood. However, I was convinced that sometimes you need an impetus for greater change. It turned out that I was right. NEW IRON provided the impetus to renew the facades of some of the buildings in the neighbourhood, even before its construction was completed. The building itself became a kind of focal point, catching the eye of passers-by and absorbing all their attention and admiration.

A plot of land like this, empty and located in the heart of the city, doesn’t happen often, so realising its potential was important to me. Łódź has undergone enormous changes in the last decade. They are still ongoing. I am happy to have been part of this evolution.

NEW IRON

The list of industry awards you have won is impressive. Congratulations! Which one are you most happy about?

Awards always make me happy, but the most satisfying is the fact that I have managed to win the same award for several years in a row. I am talking about the award for the best single-family house in Poland, which I received in 2020, 2021 and 2022, successively for the LIKESIDE HOUSE, PERFECT HOUSE and Q HOUSE projects. These projects were innovative in their time, but still hit today’s tastes, despite the constant changes in the industry. This proves that I have been able to maintain a high standard and that projects created several years ago are still relevant.

Receiving three such awards in three years is no coincidence. It is the result of hard work. Both I and my team are committed to continuous development. This fills me with a sense of pride and attracts clients to our office. It also demonstrates an ability to set trends and shape the future of the industry. For me, it’s motivation to continue to hone my skills and seek ever more innovative solutions. Receiving such accolades, I feel obliged to continue my mission to create unique and inspiring designs that will stand the test of time.

Thank you for the interview!

Find out more about REFORM Architekt at: reformarchitekt.pl. And you can find more projects by Marcin Tomaszewski in our articles:

Also read: villas and residences | REFORM Architect | Łódź | single-family house | flat | whiteMAD on Instagram

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