Part of me will always be Polish. My mum grew up in the city of Wroclaw until about the age of 20 and I still have many relatives who live there. While my mum has never been one to steadfastly hold onto her heritage, I still have, nonetheless, a love of poppyseed cake and pierogi (a cross between ravioli and dumplings). Only last week I took mum to a great little Polish restaurant, Na Zdrowie, in Glebe for her birthday. It means "good health" and is what you say instead of "cheers". Anyway, the Polish theme continues because the week before I met Kasia Jacquot, the designer behind Laikonik, at the Powerhouse Museum's Young Blood Markets. She has a Polish background, too, and wholeheartedly embraces the country's folk traditions in her designs.
What five words best describe you? Happy, busy, chaotic, colourful mum!
What's your proudest achievement? There’s a certain finality in answering that question. I’ve had many proud achievements throughout my life. I continue to be proud of the fact that I finally started up my business which has been a dream for many years but I never had the courage to just go and do it. But, equally, I feel proud when I manage to help one of my children understand something and it makes them feel better.
Who inspires you? My children inspire me with their imagination. As adults we think we have it all figured out and they just go and do something in a totally different way and that inspires me and reminds me to keep a fresh outlook and always an open mind to new possibilities. Things don’t always need to be done the same way. My daughter is particularly innovative; she can make toys out of odd bits and pieces she finds around the house. I love it!
What are you passionate about? My work at Laikonik and Polish and eastern European folk art. I won’t ever run out of ideas because they come at me a hundred miles an hour often when I’m in bed at night. I adore everything that is Eastern European and folksy. The designs are so sincere with no air of importance about them. That’s partly why I’m so passionate about it all because it’s so honest and it’s what I always hope to be with all my work. Never for it to be purely about the end result or the sales. It’s about the process and where it all comes from.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? You have to be honest no matter what. I don’t just mean always tell the truth in the way we explain it to children but to be honest with yourself and be honest in your work. In my work I try to be honest about why I’m doing a design. If I find that I’ve come up with something because I think it would look good in a magazine or because I think it fits in with the latest trends and will sell well then it gets scrapped. It needs to have come from an honest desire to create something unique and aesthetic. And I believe it can only ever be unique if it sincerely comes from me.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? That one took some thinking and there are certainly a lot of people I’d love to meet but I think I’d have to say my great grandmother Olga. She passed away when I was ten years old. I wish I could sit down with her and ask her all about our family history and what life was like all those years ago. In fact I’d like to meet many of my deceased relatives for exactly the same reason. I think we don’t pay enough attention to our past until we start to age and often it’s too late to ask someone.
What are you excited about? I’m jumping out of my skin at the arrival of my new silk-screens with new designs on them. I will be launching a new range of silk-screen printed wrapping paper with polish folk art designs. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty in my studio (read dining room table). I can’t get enough of screen-printing onto paper and in fact onto every possible surface. Recently I rummaged through the building site next door and found some fantastic circular pieces of timber that were discarded by the builders. I screen printed onto those and didn’t even bother sanding them back I love them they’re on my wall now.
What's next? Before I jump head first into another project I will update my website. Then over the next six months I will be launching several new products and working on Christmas stock. I am also expanding the retail range of the once-a-year books into Melbourne, Queensland and South Australia and possibly other states as well.
Images courtesy of Laikonik