NO WÓDKA is a wonderful concept store in Prenzlauer Berg, sourcing incredible products exclusively from Polish designers! We fell in love with it at first sight and wanted to know what inspired passionate owner Aleksandra Kozlowska to set it up..
How did the idea come about to open a store with this brilliant concept?
Firstly, thank you for calling ‘NO WÓDKA` a brilliant concept! The idea to open my own space had been gradually growing on me and became clear after a crucial moment in my personal life – life is fragile and at this point I decided to catch my dreams and realise them.
I left Poland almost 13 years ago, and find it fascinating what has happened there since then. The more I was working on the concept, the more I was convinced to focus only on Polish Design. With NO WÓDKA I was able to rediscover my own country and bring the best of it to Berlin.
© Sonia Szóstak
How do you go about the selection process of what to showcase?
There are three types of criteria which are important in the selection process: high quality of the products, production based in Poland and my own aesthetic preferences – it’s a very personal project.
With my portfolio I’m not trying to cover all requests of the market, rather I’ve been creating a “NO WÓDKA style” – whereby you enter the store and either fall in love with it, or not. At first sight or never.
Are there any traits that Polish designers tend to have others might not?
Talking about some national traits can be quite complex nowadays, but for sure there are some Polish specific characteristics that distinguish design made in Poland from others.
To me Polish Design means functionalism, simplicity, and reinterpretation of the past (there is a strong tendency of “rediscovering” projects from the late 50’s and 60’s, like the chair RM58 by Modzelewski or 366 by Chierowski) but at the same time irony and innovation is very evident. It’s not pathetic or dreamed-up but sophisticated and at the same time very down-to-earth.
What did you do before setting up NO WÓDKA?
After graduating in cinema studies and Italian, I used to work for movie productions and wrote for some Polish and Italian magazines.
What were the main challenges in setting up the store?
Besides the ‘normal` challenges in business, one of the main challenges was finding the most suitable location to reach the right balance between budget and requirements.
Even more complicated was dealing with construction companies… that was a-one-of-a-kind experience!
Sometimes working with small and young brands also requires of a lot of patience! It became clear how important it is to keep a flexible mind – mostly nothing will turn out as you’ve planned and you have to accept it…
Did you always want to set it up in Prenzlauer Berg and if so, why?
At the beginning I was considering other areas, but in the end I realised that Prenzlauer Berg is my hood, I’ve been living here for more than ten years and know it better than other districts.
When selling a very specific product, the location also becomes secondary after a while. We’re getting more and more clients coming specifically to NO WÓDKA as a destination, so I’m happy with the decision I made.
What is your personal, single favourite item currently available in NO WÓDKA and why?
Often my ‘daily preferences’ change depending on my mood. The ‘axe lamp`, ‘doll head cup’, straw bed linen, DIAGO chairs or recently the work desk from the STUDIO ZIBEN – I love them all. And many, many more too.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of opening up a store in Berlin?
Have clear ideas, a flexible mind when needed, be patient, determined and love what you’re doing!
Where do you like to eat, drink and shop in Berlin?
Complete the following sentence “ For me, Berlin is….”?
..a place where you can be yourself without being judged, where you can get inspired and inspire others, where even the most weird dreams can come true…
Next time you’re in Prenzlauer Berg be sure to head to NO WÓDKA to check out their collection – it’s seriously awesome, plus Alex is very friendly and lovely to talk to too!