Bethan Andrews meets self-taught designer Kamil Wangin, who has recently founded the popular North Home in Leeds
“My gran always used to say ‘we’re too poor to buy cheap stuff’,” smiles Kamil Wangin. Conscious designing is something that shines through when I sit down to chat with Kamil, designer and founder of North Home, a new, independent interiors store that is exclusive to the Victoria Quarter in Leeds. The ethos of the store is rooted in Nordic design and his gran’s own motto of quality, curation and timelessness, and through it Kamil is slowly bringing Nordic design to the masses in Yorkshire.
So, how did he come to be in the design and interiors world? Half Norwegian, half Polish and having grown up in Poland, Kamil has always been passionate about design and interiors. He tells me about how he designed five rooms in his parents’ house as a teenager and that after being a buyer for a store in Chelsea and immersing himself in Paris trade shows, he realised how much he loved sourcing interiors products and spending money wisely. Although not formally trained in design, Kamil moved to Yorkshire and this led to him designing his partner’s Leeds restaurant, Fint, alongside and with the support of acclaimed interior designer Vivienne Hayman. “When I was buying crockery for the restaurant, people were always asking where it was from, so I started sourcing pieces directly for customers,” says Kamil. “It made me realise there was a missing shop and opportunity in Leeds and Yorkshire that wasn’t mass production, old fashioned and British.”
Fast forward to today, North Home is off to a flying start and Kamil is looking forward to doing some more private design work, working with people to help with their interior design issues. When it comes to his own design ethos, how would he sum it up? Although he prefers not to refer to trend-led names such as Japandi (a combination of Japanese and Scandi design), he’s clear that this is where his influences and design style come from. Instead, he believes that Nordic design covers all of this.
North Home, designed by Kamil himself, really epitomises this, and the minimalistic influences of Japanese culture and style shine through amongst the curated Nordic designs and products. Asking about what some of the main elements of Nordic design are, Kamil is quick to tell me that a lot of it comes down to feelings and emotions. That is, a huge part of the Scandinavian design ethos is about what feelings the interiors can evoke through their design. “It’s more about the thought behind the products in Scandinavia and about the simplicity of beautiful things,” explains Kamil. “There’s a less is more idea in both Japanese and Scandinavian design. It’s all about the cosiness you can evoke, too. Because it’s cold outside, in Nordic design you put lights on the windowsills to create a feeling of warmth inside and to bring the light in from outside. It looks amazing and inviting from outside, too. We don’t do this in Britain, so I try to tell people about this concept. The Scandinavian design ethos is about bringing feelings of positivity into the space with candles and scents, so they often have candles outside in Nordic countries to bring the men home from sea, and to bring the positive energy home. With designing, it makes me happy to see people happy from how design can make them feel.”
But it’s also about the conscious, waste-free element of design for Kamil, and he really does live by the motto his gran taught him. “My love for design really came from my gran, and the way that she chose stuff for her house so that everything had value,” smiles Kamil. “It made me realise that everything has to have a thought behind the buying of it, which is better for the planet, too. I love buying stuff, but I hate waste and always make sure something is timeless and going to last.”
Kamil is incredibly detail orientated, and it comes across in every aspect of his design work, presentation and life. It’s perhaps not surprising, coming from a man who has completed three different Masters degrees – getting to the nitty gritty of a subject, pulling out the inner detail and seeing the nuance in everything is central to his work. “With the design of Fint and North Home, I thought about what the customer would see and feel in every corner of the space,” says Kamil. “The details are really important in design so the lines of the shelves all match with the lines of the display tables and the staircase and windows.”
Considering so much of his inspiration comes from Scandinavia and Japan, I can’t help but wonder how Kamil ended up in Yorkshire and if he’s inspired by the county around him. “Oh, absolutely!” he beams. “The greenery and the access to the landscape and countryside is amazing. The colour of the green is absolutely amazing in Yorkshire – I read somewhere about the angle of the sun being different here, so it makes everything greener. One of the reasons I wanted to move here was the easy access to nature.”
So, what trends does Kamil see emerging this autumn and winter in the Nordic design world? “It’s about shouty and screaming colours. Last year it was all about natural green, but this year there’s a lot of screaming pink, and a really bright colour,” he says. “I think it will show up in subtle house designs with a bright pink feature, maybe a cushion or some art. We need some joy after the last few years, and I think this season is about colour pops bringing joy to our lives.”