Finishing Touch: Handled With Care
- Dwell, 09/01/2009

Before moving with his parents from Warsaw to Paris at age 16, Krzystof Kwiecinski often visited his grandmother in her 800-square-foot apartment. Shortly after her death in 2005, then 25-year-old Kwiecinski returned to Poland and moved into her home, which was filled with a hodgepodge of wooden furniture accumulated since the late 1940s, when his great-grandparents moved into the apartment. Though Kwiecinski wanted to modernize the space, he "didn't want the old life of the apartment to disappear completely."

With Warsaw architecture firm Centrala, Kwiecinski arrived at a compromise. Together, they dismantled the apartment's old doors, tables, bookshelves, and chairs, and used them to build a 12-by-10-foot freestanding unit – dubbed the Hardbox – that contains a kitchen, toilet, shower, bathtub, and fold-out guest bed. The rules: No panel could be the same color or shape, nor could they alter design details like moldings or keyholes. Even the doorpost lined with faded pencil marks tracking Kwiecinski's height as a growing boy was incorporated into the piece.

In a world where things that should be saved are all too often lost, and those that should be replaced aren't, the Hardbox strikes an admirable balance of sentiment and modernity.