Meet the Artist; an interview with Alicia Zimnickas, by Claire McMahon-Lee
Cambridge Open Studios brings members of the public into artists studios. It is a great opportunity to for them to pop into the workshops of some of the artists, craftspeople and designer-makers working throughout Cambridgeshire and to see their exhibitions. The artists open their studios to people so that they can see something they don’t see every day. It gives the chance for artists to show their work to the community, whether it be sculpture, jewellery making, glass making or painting. The Open Studios, which run each July every year, provide a wonderful opportunity to for people looking to buy art. You can find you perfect piece without the gallery fees and you can meet the artists that produce the work, it adds meaning to the art that you are buying because you find out what inspires them, you learn about what techniques they use and the process behind creating the work.
There are a whole range of artists of all ages, some are more experienced, some are new. They open up their workshops for the weekends during the month of July. They are based all over Cambridge, just look for the Cambridge Open Studios yellow sign and you will find one close by to you when you are travelling around Cambridge.
One of the artists taking part is Alicia Zimnickas. She began exhibiting her paintings in her own exhibitions the early 1990’s and has shown her work on numerous countries including Canada, UK, France, Sweden, Poland and Lithuania. Her paintings can be found throughout the world in private collections, prestigious hotels (including the Marriott and the Hilton), and on the walls of various companies, such as Novartis, Mastercard, Allianz, the Lithuanian Embassy in Poland and the Presidential Palace in Lithuania. She is also an Interior Designer and runs her own business in Cambridge, she has been running this for 4 years. If you would like to look at her website it is www.az-interiors.co.uk.
I interviewed Alicia to find out what makes her tick when creating her work and she answered me these questions.
Your paintings involve nature, the seasons and how they inspire you. When did you first experience this inspiration and what influenced you to paint topics of nature?
Its nothing really new because I have always been inspired by nature, and this is not something that has appeared recently in my paintings. I look at nature more as a fragmented bit and then put it on a canvas through my filter, just a fragmented part of nature, maybe reeds or leaves or trees. I was thinking by myself once why does nature always hold me or grab me? It ignites something in me. I was trying to find an answer to this very question and then I thought; “its probably because of the place where I used to spend my childhood” which is quite a rural area full of greenery, forests, lakes. It’s in Poland, near the Lithuanian border, where I spent my childhood. It’s one of the first things I experienced in my life. Nature is important to me, but also in a way; light. Because the same tree in a different light is completely transformed, I want to catch that light form. I am an artist who likes to paint light. Nature is the starting point, but light is also my subject. I can put on the canvas the atmosphere that the light provides, its not just putting a tree on a canvas but showing that the sun is shining, or that it’s the evening, you can see what time of day it is, it sets the atmosphere.
How do you use colour, is it to evoke particular atmospheres when looking at nature?
I do it automatically, I know when to use a colour to make it look calming but I don’t have to think about it too much. I don’t look, see something then paint it, I collect those memories of the scene I have looked at as visual images, or I take photos, or I travel somewhere different and collect more colours to paint. The paintings are all about atmosphere, they are very impressionist.
How did you feel letting people into your house to see your work during the open studios? Is it difficult to show your work at that level because sometimes it can be such a personal thing when you put your all into your work?
For me this is very natural and I think, in a way, I need to show my work. This makes sense. I like to hear peoples opinions, it motivates me. Letting people into my house I don’t have a problem with. As also I use my house as my work studio, so I do sometimes have clients and coming to see my work so my mentality is that it’s an open house. I think in general I am a hospitable studio, for instance I run a little café so when people and friends turn up I can make them a coffee. I almost think sometimes it’s the other way round, it’s not difficult for me nut it’s more difficult for members of the public. They can find it difficult going into other peoples houses.
What opportunities do you think Cambridge Open Studios gives to people?
First of all, access to the artists studios and home, and I think artists always have very interesting homes. Meeting the artists so you can understand the work much better. But also, from the artists point of view, you have amazing visitors come and you have some amazing conversations and you bond with the people. Some people come every year and they see new things I have done since their last visit. If those regular people didn’t come I would be thinking to myself “Hmm I wonder where they are? I wonder why they didn’t come?”
When you crate art does the subject dictate what you paint or is there a concept you think of first and before you paint?
There is always a concept first, it would be even some sketches beforehand, or something like a photo. Maybe some colour samples to see what colour to paint, but then I have a vision and an idea before I touch the canvas, but then it’s a question of whether I will get that effect that I want once I start. Maybe not? I may not be very happy about that but, anyway, there is always a concept, yes. It gives a structure to what you want to achieve. It also depends on the day I am having and on the mood I am in as to how the final result turns out. Although I can only paint in a good mood!
How do you feel when you paint?
I love it. I find that everything around me disappears, I get so involved, I have to set an alarm when I paint, if I have to go and pick up the kids, because I get completely involved. My ordinary day has so many constraints, in art I am free.
What would you call your style?
I always really struggle with that, I think it’s some kind of impressionist style, but I can’t say. It’s any kind of landscape that I paint. They are not realistic but not abstract. I don’t have the answer to that I’m afraid.
What is your best work?
There are some paintings I feel that there are some best pieces chosen by the members of the public during open studio, there are two pieces, they got the most votes. They are; ‘The Pine Forest’ this was sold and now has a lovely new home in Cambridge. ‘Up to the Sky’ that was the second favourite and is awaiting to be exhibited in London in October.
Painting on the left: ‘The Pine Forest’, on the right: ‘Up to the Sky’
Do other artists inspire you?
Of course, probably the list of who influences me changes sometimes, its not always the same artists that inspires me, but probably if I had to choose a top three it would be William Turner, he was a genius with how he painted light. Then David Hockney inspires me to feel more brave about using bright colours, and I was very touched seeing his retrospective exhibition in the Tate Britain a few months ago. And the third one is a Lithuanian artist called Ciurlionis. I put him in third place because I don’t look back that much but he was the first artists who I used to go and see in the museum on a regular basis as a child. He definitely had a lot of influence on me. Again; I love how he paints light and how he shows it.
There is a fantastic opportunity to join me, Alicia Zimnickas for a Interior Design course. The intention of the interior design course is to impart my extensive advice and knowledge to a design thirsty group to help you to design and style your home. Its designed as a fun and creative workshops - with groups no larger than 7 people, so we all have a chance to meet and mingle and share ideas. I like to think its a great way to learn more about interior design for everyone, no matter where you are in your design journey.
I will share my expertise how to create unique looks and colour schemes for any room and I’m particularly interested in how we can make our homes a true reflection of our own individuality through use of colour, furnishings and collections. I will tell you about design process. Rather than dictating what is good or bad taste I prefer to help you discover how to find your own sense of style in order to achieve an exclusive look. I will highlight the necessity of good spatial planning, teach you how to work with scale and how to manage a budget. To help this process I'm happy to offer access to my library of materials and finishes as well as guidance on how to put the designs on to paper.
More information about courses on www.az-interiors.co.uk/courses
Whilst some clients want a complete overhaul of their home, there are also some who want something a little simpler in its style. Or they are looking for a refresh that still keeps elements of the home as it already is.
This particular client is a fine example of this. They came to us asking for a new look in their one bedroom apartment, yet they wanted it to include some of their existing furniture. Such as chairs, the sofa, the coffee table and the dining room table.
They created a brief for us to follow when designing their home. They wanted it to be lighter, have plenty of wow factor and also have a cosy and comfortable atmosphere. Something that we were sure that we would be able to do for them.
The living room
We started off by creating a focal point of the room, this came in the form of pendant light. Not only does it offer up a great level of light, but with its original shape, it is also a funky and fresh addition to the space.
Our attention then turned to the walls, with one main wall being covered in distressed, yet top quality brick. Distressed brick is a great material to work with. Not only is it a great way to add character to the space, but it also makes it feel and look warmer too. Just what you will want in an apartment.
Once these main points were put in place, we looked at the joinery, fighting and other textures in order to create the finished look. We knew that the right way to head was with warm, yet neutral accessories, as this would not only work with the space, but also any existing features that it already had.
We installed a warm and neutral rug, completely original acrylic paintings (created by Alicia Zimnickas from AZ Interiors) and an utterly fabulous and stylish mirror.
Our brief also covered the kitchen. We decided that this particular kitchen space would really benefit from a made to measure touch, which we arranged via a local joinery company.
Some apartment spaces really benefit from having a fluid style. Which is why we chose floor tiles that would work perfectly with the parquet floor that was originally installed into the living room, as well as the light in colour kitchen furniture.
Finally, we took a look at the bedroom. One of the most important rooms in any home. We wanted to create a contrast in this particular room, so to do this we used white, build in wardrobes alongside a navy wall colour. Not only did this create a beautiful look, but it also created the perfect flow between the bedroom and living room.
Here at AZ Interiors, we love taking on a variety of home projects. We want to make sure that our clients have the homes that they are searching for, a warm, stylish and inviting place, that they can call their own!
Seeing as you spend so much time there, the way that your home looks (and feels) is important. This is why so many people turn to interior design companies to help them. With the importance of interior design, it comes as no surprise that people will want to know how to choose the right interior designer. Someone who will be able to bring their experience and skilled eye for creating amazing spaces right into the heart of your home.
Want to know how to choose the right interior designer for your home project? Well, read on and find out what to look out for when finding which one is right for you.
They will have the right contacts
Using a professional interior design company means that you will have access to a wide range of products and tools that you may not have if you redesigned your home yourself. They will also have a network of trusted businesses such as decorators and electricians that are going to be perfect for the job.
They will understand what you need for your home
Not only is an interior designer creative when thinking about how a room will look, they should also be able to think about how it will function too. There is no point having a home that doesn’t work with your lifestyle or family, and therefore a good quality designer will take the time to learn more about the things that you need.
They make you feel comfortable
An interior designer is responsible for making sure that your home looks just the way you want it. You are placing a lot of trust in what they can do, so it is important that you feel comfortable talking to them and giving them access to your home.
They are happy to work with you to create something perfect
Whilst an interior designer may have a vision of how they think your home should look, this shouldn’t be their main focus, in fact, they should be able to recognise that you are the driving force behind the design, and that you will be the one making the bulk of the decisions. Chances are that you will want their advice on what to go for, after all, they are the experts.
You will want to know that they can do a good job
Recommendations are vital for a variety of different businesses, this includes interior designer companies. See if you can find out customers that have already used their service and find out if they have testimonials from there. This is a great way to have a word of mouth recommendation on what they are going to be able to offer you.
If you think that you would benefit from a professional interior designer, then why not take a look at the best interior designers in Cambridge? With the right expertise and knowledge, you are sure to find the ideal Cambridge based interior designer to match your particular needs.
Alicja Zimnickas at AZ Interiors (www.zimnickas.com) has been working her magic on some of our favourite Cambridgeshire restaurants. We caught up with the designer to see how we can make our home look like it was styled by a professional…
What inspired you to become an interior designer?
I always loved living in nice spaces. When my eyes can rest - I can rest and that’s how my story as an interior designer really starts. I’ve always been very creative. What do you love most about interior design? I love that every project is different. Creative people can get bored very easily, and that keeps me going. I like working in the office and working on technical drawing and concepts but I love to project manage an interior project; shopping for the furniture and fittings and going to design shows to keep me up-to-date on the new trends. The most exciting thing about my job is to see the final result of my interior project, incredible space transformations and making my clients lives happier.
Where do YOU get your inspiration from for a design project?
For me light is very important, probably the most important. When the lighting is right, both natural and artificial in the space, everything looks much better. I like elegant simplicity, contemporary interiors but full of warmth by adding the right decorations. I bring my inspiration for art and interiors from traveling. I like Italian sleek design matching with oriental elements.
You recently designed the High Tea Club on Mill Road, tell us about the concept:
The brief was to create the interiors to serve for all purposes: tea room during the day and cocktail bar in the evening. That was a real interior design challenge but as I like challenges I was very happy to take the project. I took inspiration from Victorian tea rooms, cast iron metal work but presented in a 21st century way, using current technology.
What interior trends can we expect in 2016?
I would name a big come back of very vital, playful colours. With bright colours in interiors we have to be careful with proportions to not overdo. I would suggest adding bright colour with accessories. Copper and brass materials are on-trend this season and work perfectly to add some glamour to interiors. This year we will see a lot of natural materials; coatings of cork and marble are coming back strongly. Wood, stone and raw concrete are also here with their timeless presence.
What advice would you give readers thinking of re-decorating their home?
If you’ve just moved into a new house, take your time; live for a while to understand the new space and what you need. Live and function in a new property, and just after a month or so start redesign and redecoration projects. This way you will avoid costly mistakes.
What are the major do’s and don’ts of home interiors?
Organise your lighting; think about the sorts of different lighting to create the right atmosphere. One cheap hanging paper light shade is not an option! Invest in one good piece. It can be a great statement art piece or lovely piece of furniture. Don’t be afraid to inject personality with a statement piece. Be brave! Don’t hang artwork too high. Artwork should be hung at about eye-level.
Don’t buy just because it’s cheap. Buy it cheap, buy it twice! It’s better to spend a bit more on new floor, wall paint, better quality furniture and you’ll save on the labour. It will last for much longer. My best design tip is before you start on renovation, think about storage!
Many of us think that interior design is easy. A simple case of choosing colours and fabrics for your home. This is isn’t particularly true, in fact successful interior design takes a keen eye.
Whilst there are plenty of things in stores that you may see and love, they may not necessarily fit in with the rest of your home.
A professional interior designers knows how to look at colour, lighting, room size, scale and placement, all to make sure that a room looks as beautiful as it can.
This blog is going to look at the biggest interior design mistakes that people can make and how you can fix them.
Not using scale
A common mistake is using things that are all the same scale in one room. You may think that a small sofa, a small table and a small lamp is going to look great, but a great way to add interest to the space is to use scale.
Think of a city landscape, all the different heights and shapes. This creates texture and something great to look at. Avoiding your room ending up like one hot mess!
Stuffing a room
Scale is also important when it comes to larger items. Placing too many large and bulky items in one room can lead to looking stuffed and even smaller than it is. Mixing up different sizes means that a room won’t be too packed.
Making rash purchases
We all know the feeling of seeing something that we just need to buy there and then. Whilst this may work with clothes or other purchases, with furniture and homewares, this may not be the right approach to take.
You need to plan in enough time to make sure that the accessory works perfectly within the room. Not only the style, but the colour and size too.
If you see something that you really want, head home and see if you think it will work. Chances are that it will be there later, or you can order it online.
Not making a focal point
Every single room needs a focal point, it is a place that the eye rests and assigns the room a function. A larger space can have more than one focal point, but the vital thing to remember is that every room should have at least one.
This could be something as simple as the TV on a TV unit, or perhaps a rather impressive dining room table, or a large piece of wall art that draws attention to a feature wall.
Keeping things that you don’t particularly like
We all love getting gifts, or things being passed down to us from people that we care about. But sometimes these objects become a bit of a guilt trip and we end up hanging onto things that are not particularly our style.
Don’t feel that you have to keep these guilty objects. Instead, find a new purpose for it. Perhaps passing it along to someone who will get the use out of it!
These are just some of the things that you can do to make sure that a home is as perfect as you want it to be.
Ultimately, it should be a reflection of your personality and your own personal sense of style.
ALICIA ZIMNICKAS IS ONE OF THE MANY TALENTED DESIGNERS AND ARTISTS TAKING PART IN JULY CAMBRIDGE OPEN STUDIOS. ALICIA WILL OPEN HER STUDIO TO PUBLIC ON 1st, 2nd AND 3rd JULY WEEKENDS. SHE WILL BE SHOWING HER FULL OF LIGHT PAINTINGS AND SOME INTERIOR
Alicia's studio is located in Trumpington, Cambridge. She will open her studio doors to all visitors July weekends this year:
I weekend : 1st July - Saturday and 2nd July - Sunday
II weekend : 8th July - Saturday and 9th July - Sunday
III weekend : 15th July - Saturday and 16th July - Sunday
Alicia's Zimnickas CAMBRIDGE OPEN STUDIO address is:
4 Winchmore Drive, CB2 9LW Trumpington, Cambridge
When visitors first enter your home, what is the thing that greets them? Your entrance hall is the first area of your home that anyone gets to see, and is vital for making a good first impression. Not only this, but a beautifully designed entrance hall can also make a huge style statement too.
As a Cambridge based interior designer, I love nothing more than transforming people’s homes and making them something that they are proud to live in.
I was recently asked to undertake an entrance hall project for a customer who wanted to create a welcoming and stylish space. I opted for a light and polished stone floor as I knew that this would reflect all of the light that shone into the hall, making it appear all the bigger. This was also combined with traditional Victorian tiles in black and white.
For the walls, we went for a bold stripe wallpaper made by Nobilis, making sure that it was matched by stunning console wall lights and an extra stylish round mirror by Porta Romana.
The overall look that we aimed for with this particular home was one of luxury and high end, with a welcoming atmosphere that flowed through the rest of the house.
But what about for your own home? I have put together some top tips on how I think you can make a statement in your entrance hall.
Hallway interior design by Alicia Zimnickas
A different take on the feature wall
Do you have a rather impressive collection of hats? Perhaps handbags are your bag. Why not use your hallway as a space to display them? Often hallways are long and narrow, which means that a feature wall can have plenty of room to make an impression.
Rather than using art or colour. You could create your feature wall by popping some hooks in the wall and displaying your very own personal collection!
Use mirrors to create an illusion
How often do you see mirrors in hallways? Not only are they great to check how you look before you leave, but they also make a space appear bigger and lighter. This is because a mirror will reflect any light that shines on it, giving the illusion of a bigger room.
Hallway interior design by Alicia Zimnickas
Bigger is better
If you are blessed with a slightly larger entrance space in your home, why not make the most of it with a large cabinet, bench or table. Not only is this great for storing things, or sitting down to put on your shoes, but you can also use it to display items such as flowers or lamps, brightening up and giving colour to the space.
Think it is time to give your home a makeover, why not get in touch with me? I am an expert interior designer based in Cambridge and I love taking on home makeover projects that give my clients the rooms that they crave. Whether an entrance hall, living room or a bedroom, I am on hand to help you create a space that you are proud to live in.
We’re here to help you achieve your home goals.
Whether you are decorating, accessorising, renovating or planning to sell, we provide a bespoke personal interior design and styling service that will help you pull a look together and express yourself in your home or ready your home should you be selling. We’ll guide you through the entire design or decorating process, from mood and concept boards to space plans and furniture selections, through to styling the space.
Read more about it here. Here’s a few of our favorite interior design projects from last year.
How to have a small wonderful Indian home in 14 Karm!
Homify India by SUCHETA MEHRA, 31 May, 2016
If you wonder how families can live in living spaces as small as 30 or 40 square meters, remember that in Japan, where space is at premium, this would be considered as a luxury. In third world countries entire families live in a room that is not more than 10 square meters in area. 40 square meters, in comparison to Japan or Asia, is generous. It can appear even more roomy and spacious by smart use of space. Most people are used to viewing space in two dimensions: length and width. By considering the vertical dimension too, you can optimize use of space and pack in a lot more without the interior seeming crowded and cluttered. Here we show you how you can make use of the right materials and make the right use of space that will help a family live in comfort in a space as small as 40 square meters and never feel uncomfortable.
Use the walls effectively
Using the walls in a small apartment makes the interiors look roomy and spacious. Make sure your walls are white or a light shade of tan, ivory or beige. Use white for the furniture. If it is wooden furniture, lacquer them or paint the wood in a white shade. Pure white may seem dazzling so ivory is just perfect. Of course, if you are using stainless steel furniture it will also look trim and slim, enhancing as well as optimizing spaces. Glass complements steel and gives a modern look to compact living spaces.
Your apartment or house probably has some open space in the shape of a veranda or a balcony in the front or some open space at the back. Consider ways to cover this open space in your balcony and use it as a sleeping or study area for a family member, possibly your teenage son. Open space at the back can have a simple overhead cover. You can store less used items in a cupboard under this covered space at the back.
Look around in your house. There is plenty of open space. Any space above head height can be considered open space. You can line walls with cupboards running the entire length of the wall above head height.
You can create a temporary loft with a pull down staircase. The loft can serve as sleeping quarters. Or better still; create a mezzanine floor if the ceiling of your house is high enough. The extended balcony space shown in the picture above has been designed by Leivars, interior designers and decorators from UK.
A loft can partition vertical space but, it also gives a rather closed look. A mezzanine floor extends only part way across the room and lets it retain the open look. Wood is certainly a good material for homes but it needs to be thick to have strength. Stainless steel tubing can be thin yet it is strong enough to support weight. Besides, the gleaming or dull finished stainless finish adds to the décor, especially when married with glass. The floor of the mezzanine partition can be hollow PVC profiles or wood. Curtaining off the mezzanine portion can transform the portion into a cosy bedroom that a family member can retire to when others are busy working or studying in the regular space below.
Making maximum use of natural light gives a cheerful, open impression to your interiors. For instance, when you build a mezzanine floor, build it across the room facing the window or along side one wall but never across the wall that has the window. If you must use curtains, then use a pair. One could be the light gauze type curtains that lets in plenty of light. Heavier drapes are the other option, allowing you completely shut out light when required. Enhance the natural light by the use of light colored vitreous mirror tiling on the floor. The reflections create interesting light and shadow patterns in the room. If you are partitioning off the balcony or the verandah, do so using steel channels and translucent glass or translucent fiberglass, possibly with bold colours. It will have the look of stained glass and will create a wonderful colourful lit area inside with a charm, perfectly offsetting the use of white for furniture.
Glass in the interiors
You would have selected folding furniture to maximize use of space. In that case, glass for use as table top does require some care in design and execution but the effect is just magnificent. Glass and metal are made for each other. It is easy to get fabricated metal folding table frame with an arrangement to hold the glass securely. However, glass plays a more important role elsewhere and that is in the shelves. You could have wooden shelves but making more use of glass endows living spaces with a transparent, open look. Besides, you can use thinner glass. Where you would use 15 mm of wood, just 8 mm of glass is sufficient. Fixtures for glass are also available in a slim, trim contour. Your kitchen and living room can do with a couple of glass shelves that will look absolutely gorgeous and add to the feeling of space inside.
40 square meters may not seem much but, if you make use of your mind to create and optimise spaces, you will find that it is sufficient for a family. Here's an architecture ideabook you wouldn't like to miss : A sublime modern family home!
I’m Alicia Zimnickas founder of AZ INTERIORS. I'm interior designer and artist. On AZ INTERIORS blog, I share decorating ideas, interesting and inspiring interiors, interior design trends, beautiful objects and places - those worth mentioning. Welcome to my creative world.