Adam Frampton & Karolina Czeczek
“As a young Architect, it's important to have a manifesto about the city where you live.”
In February, we had dinner with Adam Frampton and Karolina Czeczek from the office of Only-If, a New York City based design practice for architecture and urbanism. Their practice engages in projects ranging from interiors to housing to larger-scale urban design, research, and speculation. Their practice was chosen for the AIA New York Emerging Practice Award and they were featured in PIN-UP Magazines as part of the “New Power Generation.” In March of 2018, Only-If was listed as one of the top 50 interior architects and designer by Architect Newspaper.
This dinner took place at their office space in the Garment District, a bright white space with windows over looking the busy Manhattan tree and a cluster of white desks in the center, all facing each other with large monitors. The walls were covered in collages, beautifully laid out project material pallets, drawings and images of their work. A tall, metal library stacked with books, resources and architectural manuals lined one of the walls and towards the back of the office was a door to a tiny model shop, stocked with unusual and colorful materials.
Before the dinner started, guests mingled and explored their studio space, and lab room, while getting a closeup look of the amazing and colorful models on display around the studio.
We pushed a few of the tables together and 15 of us gathered around like we were setting up for an office meeting except it was Saturday night and instead of drawings on the table, there were pierogies, beers and polish vodka. (the pierogies were from the famous Baba’s Pierogies in Brooklyn)
Adam is from Washington DC and Karolina is from Krosno in Poland. They met while working at OMA. At the dinner, they talked about their life from student years to their time working at OMA in both Rotterdam and Hong Kong. In 2013 they moved to New York, found a space, set up a website, emailed 1000 people and officially declared that ONLY IF was open for business. At the dinner they talked about the ups and downs of learning how to start a design office in an such an expensive and fast paced city. We discussed their teaching careers and the importance of having good mentors and friends that helped them find their stride.
We talked about their work including their Irregular Developments project and exhibition which focuses on identifying and cataloging irregular and vacant properties throughout New York City. Because of a combination of their atypical dimensions, and various zoning regulations, these properties remain unused. With a unique design approach, Irregular Developments demonstrates the feasibility and the potential of these vacant sites through speculative housing prototypes.
For dessert were delighted to enjoy a special shipment of COOLHAUS ice cream sammies. Coolhaus is a super cool Ice Cream startup based in LA run by Natasha Case and Freya Estreller. With mutual backgrounds in the design and real estate fields, they began naming their ice cream sandwiches after architects and architectural movements that inspired them. Their branding was the perfect fit at this dinner since Adam and Karolina met while working for Rem Koolhaas.