Earlier this year, Warsaw design studio Thisispaper opened the doors on its stunning, tranquil new studio and storefront. Like their blog, print magazine, and handcrafted bags, Thisispaper’s brick and mortar is anchored in a reverence for quiet, pristine simplicity. The story behind the space started simply enough: looking to expand their office, founders Zuzanna Gasior and Alexander Zaharov stumbled upon this light-filled former dentist’s office in the Mokotów district. Without much hesitation, they quickly got to work turning it into the workspace and storefront of their dreams.
The shop, which beautifully mirrors the company’s calming, minimalist aesthetic, now houses Thisispaper’s growing line of leather and cotton bags and backpacks, as well as printed items. There’s also a small tea shop, which serves earthy organic Japanese teas and freshly baked treats. In the coming months, Thisispaper will also be expanding their event calendar, with the hopes of providing a hub for Warsaw’s growing creative community. Below, Zuzanna shares the story behind the shop, as well as some of the things inspiring her in and around the city.
What prompted you to want to open the brick and mortar space?
From the beginning of Thisispaper, we didn’t set high requirements—especially at the start, when we didn’t know who our consumer or reader was, or if we even had any. But the story of the shop is quite simple. Our previous space was an apartment cluttered with machines and furniture. As the months passed by it became smaller and smaller. We could barely fit our team in there, so the need was growing. We thought that just finding a bigger flat wouldn’t make much sense, so we said to ourselves, if we need something bigger, we should look into the future. There was an idea to open Thisipaper up a bit more to our audience. As you may know, running an online blog can make you pretty recognizable to other parts of the globe, but totally anonymous to your neighbours. Out of nowhere we found this beautiful spacious place, just a few streets away from our apartment. It seemed to be perfectly tailored to our needs. The space we found used to be a dental clinic dating back to the Soviet era. We transformed this 140 square meter space with four large windows into the new home of Thisispaper.
The shop’s aesthetic seems very much aligned with the studio’s. How did you approach bringing the spirit of the brand into a physical space?
Our approach was quite simple. We have firmly defined the aesthetic of Thisispaper, so it was a clear task and we were very determined from the beginning. We did our best to simplify things, so some of the decisions were done automatically, such as the all-white interior and the concrete floor covered with transparent resin. We wanted to create a place which puts us and our customers in a peaceful state of mind.
What appeals to you about the culture and practice surrounding tea?
This may sound trivial, but we were mostly captivated by the simplicity of its actions and gestures. While preparing and brewing tea, for the moment, time slows down. You have to be focused and actually make an effort to practice the process. It might seem like an easy activity for a laymen, but the devil is in the details. We had to be patient and devote time to fully understanding the art of tea brewing. But above all, our main aim is to have the pleasure of serving truly good tea to our customers.
How important was it to make Thisispaper’s shop feel like a gathering space for your local community?
It is highly important to us, although it is a process that requires a lot of time. Thisispaper shop is a very fresh initiative in the Mokotów district. We have to give it more time to earn the trust of our visitors. There are certain plans for social activities of the shop. Our true desire is to make this place alive and inviting, however this is just a beginning of our road and it’s very hard to predict what the final result will be. We already have the first events scheduled for the coming months, so please keep your fingers crossed.
As designers, editors, and now shop owners, how does Warsaw influence you?
Warsaw is a city full of contrasts with some beautiful moments. On the one hand, it’s full of peace and muses, but on the other there’s a lot of noise and chaos, which can easily overwhelm you. I cannot say whether it has a direct impact or not. However, somewhere deep inside, it evidently engraved a certain figure in us. It definitely drives us to act. It is the capital, and surely as every other capital city there is a concentration of active artists, photographers, designers, etc., and it’s been truly interesting to find ourselves among this group. Still, to understand Warsaw, you have to be aware of its story. In the years just after the second World War, the city was almost completely destroyed, and in its first decades under the complete influence of communism it went through a huge reconstruction—everything was built up literally from the ashes.The political system restricted the lives of citizens. There was no private sector and the economy was based on terms of illusive equality. The driver of change was the working class. It was just during the ‘90s, shortly after the collapse of communism, that the “freedom era” appeared, the free market arose, and suddenly all those rebellious artists finally got a chance to act and create autonomously without any party’s repression and persecution. It was a turning point in history and the first time we could actually observe the creative scene and its formation. To fully perceive it, it’s very important to understand that it is still a young field and does not work in overwhelming range. I am aware that in NY or London it’s much more developed, but perhaps this feeling of being “underdeveloped and insatiable” makes us feel that there is still so much to do. Warsaw’s lack is motivating and stimulates us to act.
What are some of the bigger challenges of running a design studio, a publication, and a storefront?
Having free time. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is. There is a lot of work and so many new ideas for Thisispaper. We created it together with Alexander from scratch, supported by our talented team. All in all, we are just a small company and the biggest challenge is to stay patient and persistent in pursuing our goals. And we are both very stubborn.
What are some of the greatest rewards?
Without any doubt, it’s definitely about the feedback we receive from our customers. We truly cherish those pure and authentic reactions, which are surely honest and we can learn from them a lot.
Finally, what are some people/projects/things that are inspiring you currently?
I’ve noticed that the most inspiring are journeys. I know it may sound banal, but it’s always the most important time for us, especially when it’s away from the online world. Then our brains can be genuinely recharged. I think it’s crucial to gain the “tabula rasa” state of mind from time to time.