Carpentry is more than a profession to Anna Olszewska. It’s a way of being. To her, it’s ‘sentimental’. Born into a family of craftsmen, in a way, Olszewska was destined to work with her hands. Following an education in literature and a career as a photographer, she shifted gears during the pandemic. Fuelled by creativity and a love of vintage furniture, Olszewska, under the guidance of her father, started renovating her pieces.
Lucy Siddall: What made you decide to retrain as a carpenter?
Anna Olszewska: Everything changed in 2020. It was lockdown, and unable to go on photoshoots, I suddenly had all the time in the world. My dad is a carpenter, and I’d always said if I wasn’t a photographer, I’d be a carpenter. It is a very meaningful job for me. Once I’d decided, I approached my dad and bought a few chairs, leading me to where I am now.
I always said if I wasn’t a photographer, I’d be
a carpenter. It is a very meaningful job for me.
LS: Did your father teach you how to restore furniture?
AO: Yes, I told him I wanted to learn and asked him if he’d show me. Since then, he has taught me a lot, for example, how to take furniture apart and, without causing damage, remove varnish. He’s a trained carpenter, though he’s not trained in restoration, so we also learn new techniques as a pair.
LS: What’s your earliest memory of coming into contact with vintage furniture?
AO: In my childhood, we lived in the village my mum grew up in, and our house was full of beautiful, interesting pieces. Unfortunately, we had to sell the house for financial reasons in the nineties. We moved to a small apartment in the city and had to leave all these incredible items behind. At the time, it was just furniture, a wardrobe or a cabinet, but I’ve since realised they were amazing Art Deco pieces.