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Lukas Lewandowski x Closed Lukas Lewandowski x Closed

Close up w/ Lukas Lewandowski

If you’re up for adding a splash more colour to your daily grind, give your smartphone a flick and dive into Lukas Lewandowski’s Instagram feed. The Polish-born art director and hotelier is all about serving up a visual fiesta, such as vibrant table setups boasting mouthwatering food or dreamy pictures from Italy. If you’re keen to experience this moodboard in the real world, head over to Lukas’ delightful Casa Lawa guesthouse, nestled in sunny Sicily. That’s exactly where we caught up with him for a chat. We delved into what it’s like being a host, his passion for all things delicious, and the dance of life between Sicily and his other home base in Amsterdam. And, of course, he shared a few insider tips from Sicily!

Lukas Lewandowski x Closed

“I love to absorb the world, making notes, taking pictures, and talking to people.”

The
interview

To start off for those who may not be familiar with you, could you tell us about your journey, Lukas?

I’m Lukas, born in Poland, and I’ve lived many different lives before establishing Casa Lawa. I used to work in fashion, ran a vintage store, worked as a bouncer for a couple of years, ran an art gallery in Amsterdam, and since my teens, I have hosted many dinner parties. When the pandemic came, I really dived into cooking and realized how much I love to whip up stuff in the kitchen. I call myself a maker, and I’m navigating within the realm of fashion, design, food, and lifestyle, where the colours are always a common thread.

How did the idea for Casa Lawa come about, and what do you find most appealing about it?

I used to Airbnb my apartment in Amsterdam and enjoyed hosting people, preparing the house, putting on crisp bedsheets, making sure the space looks cozy. I collected business cards from local businesses, restaurants, places to visit, and made a book for my guests. It was a great experience and apparently the beginning of something bigger without even realising it then. During the pandemic, my partner and I yearned for a bigger space, a connection with nature, a place to try out our ideas, a place where everything is possible. This is what Casa Lawa became for me – a space fostering opportunities for dialogue and exciting new impulses. It provides a dynamic and unique stay that is shaped by those who visit.

Was it a challenge to find the perfect property in Sicily?

In 2016, we visited Etna for the first time and fell in love. The impact of the snowy mountain and the sea on the same day was incredible. In June 2021, we visited Sicily, met inspirational people, and realized the island had something special. We started looking for properties, and after meeting a winemaker, Davide, who mentioned his dream house was for sale, we saw the 200-year-old house and 4 hectares of fruit trees, and we didn’t want to see any other houses. The process of buying was not too complicated, but the renovation and Sicilian bureaucracy were challenging. But it was worth it!

Your Casa Lawa embodies a vibrant, fun, and seemingly endless summer aesthetic. What inspired you to create this artistic style and how do you maintain it?

People are my biggest inspiration. I was always a very curious child, and now I am a curious adult man. I love to absorb the world, making notes, taking pictures, and talking to people. Living in different places and learning languages enabled me to understand more cultures. This gives me the freedom to create and be confident about it. I listen to my own intuition and trust my instincts without overwhelmingly looking at trends. Being open to new ideas and interacting with other creative minds helps maintain your creative flow.

The kitchen and the act of cooking play a significant role at Casa Lawa. Could you tell us about your passion for cooking and how it became a central part of your place?

As a child, I loved to sneak into the kitchen, help my mom, and experiment with food. Opening this season at Casa Lawa, I decided that food would be a central part of our project. I invited people from all over the world for a food residency to see how they approach the same ingredients and turn them into beautiful dishes. Every day became like an exhibition, a performance in the kitchen, with people whipping up butter, frying sizzling eggs, making beautiful fruit plates, and creating a poetic atmosphere.

Your culinary creations often resemble works of art. How do you infuse everyday cooking with creativity and a special touch?

Experimenting with food, every dinner or meeting I organize has something extravagant about it. I love to add something extra, whether it’s placing a table in a different place or adapting any space for dinner. Culinary creations can be very performative, like an opera or theatre where we invite people to play a role.

Coming originally from Poland, a place known for its hospitality, how do you integrate this aspect into your role as a hotelier in Sicily?

Poland is very similar to Italy and being in Sicily initially felt like coming back home but in a different country. At the end of the day, the impact of the Christian church, the way we are brought up and the traditions made us very similar nations. Polish people are known for generosity and hospitality, and I’m proud to cherish my heritage wherever I am.

What, in your opinion, defines the perfect vacation, and how do you strive to create that experience for your guests?

For me, a comfortable bed and good food are essential on holidays. Our guesthouse has the best beds in Sicily, made of 100% natural materials. A good breakfast is important to start the day. My guests shape their stay, whether joining activities or minding their own business. The perfect vacation is having the freedom to do anything, but knowing someone is there for you.

You live in two vastly different worlds throughout the year, alternating between an island and the city. Do you find yourself missing aspects of life in Amsterdam when you’re in Sicily, and vice versa?

In Sicily, I sometimes miss my city routine, hot yoga class, Asian food, and seeing friends. When I’m in Amsterdam, I miss the Sicilian sun, dipping in the sea, and my orchard on the slopes of Mount Etna. But this aspect made me a humble person—I try to be happy wherever I am.

Besides commuting between Amsterdam and Sicily, you also balance your professional life between being an art director and hotelier. What advice would you give to people aspiring to pursue a similar lifestyle?

Don’t be afraid of taking risks and being unsure about the choices you make. Don’t question the choices of others, make space for undefined and non-labelled people, and don’t compare yourself to other people. Combing disciplines and playing around with them is the best thing ever happened to me. Rome was not built in a day and sometimes it takes years to get to the point where you own what you do in life.

Lastly, could you share some of your must-see recommendations for Sicily that visitors shouldn't miss during their stay?

First, Casa Lawa, my absolute favourite spot in Sicily. I think Etna is magical and mysterious. Green vineyards, gentlemen wearing flat caps in Fiat Pandas, the eternally majestic Etna as the backdrop.

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Lukas Lewandowski x Closed
Lukas Lewandowski x Closed

“Don’t be afraid of taking risks and being unsure about the choices you make.”

Lukas Lewandowski x Closed