“Good design is beautiful, it’s well-made, and it’s inspiring—but it also has a story,” says Kowalski, who uses this philosophy to stock his eclectic boutique, Brick + Mortar, at Westside Provisions District. Inside, find an array of furniture (Americana industrial lamps, midcentury modern Heywood-Wakefield dressers, French leather chairs from the 1920s); ephemera (old maps, taxidermy); and contemporary goods, including womenswear by Atlanta designer Megan Huntz.
Atlanta. I was born at Northside Hospital.
Westview. Both my grandmothers lived there as teens, and I’ve been there eight years.
It was never my intention to have a store. I was coming off a nine-to-five job in education and rented a part-time booth at Paris on Ponce just because I had a lot of stuff.
Endive Publik House [in Loring Heights] is so freaking good and never talked about. And the farm egg at Miller Union is probably my favorite meal.
There’s nothing in my store that I wouldn’t put in my own home, even our boldest pieces. Right now I’m loving an old medical lamp. It’s 10 feet tall and steel—like a giant version of an arm lamp. Probably no one will ever buy it.
Billy Reid is my favorite store in Atlanta because it’s got a Southern aesthetic with a great fit. I also like Steven Alan. They’re both right downstairs.
My mom is a musician, and my dad always listened to classical music. They gave me a deep appreciation for beauty at an early age. Growing up, my family would go to the High all the time. My dad taught me to appreciate the layers of good design.
From a design standpoint, travel opens your eyes to what other cultures view as beautiful. I’d love to go back to Iceland; Nordic design has a way of being both minimal and really warm at the same time.
I recently sold a phone book from the 1950s, when numbers were still listed by street, not by name. An older lady came in with her granddaughter and looked through the whole book to find her name, and when she did, she flipped her lid. That’s what I want to happen: for people to feel a connection to these pieces and continue their stories.
Kowalski’s line of candles is available in rugged fragrances like moss and forest, $28.
This article originally appeared in our June 2017 issue.