It all started in the summer of 2017.

Chie, a Japanese woman who lives in Poland, got an order from one of the Japanese TV stations: “find a Polish religious sculptor who could fly to Japan in a week and stay there for a whole week.” Japanese TV station Asahi was looking for such a man for the program “Japan is admired by the whole world – ‘wow’ delegation” for the episode “World Heritage Kyoto “. In each episode, invited specialists from other countries watch Japanese craftsmanship techniques and their unusual examples. The result is usually a “wow!” sigh. Then the guests talk about their own work.

In the middle of the vacation, in the car during family trip Chie began to google slogans about religious carvers, because she didn’t know anyone, and call them. “Hello, can you go to Japan in a week? It’s all free.” No wonder people thought it was a joke. Suddenly a Japanese woman calls and offers a free trip to Japan in a week’s time. However, there was one who believed the unfamiliar Japanese woman, put off all vacation and career plans, and flew to Japan. It was Andrzej Burkot. He traveled a lot around the world, but he has not been to Japan yet, although one of his sculptures stands in a church in Japan.

It was probably the most intense week in Andrzej’s life. He was conducted around temples in Kyoto and exhibited lots of ancient wooden architecture and Buddhist statues. There was also a “national treasure man” waiting for him, the heir of kirikane – the centuries-old technique of gilding on the surface of wood. This traditional technique of coating with a very thin layer of gold was used on Buddhist statues and paintings and developed in Japan from the 7th century onwards. Andrzej was struck by the precise beauty of the kirikane – so he bought all the necessary tools for the kirikane, and as soon as he returned to Poland he tried to master this technique day and night. In the end he managed to use it in making the polychrome paintings of his sculptures. In 2018 at the international exhibition SACROEXPO in Kielce – due to originality and aesthetic value – sculptures decorated with the KIRIKANE technique received the main distinction, the PRO OPERE POLITISSIMA ARTE PERFECTO medal.

Andrzej met Chie for the first time in the fall of that year. Chie organized the annual “Bunkasai Autumn Festival of Japanese Arts” in Warsaw and invited him to the 2017 edition. Not only was he a guest, he also demonstrated the kirikane technique there. It was the moment when the festival participants saw this dying tradition for the first time in Poland, which is now little known even in Japan.

Andrzej’s fascination with traditional Japanese craftsmanship in wood did not end with kirikane. He learned techniques such as Kumiko and Yosegi. He also learned carving and built one of the largest woodcarving workshops in Poland. He inspired also his niece, Krzysztof Stasiak, a member of his studio crew. Now the two of them came every year to the Bunkasai Festival to show and teach Japanese wood craftsmanship. For the 2019 edition, in cooperation with Chie, they produced the Kumiko hand made kit – the only kits in Poland for self-assembly of Kumiko pads and candlesticks.

In 2020, in the Polish textbook of mathematics, in the chapter on geometry, Kumiko was presented along with photos of works by Andrzej and Krzysztof. The interest in Japanese craft techniques is growing in Poland. We decided to start the “KIGI” brand together to spread the beauty of these handcrafted products.

Andrzej Burkot

Creator of sculptures mainly on religious themes. He graduated from the Faculty of Physics at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Since 1984 the owner of the woodcarving workshop, which is still operating today – Andrzej Burkot Pracownia Snycerska. His works have received many awards and distinctions at exhibitions and fairs. He always has a young spirit and the strength to create something new.

Krzysztof Stasiak

He is engaged in the Japanese art of kumiko decoration and working with wood. The moments spent with kumiko decorations allow him to expand his manual skills and delve into the secrets of this extraordinary art of fascinating patterns and work with great precision and accuracy. After graduating from the Cracow University of Technology, he started working at the wood carving workshop in Górki Wielkie, where he learns a number of activities, from handicraft work on finishing polychrome figures to using modern computer technologies and automation for their production. He has deep peace and humility.

Chie Piskorska

She has been living in Poland since 1997. The owner of the MakiMaki brand. She is also a space designer, lecturer at the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology (in the field of culture, aesthetics and interior design of Japan), initiator and organizer of the Bunkasai Autumn Festival of Japanese Arts, the Exhibition of New Japonisme, the Japanese Fair, and other events in Warsaw. KIGI brand initiator. She lives between Poland and Japan. Believes that beauty will save the world.

Ryszard Piskorski

A graduate of the Faculty of Industrial Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He has Polish-Japanese roots. At KIGI he deals with branding and packaging design. He has a great sensitivity towards beauty.