Balaton Design Furniture from Badacsonytomaj – a talk with Bálint Széll, one of the designers of "Wind & Beer".

stories Barbara H. Kormos / Photos: Bálint Széll

The story of two young people, a photographer and a winemaker, who do carpentry work in a workshop in Badacsonytomaj, and their furniture is of great interest throughout Lake Balaton.

Bálint's love for furniture began early in his life when he helped his grandfather with his handicrafts. He describes himself as a "tireless tinkerer and avid collector of memorabilia", which is best demonstrated by his blog, "Nem Mind Lom" (It's Not All Junk), whose primary mission is to breathe new life into old furniture. With his friend Leopold Nagy, they created the Wind & Beer Joinery, a brand growing in popularity, especially around Lake Balaton.

How did you hit on the idea of Wind & Beer?

I've always had a great attraction for refurbishing furniture. It started with a blog entitled "Nem Mind Lom" (It's Not All Junk) about eight to ten years ago. I bought a small press house in Magyarpolány and renovated it myself. The idea was the same as that of the blog: to save every piece of old furniture and object, renovate it and give it a new function. The essence hasn't changed over the years. I try to live as naturally as I can, leaving as small a footprint as possible.

How did your partner Leopold come into the picture?

Leopold, aka Poldi, is an old friend of mine. We used to have a band, we worked together in the past, so there are many points where we connect. He has a degree in wood engineering. His father is a carpenter, and they own a workshop in Badacsonytomaj. When Poldi's father went abroad to work, the workshop was left empty. One day about three years ago, we sat there and pondered what we could do with it. Then we tidied it up, purchased the right machinery piece by piece, modernised everything and started making furniture. For us, it's a kind of therapy: after work, we go there, we drill, carve, sand wood and talk. It recharges us. For Poldi, it's a family tradition, even though he has a full-time job. As for me, my grandfather was a genuine handyman: when I was a kid, we used to make stairs and fences and everything together, and I fell in love with woodworking. I later learned the trade from Leopold.

You mention that you manufacture furniture after work and that it's not your primary vocation. What is your original profession? What else do you do besides make furniture?

Poldi is a winemaker near Lake Balaton, and I work as a photographer. I have a degree in engineering and economics, and for years I worked for a multinational company. But I soon realised that it was not my calling, so I started to do photography on the side. Niki Molnár and I take wedding photos; we are Wondeer Wedding and Lifestyle Photography. I also have individual assignments, and I do graphic design work, too.

Your studio is in Badacsonytomaj. Do you live there? What are your ties to Lake Balaton?

Poldi is absolutely a child of Balaton. He grew up in Tomaj and currently lives next to the workshop. I live in Magyarpolány, a small dead-end village in Bakonyalja (the foothills of Bakony). But I do a lot of photography at Lake Balaton. Most of my independent assignments are there, so I spend half of the week near the lake because of my work. I would say Balatonfüred is my home base, and of course, Badacsonytomaj is the location for the furniture work.

What kind of furniture exactly do you make?

It's safe to say that when someone thinks of us in furniture, folding garden chairs come to mind. Initially, we had several custom orders, but eventually, we decided to work with fixed models, all of them garden chairs. This chair is a family legend: I still have the one my grandfather made. We've reworked the shape and refined it so that although there are similar products on the market, you can't find this shape and these proportions anywhere else. It is ours. All the pieces are handmade from oak in our shop. Before assembling it, we coat it twice with outdoor oil to ensure it will withstand the elements.

Where can I buy the chairs? Also, if we're around Lake Balaton, is there a place where we can see your work?

You can buy the chairs in person at our place in Badacsonytomaj, Ajka or Veszprém. Still, since I travel all over the country, we also deliver elsewhere.

You can see them at Folly Arboretum and Istvándy Birtok (Istvándy Estate). The chairs are easily recognisable by their unique design and the Wind & Beer label. Luckily, we often get enquiries from customers who have seen our products somewhere.


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