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Design in Poland: Must-Sees 2017


Agnieszka Sural

A modern take on a legendary graphic design exhibition, the power of Polish street art and the Polish computer industry – here’s a guide to the most important design exhibitions in Poland in 2017.

The Second Polish Exhibition of Graphic Symbols

Katalog pierwszej ogólnopolskiej wystawy znaków graficznych, 1969, fot. mat. organizatorów
Catalogue of the First Polish Exhibition of Graphic Symbols, 1969, photo: courtesy of the organisers

The Second Polish Exhibition of Graphic Symbols will be on display in two Polish cities: at the BWA Gallery in Zielona Góra (10th March 2nd April 2017) and the BWA Gallery in Jelenia Góra (14th April – 10th June 2017). The exhibition will show some of the most important Polish graphic design achievements – including graphic symbols from the period 1945-1969 as well as contemporary projects from the years 2000-2015.

The first attempt at showing the phenomenon and role of the graphic design and logos in Poland date back to 1969 and the First Polish Exhibition of Graphic Symbols. The symbols from 1945-1969 reflected modernist tendencies and the limited technical means of the times. After almost 50 years, two artists: Patryk Hardziej and Rene Wawrzkiewicz decided to change that. According to them:

Symbols are not only an aesthetic code, through which we communicate, but they are also a language that expresses emotions, an identity and a worldview. Symbols are like a lens, which reflects the history of individuals, a society or of a nation.

Street art in Poland 1970-2010

Mural Blu, Kamienica pod Żaglowcem, ul. Sienna 45, Warszawa, fot. dzięki uprzejmości Miesto / Mateusza Ściechowskiego
Mural by Blu, 45 Sienna Street, Warsaw, photo: courtesy of Mateusz Ściechowski

Polish street art is considered some of the best in the world, its creators are constantly mentioned in the media. At the beginning of 2014, CNN produced a programme called Bigger than Banksy about Polish murals in Łódź, which is known for its big-format artwork created by famous artists from around the globe. According to boredpanda.com, when it comes to street art, Łódź can compete only with New York.

Wild Graphics: Four Decades of Polish Visual Street Diversion 1970-2010 (editor’s translation) at the Poster Museum in Wilanów (9th March – 7th May 2017) will be the first large-scale exhibition dedicated to street art in Poland. It will feature templates, posters, fliers, murals, graffiti and stickers designed by artists involved in social and political movements. The curators of the exhibition are Marcin Rutkiewicz, Tomasz Sikorski and Michał Warda.

The Elwro Plant at the Dizajn Gallery at BWA Wrocław

Wrocławskie Zakłady Elektroniczne "Elwro", fot. Paweł Szecówka / dzięki uprzejmości Galerii Dizajn BWA we Wrocławiu
The Elwro Electronic Company in Wrocław, photo: Paweł Szecówka, courtesy of the Dizajn Gallery at BWA Wrocław

The Dizajn Gallery at BWA Wrocław will show an exhibition about the computer industry in Poland and the visual identity of Wrocław’s Elwro Electronic Company Elwro (editor’s translation), producer of one of the first office calculators in Poland – Elwro 105LN. The curator, Iwona Kałuża, writes:

The Electron Brains: Elwro and its Artists [editor’s translation] will recall the foundations for the creation of the company’s image between 1959 and 1993. Artists and graphic designers from Wrocław are behind all of Elwro’s advertising, expositions and computer and calculator casings.

Among the designers who worked for Elwro are alumni of the Design and Graphic Art departments of the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław: Eugeniusz Get-Stankiewicz, Benedykt Hadyński, Jan Kaczkowski, Roman Kowalik, Wiktor Możejko, Edward Pełech, Mieczysław Pirog, Paweł Szecówka and Włodzimierz Szyszko.

Fresh Design workshops in Wrocław

Warsztaty Fresh Design, fot. mat. prasowe
Fresh Design Workshops, photo: press materials

The CRZ Krzywy Komin will host international bicycle design workshops for students from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal and Iceland. Alongside the workshops, the event will also feature meetings with urban planning specialists and a debate on ‘green’ modes of transportation. Students interested in this event can sign up for the workshops at www.freshdesign.edu.pl.

Sources: organisers’ materials, originally written in Polish, 6 Feb 2017, translated by WF, 10 Feb 2017.

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DESIGN & INNOVATION