Justyna Popławska is a storyteller, a raconteur of tales told through the interplay of glass and light, tales which are both ephemeral and full of subtle poetry.
Popławska obtained her master’s degree from the Department of Glass Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław in 2008. She continued to pursue her interest in glass while studying product design for two years at the Danish Design School.
While her portfolio embraces such projects as the Okto seat and a double cup set for drinking and snacking, it is when Popławska plays with light and glass that her talent shines most brightly.
Commenting on her target audience, Popławska states:
My work is for people who search for unique solutions in design and craft, and also for those who value local production with an individual story behind it — (Łódź Design Festival 2012 catalogue).
Identifying herself as "a designer and a crafter", Popławska eagerly revisits traditional craft techniques and employs them in her own work. Such is the case in the Luminaire series; here Popławska unites traditional glass blowing with contemporary LED technology, incorporating LED lighting into blown glass elements. In this union, the strips of LED light lose some of their piercing clarity, gaining instead a more ambiguous, soft quality, while the glass elements are brought to life. Leather strips wrapped around organic glass elements add a sense of inner tension to the entire story.
Another experiment with LEDs resulted in a night lamp, aptly named Tilted. This project encourages user participation, as the tube can be manipulated and set at a variety of angles. Light from the LEDs is transmitted through solid glass, which results in a somewhat ambiguous light and tells a story which Popławska describes as "mysterious".
When talking about the Fungi lamp, the artist points to "mould overwhelming architecture" as her source of inspiration. A chaotic ensemble of bulb-like elements assumes a biomorphic, plant-like shape when put together. When switched on, it emits a very subtle light that emphasizes the intricate shapes of each element, transforming the lamp into an enchanting, sculpture-like object.
Popławska’s lamps, however, are not as smooth as glass. She adapts recycled glass from old bottles and jars, transforming them into a translucent material with a rough, sugar-like texture. This technique was also applied in Luna, a fragile-looking pendant lamp which seems to entice one to bite into it. Compared to her earlier projects, Luna is striking in its straight-forwardness. It tells a simple story. Poetry arises in the combination of its rough texture, the unfinished edges of the shade and the hint of light bulb peeking out of it.
Popławska’s lamps, with their poetic shapes, are marked by a striking ability to create moods. The designer acknowledges: “I like to work with glass and lighting because they both share a dose of ephemerality and illusion which brings magical moments into everyday life.” She adds: “I am particularly interested in creating moods with the versatile range of my projects.”
2012 — SHOWHOW Sustainable Design with Human Touch exhibition shown at the London Design Festival
2012 — Who Are You? exhibition, Łódź Design Festival, Poland.
2010 — Danmarks Nationalbanks Jubilaumsfond af 1968 legat (the best graduation project at the Denmark Design School)
2010 — Stanislav Libensky award, Prague Gallery of Czech Glass (nomination)
— CAMGERAN2010 exhibition, Contemporary Glass Museum in Eskisehir, Turkey (nomination)
2008 — Solo graduation exhibition in Glass and Ceramic Gallery Wrocław, Poland
2008 — Bombay Sapphire Designer Competition, Poland (nominated for the top 10)
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