The graphic designer, illustrator and porcelain designer finds Zen in illustration and in creating objects that combine strength with utter fragility. When she steps into her workshop, time seems to stand still and inspiration takes over.
Magdalena Łapińska was born in Warsaw on the 27th of May 1986. She got her background in design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, coming up with a design for a Warsaw Museum of Modernism as her diploma project. Yet design didn't always figure so clearly on the horizon. Łapińska admits that it wasn't until she began taking classes in design at university that she really began to understand the concept of design. She explains, "The Design Department showed me what it was about, in other words, how to think. Later I discovered the role of intuition, sensibility and the clever use of serendipity".
She takes her inspiration from all over, constantly "searching, looking all around and searching". She discovers her subject in anything from modernist architecture to a cool tattoo. She has found that "inspiration can be found when you least expect it, or in the most unexpected place. Sometimes an idea rises seemingly out of thin air". She has moved on from illustration and graphic design - recently quitting her job at K-Mag, a Warsaw-based lifestyle magazine - so that she could devote more time to her artistic projects, focusing more on the fine art of porcelain design. Most recently she presented her designs at the Art Yard Sale showcase of Polish talent at London Design Festival in September 2013.
Her latest projects have branched off into two characteristic (and charismatic) directions. On the one hand, her recent series of dinner plates are a clever combination of hipness and elegance - so gorgeous, in fact, that for most buyers they are just too pretty to eat off of... and they end up hanging on the wall, old-school style. Her other pet project is a fox figurine in pure white, with monochrome details - a decidedly contemporary form that appears a gracious tribute to Poland's porcelain tradition of the '50s and '60s and the iconic figurines of Mieczysław Naruszewicz and Lubomir Tomaszewski. Łapińska's fox is thoroughly original, slim, elegant and mysterious. "I chose the fox because I adore foxes", she says, "They're lovely, clever, they have something charming about them, but also a bit of danger. For a while I have wanted to design a fox figurine because I simply wanted to have one for myself, but I couldn't find one anywhere that I liked".
Porcelain is not the most obvious of materials in this tech-minded age, particularly for a young designer. But Łapińska says,
Porcelain, for me, is the most beautiful material in existence. It is solid, but delicate, it can be shiny or matte, it has its limitations, but also many possibilities. It has a centuries-old tradition (discovered in China in the 7th century), but I use it in a new way, I play with form and colour. I make most of my pieces by hand, so I experience the entire process from start to finish. Besides, working with porcelain is a form of meditation for me. I go into the workshop and time stands still.
Her inspirations reach back to the finest decades of Polish design throughout the first half of the 20th century, to the objects created by the BLOK group, Władysław Strzemiński, Henryk Berlewi and Katarzyna Kobro. As she explains,
At that time, art was supposed to serve the interests of product design, typography, and so on... I go back to that time by looking at past issues of publications like ARKADY. Many of the designers and illustrators I know in Warsaw look to the past for inspiration. The meshing of art, graphic arts and design could also be seen in the 1950s and '60s, when the organic form prevailed. Forms of soft, asymmetrical contours were introduced, reminiscent of elements appearing naturally in the wild. Architecture is around us on an everyday basis, so intentionally or unintentionally, it influences creative activity. My fascination with Warsaw probably comes from a need to discover something I really like about this city.
The city of Warsaw is among her chief inspirations, having been the hero of her recognisable series of porcelain replicas of Warsaw's most iconic examples of modernist architecture. The clean forms of the Central Station, PKO bank, Supersam market or the Skarpa cinema have been restored in these small, shiny geometric figurines in fine, milky-hued porcelain. What makes her DREAM OF WARSAW project most intriguing is the fact that two of these buildings - Supersam and Skarpa - have been torn down in recent years to make way for your typical office and shopping complexes. What she finds most inspiring about Warsaw is its "wildness", explaining, "This is a city that is pure chaos, a blend of everything, but I think that this is exactly what's interesting about it and what spurs one to action".
She uses her intuition to seam together past and present, yet her projects are not mere replicas of the icons of the past, but present a fresh, youthful recouping of these elements and ideas. Her porcelain takes granny-style tableware and gives it a twist, taking the "oldskul" and interpreting it in her very own way, while paying heed to this form's historic legacy. In creating A DREAM OF WARSAW, her goal was to create something between a souvenir and a collector's piece for those who love the city. As she shares,
I started to think about the architectural symbols of Warsaw. I realized that apart from the Palace of Culture, we hadn't cultivated any such symbols. So I sat down and began to think about what buildings I considered to be such symbols. The pieces of this puzzle came together to create the collection.
At the moment the designer is busy building her Łapińska Porcelana brand and website, which is set to begin running in late October, while continuing to work as a freelancer on graphic design commissions. If that wasn't enough, on weekends hip Warsaw party folk count on Łapińska and her Ménage à trois DJ trio. She and two friends started turning tables a few years ago and found a place for themselves among Warsaw's most popular formations with their girl-power-meets-nostalgic-kitsch style.
Her dream is to one day open a porcelain design studio and shop, which would host workshops, lectures and exhibitions for adults and children, a place full of life and people. "Porcelain pieces are beautiful and working with ceramics have therapeutic benefits, a relaxation technique. Why not bring together these two aspects in one place?"
For more, see: www.lapinska.com
Author: Agnes Monod-Gayraud
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