Maria Jeglińska founded the Office for Design & Research and is one of the youngest, most promising Polish designers. Her work is characterised by simplicity, and contains large variations in function and componentry.
Jeglińska graduated from the prestigious ECAL in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2007. She gained experience under the guidance of world-famous designers: Ronan Bouroullec in Lausanne, Konstantin Grcic in Munich and Alexander Taylor in London.
Her first attempts at her own designs were immediately very well received. Wallpaper magazine in January 2008 ranked her as among the world's most promising young talents.
Jeglińska has participated in international exhibitions and design fairs including the Salone del Mobile in Milan, the London Design Festival and the Biennale of Design in St. Etienne. Her product designs are being produced by companies such as Ligne Roset, Cinna and DesignMarketo.
She is also active in conceptual and research work, cooperating with the W.I.R.E. think tank in Zurich and the Eastern European Study Think Tank, which she co-founded in 2010), and above all through the Office for Design & Research. The latter began in London then opened a branch in Warsaw in 2012.
Jeglińska's work includes various types of design, from small items for everyday use to furniture and interior design. Her objects and spaces can be freely modified and altered for use in a variety of ways. She told the website Futu.pl that:
I'm interested in how items are used, what the space is around them, who the user is, and what the quality of this item already in use will be. […] For example, vases have two functions, holding water and displaying flowers. My vases in The Grid from 2007 separate these two functions into two objects. A small aluminium saucer, which contains water, and a free-standing structure [of plastic mesh], which holds a flower.
The intended use of Jeglińska's objects is not obvious at first glance. For example, Space / Object (2008), a small cabinet on wheels, can serve as a piece of furniture, as a clipboard or workplace, while also serving as a convenient room divider. In addition, these cabinets are light and easy to move thanks to their wheels.
Another characteristic of Jeglińska's designs is that they do not dominate the spaces they reside in. Their visual transparency is a measure of visual function. Jeglińska emphasises that she creates objects for everyday use, not as works of art.
She follows this philosophy in producing her designs for furniture, lamps and drinking glasses. ASH, a series of three wooden objects from 2012, was an attempt to create lighting fixtures devoid of form, Jeglińska said.
I wanted to achieve the common denominator to the most basic shapes in order to highlight the texture and natural lines of the wood.
The result were sculptures shaped like mushroom caps. Jeglińska collaborated with a Polish craftsman on this project.
It was an interesting clash between our two ways of working: mine, deliberate and planned, while his was intuitive.
Her Circles tables (2012), Goodie seats (2012) and Maré lamp(2010) are characterised by lightness, simplicity and easy adaptability to different functions and needs.
With Tiecup (2010), Jeglińska came up with an original solution for holding cups, which are each tied with four nylon cable-ties to form the handles.
Her Maurizio (2011) was conceived “as a souvenir […] rather than a reinterpretation of the iconic glass,” wrote DesignMarketo, which produces the designs. The glasses are a portrait of Maurizio Stocchetto, the owner of Bar Basso in Milan.
Jeglińska says that her work philosophy is partly a result of her Swiss education:
At ECAL, we had to arrange our own work schedule for two years and become independent in our work, which was an amazing experience. This was the ideal situation, because we had access to all the equipment at the school, while being free in what we were doing.
These sentiments were reiterated by architect Jan Strumiłło, a fellow graduate and assistant to Christian Kerez, who has collaborated with Jeglińska on several occasions. Strumiłło noted how important it is "to focus in one place, [together with] a large number of outstanding practitioners with often radically different aesthetic views, who are able to defend these views at the same time and put them into practice", in an interview with Agnieszka Kowalska for the book Warsaw: Architects, Designers, Activists about their city (2012).
While Jeglińska's objects embrace simplicity, their design process is very extensive, where sketches play a key role. As the artist explained, her method might be described as “thinking through drawing”:
Some people use their hands to produce objects. I use my hands to draw, sketch and work on ideas which pop into my head. A few hand-drawn lines may go much further than anything produced mechanically. My train of thought intuitively follows these drawings.
The artist is able to fill a whole sketchbook with drawings of one object. Gradually, page by page, it takes shape.
It's like a musician practising before playing a new song. Only by repeating certain movements can one expand the ideas and transpose them to other media. For me, drawing is a crucial process for understanding and grasping the essence of the subject.
Drawing also helps the designs develop and mature:
I always fear falling into the trap of repetition. I know that the project is on track only when I see that my drawings are different from the previous ones. [...] It is sometimes a painful process: you have to deviate from the familiar and go into uncharted territory.
Jeglińska's work is therefore considered a continuous dialogue between two- and three-dimensional concepts. One such example is her design for a set of five plates, CMYKG (2007), based on a decorative motif popular in the 19th century, but interpreted in four colours of ink (CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow and black) and in addition to gold (G).
Jeglińska also curates and designs exhibitions and their spaces. Along with Livia Lauber, she designed Wonder Cabinets of Europe (www.wondercabinetsofeurope.eu) for the London Design Festival in 2012, which was attended by eight design studios from five European cities. The same year, Jeglińska was one of the exhibition curators at the Łódź Design Festival.
Together with Jan Strumiłło, she won a competition in 2011 to design a temporary interior for the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. The team also prepared the exhibition dedicated to Polish illustration, O-kupować, in May 2012.
More proof of Jeglińska's search for diversity can be found in the video Disneymotionland, filmed at Disneyland near Paris and prepared for the exhibition La Ville Mobile at the Biennial of Design in St. Etienne in 2010. In this work, Jeglińska's work is juxtaposed with elements from a romantic fairy tale.
In the porcelain set Nathalie & George for Kristoff company Jeglińska plays with contrasts. Juxtaposing two courageous patterns: black and white stripes and dots with emerald curving lines she arrives at an astonishingly harmonious effect. The set consists of a kettle, a cup with a saucer, plates, a sugar bowl, a creamer , a bowl and an egg holder. The designer herself compares the set to complicated human relationships dynamics, commenting on the development process of the project:
After a while, I began to juxtapose my sketches side by side and discovered that the contrast produced by two different motifs was far more interesting than simply repeating the same pattern on each element of the set. As with real-life couples, the combination of different characteristics produced a strong and lasting effect, combining different qualities into one cohesive set.” (http://no-sir.com/product/nathalie-george-porcelain/)
She uses a similar decorative pattern for the CIRCLE Vase, a vase made of wood, that opposes mass production product design rules. Here the designer bets on inperfections, celebrating both hand made body of the vase and adding a hand painted pattern to it.
Little black (“Mała czarna”) project from 2014 is a play on the past and, at the same time, an attempt to redefine it and translating it into contemporary design. Jeglińska was inspired by Polish cafes from the fifties and sixties, with their distinguished interior design, and light wire furniture pieces. Taking this inspiration as a point of departure, Jeglińska also speaks back to the Polish Poster School tradition, with its courageous lines. She transforms this inspiration into a design of a blue chair, of which seat and back are composed of curving lines, as if taken from Młodożeniec’s posters.
In 2016 she prepared a collection of objects for Hotel Essentials for the Author Rooms Hotel in Warsaw. It is a set of eight objects , made of wood, glass and copper, combined into minimal compositions. Unpretensious glass carafe is here juxtaposed against a thick wooden tray, a wall mirror is enframed into two holders, whose shape is later repeated in a shelf underneath them. Three free standing mirrors, with their unusual shapes are placed on top of wooden blocks and look almost as if they were sculptures rather than strictly functional objects.
For more information about the artist, visit: www.mariajeglinska.com.
Author: Paulina Kucharska, February 2013. Updated, July 2016, AM.
Translation and editing: Roberto Galea, March 2013
The text uses excerpts from an interview with Maria Jeglińska published at www.futu.pl.
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