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Rene Wawrzkiewicz

Rene Wawrzkiewicz, photo: courtesy of the artist
Rene Wawrzkiewicz, photo: courtesy of the artist

Rene Wawrzkiewicz’s multifold activities are astonishing indeed: throughout his career he has worked as a designer, researcher, organizer, design curator, and — most recently — scholar. He is easily one of the most influential people in the Polish graphic design scene, the eminent face of its professionalisation.

Wawrzkiewicz graduated from the Faculty of Graphic Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 2001, together with Magdalena Ponagajbo and Michał Pawlik, he established Mamastudio, one of the first independent graphic design studios in Poland. He worked there as co-owner and designer until 2008, when he decided to start a freelance career.

Wawrzkiewicz is one of the founders and board members of the first (and only) Polish society of graphic designers — the Association of Applied Graphic Designers (STGU), established in 2004. The STGU now attracts over 200 members (students and scholars) from various fields and specializations — from illustration, poster and book design to branding and digital design (user interface, web design, mobile applications). The organization creates an active platform for communication and an environment for defending the creative freedom of members, and aims to reinforce the process of professionalisation of the discipline. This is done through education about good design practices and organizing exhibitions, lectures, workshops, contests and conferences, such as the "Graphic Knowledge Fair" (Targi Wiedzy Graficznej), an annual event conceived and organized by Wawrzkiewicz since 2011.

Another of Wawrzkiewicz’s initiatives as a member of the STGU was to create a competition to judge the best designs from Poland each year. The Project of the Year is the first such event since 1989 that attempts to evaluate and describe every aspect of Polish graphic design, taking into account not only the formal values of works, but also their social and cultural impact. The entries are broken down into six categories: Form, Function, Debut, Authority, Ethics and Event. The contest, overseen by Wawrzkiewicz, was first held in 2011 and three event have been planned.

Wawrzkiewicz also conceived and organized "Design for Freedom — Freedom in Design", a touring exhibition which aimed to define the transformation of Polish visual culture since the days of Solidarity. In 2011-2012, the exhibition toured in Japan, Germany, Azerbaijan and Sweden.

Rene Wawrzkiewicz, "Stadion X. Miejsce, którego nie było", book cover
Rene Wawrzkiewicz, Stadion X. Miejsce, którego nie było, book cover

As an advocate of socially engaged design, Wawrzkiewicz has been involved in projects in politically sensitive countries, such as Belarus and Cuba. He also took part in projects in the Caucasus, undertaking research into the socialist architecture of the region, entitled Ruins of Our Times (in cooperation with the Laura Palmer Foundation, 2010).

Together with design critic Agata Szydłowska, Wawrzkiewicz founded the "Design Critique Platform" (Pracownia Krytyki Dizajnu), the first Polish think tank dealing with design culture in Central Europe.

In 2013, Wawrzkiewicz curated exhibitions of Polish visual designers and illustrators in Berlin during the TypoBerlin and Illustrativa festivals.

In autumn 2013, Wawrzkiewicz will take up the post of Head of Communication Design at the School of Form in Poznań.

Author: Klara Czerniewska, September 2013.

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Rene Wawrzkiewicz


Rene Wawrzkiewicz


The Elwro Electronic Company in Wrocław, photo: Paweł Szecówka, courtesy of the Dizajn Gallery at BWA Wrocław

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Rene Wawrzkiewicz


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