The Gdańsk-based design group brings together the talents of three members - Małgorzata Malinowska, Filip Ludka and Tomek Kempa - who consider themselves one creative body with three heads. Their projects put a fresh spin on typical forms to create funky, functional objects in wood, metal and glass.
All three members boast solid architectural backgrounds, with Malinowska and Ludka graduates of the Gdańsk Polytechnic, and Kempa a graduate of the Westminster School of Architecture. Yet in spite of their training, the three were united by a common fascination in smaller-scale forms. As designers, their style is distinguished by a dedication to natural materials and a minimalist, geometric-inspired form. They often opt for plywood as a base material, which they consider one of the most underappreciated materials available. These objects are cut using the CNC milling machine with numerical controls and assembled by hand. This labour-intensive method gives the team a great deal of room for experimentation, with each project a gateway to subsequent ideas and new products. They maintain quite an intimate approach to the fruits of their labour, explaining in a statement published on tabanda.pl,
Tabanda is not only three designers, it is also our products. The ones that we have created so far have become full-fledged members of our team and very often hint us towards new ideas. This means that all projects have a common factor – on one side they are modern, on the other – they share a minimal design. Additionally, in each piece we have hidden elements inspired by nature – try to find them! We have given undervalued materials like plywood a second chance, thus breaking common production stereotypes. Equipped with imagination, a CNC cutter and handicraft skills we can come up with any three dimensional form!
One of the trio's most recognisable designs is the Falon modular seat, Lampania lamp and Moose table. All three pieces have received the Must Have award at the Łódź Design Festival as among the best-designed products on the Polish market. These objects are entirely different in form, yet each sport the group's customary whimsical style, from the infinite possibilities of the Falon to the tidy basic form of Lampania and the antler-inspired base of the Moose.
Their products are based on functional furnishings, objects and installations, along with interventions in the public space. They approach each project as a challenge and feed off the adrenaline each new project generates. As they say, they strive for their projects to be user-friendly, with a contemporary form, made of natural materials sourced locally and inspired by the world around them.
DIAGO chair, awarded in 2013 at the Lodz Design Festival was inspired by traditional origami techniques. The form is laser-cut, with well pronounced lines of folds, which harshness is however smothered by joyful colors that designers chose: ranging from red, green or delicate blue. DIAGO is at the same time cheeky and friendly, inviting the user to sit and stay. To add an even cosier feel to this design Tabanda experimented with felt padding for the sitting part, creating another model called FELT DIAGO.
On the other hand NOWA STOŁOWA lamp gives away the designers’ sense of humour. Toying with the idea of 3D objects, they design a product that operates almost only in two dimensions. The lampshade, made of bended aluminium, barely suggests the outer lines of the product. On top of that Tabanda decides to add a colorful cable, transporting the whole project into the realm of designers' joke.
Their projects in the public space include the November 2011 installation dedicated to the legacy of Maria Skłodowska-Curie on the 100th anniversary of her receipt of the Nobel Prize. Their Totem was a symbolic representation of the element Polonium, installed before one of Warsaw's most historic buildings along Krakowskie Przedmieście. Soon enough, it became a regular meeting spot for passersby to convene and relax.
Tabanda belongs to the Swelina Association, whose most notable projects include the transformation of the bus stop at SKM Sopot, a stop along the ARTbus route, which provides a mobile tour of the city's most happening art destinations, set up on the occasion of the Polish EU Presidency. The association also created the kinetic sculptures along the Swelina (Swelinia) River in the north of the city. Made of plywood, branches, empty bottles, metals pipes and other random objects which have been blended into eye-catching compositions that are constant motion thanks to the movements of the river. The objects also generate sound, which is projected onto the river banks.
In 2013 Tabanda conceived the spatial composition for the Design Terminal at Gdynia Design Days and curated the Contemporary Improvisations exhibition, which revolved around the creative potential of Poland's northern coast, its designers and producers. The project gave a glimpse into the creative universe of designers and how objects are made from conception to finish, from chairs, shoes and musical scores. The form of an egg was presented as an ideal example of shape and form, while new approaches to form through improvisation were encouraged. The exhibition went on to be shown at DMY Berlin later that year.
See more on Tabanda at www.tabanda.pl
Author: Katarzyna Zacharska. Translated (with edits) by Agnes Monod-Gayraud,01.08.2013, updated AM, May 2016.