Wojciech Bajor (born 1952) is an architect, designer, scenographer and the founder of Bajo - a company which produces wooden toys and furniture for children.
Wojciech Bajor studied physics at the Jagiellonian University, architecture at Kraków University of Technology and scenography at Academy of Fine Arts. Following his graduation, he continued his career in designing architecture, interiors of churches and theatre scenography. For thirty years, he has run the Department of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture of the Faculty of Architecture at Kraków University of Technology.
After 1989, he began to design and produce wooden toys and furniture for children under the Bajo brand. To date, he has designed and developed over 500 wooden toys. The majority of Bajo toys are created for children under the age of four. Bajo products are very easily distinguished from other wooden toys by their distinctive feature: rounded shapes (for example, a Bajo car has round openings instead of windows or doors). Moreover, one component of each toy is not painted in order to emphasise its uniqueness. Among Bajo's products are doll's carriages, wooden puzzles, swings, rocking horses, horses on wheels or pulled by thread, and cars of all sorts.
Bajo toys are often used for educational and rehabilitation purposes. From his his company's inception, Wojciech Bajor has collaborated with pedagogical and educational institutions committed to facilitating child development. He also worked on programmes designing special toys for children with visual or hearing impairment
Wojciech Bajor established his company as a small family business. He began manufacturing toys together with his wife Barbara, and they were subsequently joined by their daughter Anna, who graduated from Faculty of Industrial Design at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts. After completing her studies in Finland and Slovenia, she got involved in the family firm where she has developed her own line of toys under the brand Tobe. Bajo's team of designers recently got a new member - Juan Sebastian Rubiano, who studied graphic design in Colombia.
I started to design toys by chance – says Bajor in an interview for Culture.pl. – After the political changes in Poland, I was approached by a friend who told me about a German guy who was looking for someone interested in designing wooden toys for him. I made some drawings and prototypes and gave them to him, but he never got back to me. But something clicked, I started to enjoy it a lot, and we begun to think seriously about developing the idea and establishing a company.
When asked about his inspirations for the creative process of designing new toys, he can hardly point at one source of ideas.
Sometimes I think about a particular subject, and sometimes I fall for a particular kind of movement. The toy needs to be incredibly simple and systematic, just like a kinetic sculpture, only much more simple and safe for a child. When we create a toy, we adopt certain assumptions, for instance, the idea of fostering symbolic imagination.
For Wojciech Bajor creating toys has a much deeper meaning than simply one of many ways to earn money. Each design project needs to be carefully thought out and well–grounded.
We observe and react critically to everything what happens in the world around us. We think that computers fail to sufficiently develop children's imaginations. We attentively observed our children in their first years of life. We read a lot of books about child development. We wanted to be solidly prepared for the task we planned to undertake
And as we can tell, it was worth it. The toys of Wojciech Bajor have gained recognition and appreciation abroad for being ecological and beneficial for a child's intellectual and creative potential.
In 2002, one of Bajo's toys, a wooden scales with a set of weights in different sizes that can be used as an aid to teach the basic laws of physics, won a prestigious Deutcher Designpreis Award at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, one of the highest honours for designers in Germany. Subsequently, in 2003 another Bajo toy – a set of building blocks, was nominated for the same award.
Nowadays, Bajo toys are on sale in 35 countries. It main customers are Japan and China. Moreover, Wojciech Bajor receives many commissions from various companies and corporations. Among his latest designs was a small model of wooden car for Porsche.
Author: Katarzyna Zacharska, May 2014, transl.GS, 14.05.2014
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