They are innovative, functional, intuitive and engaging. Their creators are young entrepreneurs who've successfully joined the world of culture together with new technologies. Here come the best Polish mobile apps competing not only in the Polish market.
DailyArt – the art of business
According to Zuzanna Stańska, “you can live without culture and art, but a life like that is definitely poorer”. Stańska, born in 1987, studied history of art (which she was truly interested in) and international relations (which was supposed to let her earn a living). She gave up her job in a PR agency and decided on another way of building her future. The turning point was a 3-month internship at the Musei Capitolini in Rome in 2010, where she discovered the museum's new technologies for the first time. In Warsaw she became interested in start-ups and she launched her own company, Moiseum, which provides innovative technologies to museums and cultural institutions.
Their first app, My Warsaw, was created for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and enables users to see places in the capital connected to Janusz Korczak's life. Although the app received very positive feedback, there were no more offers for Stańska. She invested all her savings for her own original project, DailyArt, which turned out to be a great idea. At the Geek Girls Carrots (an international community of female IT professionals ) in Rzeszów, Stańska said:
I thought that people in Poland had a complex about art. They are afraid of art because they don't know it, and they don't know it because no one is taught it. That was the reason I created DailyArt, an app that sends a photo of a work of art every day, together with an interesting description, such as why Van Gogh cut his ear off. The app is extremely easy and rich in content.
DailyArt connects minimalism with high quality. One new piece of art is published (European or American in the English-language version) every day, together with a short description, the work's original size and location, and the author's biography. Descriptions are written by professional art historians so instead of encyclopedic notes, they feature interesting facts and anecdotes, but most of all: knowledge in a nutshell. The app can be downloaded for free on iOS or Android systems and a 'pro' version (for iPads), with some extra features like a browser for viewing reproductions and making galleries of your favourite paintings.
The English version of DailyArt was selected by The Next Web service as one of the 12 best educational apps of 2012 and has 300,000 users, mostly from the US. Zuzanna Stańska found herself at 13th on the list by Brief magazine of the 50 Most Creative in Business. She also won of the Young Creative Entrepreneur Award in Culture, and her name is on the New Europe Top 100 Challengers 2014 list. She cannot complain about a lack of work or ideas.
Archimapa – from paper to phone
A new app appeared Under the Moiseum brand at the end of February 2015, called Archimapa and created for the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. However, before local people and tourists got a chance to walk through Warsaw's streets looking for architectural features on their phones' screens, a prototype appeared in the form of a series of paper maps. Grzegorz Piątek, who presented the interwar-period maps, said:
We will not contend for the Baroque with Rome, or for the Renaissance with Kraków. But when it comes to 20th-century architecture, there are not many places as interesting as Poland.
The popularity of this project made the its creators digitize the plans of the city to attract an online audience. The multimedia guide includes 7 paths through the city divided into sections connected to different topics. Antympa, for example, shows the city from a child's point of view (and that of the map's author, Sylwia Chutnik), but it is not a tour only for the young. The tour of Jewish Warsaw created by Beata Chomątowska challenges the imagination. Grzegorz Piątek and Jarosław Trybuś give us three routes: architecture from 1918 to 1939, Warszawa Niezaistniała (plans made before the war that were never carried out), and Warsaw's socialist realism. Maria Sołtys and Marek Kuciński follow the traces of architectural heritage from between 1945-1989, whereas Paweł Giergoń looks for mosaics of the communist period left in old houses, cafés, and bars.
All the maps are marked with points of interest with short introductions. We can also see a list of the places presented together with information about their architects and designers, and details on the places' availability. Most of the over 400 places included are illustrated and complemented with geo-location data that helps one find unknown places and their exceptional stories. Archimapa is available in Polish and English as a free app for Android, iOS, and Windows systems.
Designing furniture and utensils for your own home has never been this easy. Tylko turns users into designers and lets them customize any product for their own use. The company's offerings are presently limited to just three products – the Ivy bookshelf, the Hub table (created by Yves Béhar – an influential designer who's worked for Apple, Google, and Prada) and the Totem Mill kitchen accessories by Krystian Kowalski – but constant development is planned.
How does it work? After downloading a free app for iOS, you can choose a template, change height and width, colours, and material (when it comes to the bookshelf, you can place particular shelves as you wish). An algorithm in the app takes care of the appropriate proportions and generates the price according to the furniture size and producing process. The next stage is getting it right for your apartment (no measuring required!). Thanks to augmented reality, you can view the furniture in any space and make corrections if needed. The last step is ordering and waiting for the package (from two to several weeks).
Tylko was launched by designers Hanna Kokczyńska and Jacek Majewski, Benjamin Kuna (entrepreneur), Mikołaj Molenda (architect), and Michał Piasecki (specialist in parametric design). Jacek Majewski said in an interview for Puls Biznesu magazine:
The name Tylko is simple and easy to remember abroad, but it also includes our strategy. We will exclude some steps in the production and distributional chains, and stick to the app, factory and clients; without any additional intermediaries.
The app is available in Germany, Austria, the UK, and Poland. Americans also invested in the company: in 2014 Tylko, back then known as CSTM, won the Launch Festival in Best Technical Achievement category. In September 2015 Tylko was named one of the most innovative projects of the London Design Festival.
Guides4Art – a personal guide to culture
Guides4Art is a mobile guide that helps users organise museums tours. Łukasz Kaleta, the creator of the app, said in an interview for ekultura.org:
Some time ago, inspired by the film Kod Matejki by Radek Kotarski from the Polimaty YouTube channel, I went to the Museum of the 19th Century at the Cloth Hall [in Kraków]. Then the idea came: it would be nice to create a tool which gives info about a particular painting in an interesting way. [...] There is a lack of descriptions and catchy facts that help you understand and feel art.
The businessman and founder of the ART-Tech company (supporting business in e-culture) couldn't find an app which was a real source of information about all Polish museums. A separate app for each museum would not make much sense, so he decided to make Guides4Art, a fledging personal guide to culture and art which is constantly being developed.
Using the app, you can plan your tour through a nearby museum if you have access to the internet and GPS, or with one click check out exhibition spaces in the most remote parts of Poland. All the institutions on Guides4Art have short descriptions, details about location, opening hours, and works in their collections. The app is created not only by specialists in new technology, but also by curators. Paying for the app lets the museum add audio guides or manage the object lists in several foreign languages. Additionally, users can make suggestions and have a real impact on the app's development.
The app enables one to take an interactive walk through Polish museums, is free of charge and available on Google Play, and soon on the App Store.
Enter the world of culture with Going
Theatre shows, club concerts, small cinema screenings, gallery exhibitions, workshops and meetings – Going provides information on cultural events taking place in the next several days, including where to find tickets. It is convenient, easy to use and visually attractive. Its only fault is that it is presently only available for people in Warsaw. This is soon to be fixed, as the creators want to expand to include all of Poland's biggest cultural centres. Investors from Hong Kong and Berlin are also interested in the app.
The idea came at a small concert by an American band in Kraków, where there were more musicians than crowd members even though the ticket cost only a few zlotys. That is how Maciej Gastoł remembers it. He created the app together with his brother Piotr. Both of them prefer high-quality events rather than mainstream ones, and they collaborate with renowned institutions and artists.
After installing the free app, events can be listed according to previous choices, as well as sorted by category. There is an option to buy tickets for plays and concerts which is perfect for those making plans at the last minute and for tourists. Deciding where to go becomes easier thanks to short descriptions of events. Tickets can be bought in 4 easy steps and a printer isn't necessary as the app provides a QR code.
Mobile Wrocław 2016
Wrocław is doing its best to present its cultural offerings and attract an international audience. For its role as European Capital of Culture 2016, work was initiated on a city guide in the form of a mobile app which would provide easy access to artistic events. Although Wrocław 2016 is in the testing phase (the app will be available for Android and iOS), it is still worth a closer look.
The app is not a guidebook for typical tourists but for alert participants of the cultural scene. It features illustrations of places important for the history of the city, and tours prepared by the European Capital of Culture curators. These present literature, music, film, theatre, performance, and visual arts from an untypical point of view. There is also a guide to European Literature Night and tours through Wrocław's bridges.
It also features a programme of events connected to the EcoC, which will be updated (including theatre plays, concerts and other artistic projects) making it easy to find specific places of interest. Users can listen to Radio Wrocław Kultura or view galleries of images (most of them taken by the creators). The app is supposed to work even without internet access.
Wrocław 2016 already looks promising and it is still being developed. The project was created by students of the University of Technology in Wrocław, namely Michał Bielawski, Mateusz Sulima, Piotr Płaczek, and Tomasz Cegiełka, who decided to make the app as an alternative way of completing their diplomas in IT. Three months of intensive work and two meetings with the Office of the European Capital of Culture were enough to make their ideas come true.
Sources: moiseum.com, biznesistyl.pl, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, TVN Warszawa, tylko.com, pulsinnowacji.pb.pl, startupinsider.pl, guides4art.pl, ekultura.org, goingapp.pl, Rzeczpospolita daily, wroclaw.pl, pryzmat.pwr.edu.pl, own materials. Written by Agnieszka Warnke, translated by ND, December 2015