Meet The Designers Behind Poland’s Most Memorable Logos
default, Polish Exhibition of Graphic Symbols, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2016, photo: Bartosz Stawiarski/Adam Mickiewicz Institute, center, ogolnopolska_wystawa_znakow_graficznychmuzeum_sztuki_nowoczesnej2016fot._bartosz_stawiarski_mat._iam.jpg
Logos are the graphic representations of brands, companies, organisations or events. They are but a simple symbol and yet convey so much. Poland is known for its rich graphic design history – and iconic logos are part of it. But who created Poland’s most memorable logos?
Creating a logo is one of the most difficult challenges a designer can face: it’s a graphic sign which must incorporate an interpretation of the brand name and a symbol of a feature that identifies the company, agency, organisation, product, service, project or event. It has to make an impression. These Polish graphic designers made their mark.
A graphic designer and poster artist, Karol Śliwka (1932-2018) was a leading figure in the history of contemporary Polish graphic design.
This versatile artist designed posters, packaging, book covers and postmarks. However, he is best known for his logos. He is recognised in many publications, Polish and foreign, as a prominent logo designer. Logos designed by Śliwka have long become landmarks of the Polish visual landscape. Word has it, his peers would opt out of competitions which he entered as they knew they were no match for him.
The logo of the Polish bank PKO BP is colloquially known by its author’s name: Śliwka. Karol Śliwka’s best-known works include the logos of the Institute of Mother and Child, the textbook publishing house Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne, the National Library, the Society of Friends of Warsaw, and the once popular footwear manufacturers Radoskór and Kobra.
Michał Łojewski, a Polish graphic designer of the younger generation, founder of White Cat Studio and the fashion brand UEG, said in an interview with the Gazeta.pl website:
Had Śliwka been born in the USA rather than behind the Iron Curtain, his name would be mentioned in one breath with Paul Rand, the famous ‘Papa Logo’ who designed logos for the biggest US brands which are in use to this day.
Due to the broad popular awareness of the logo of CPN (Centrala Produktów Naftowych, or Headquarters of Petroleum Products in English) in Poland, the brand has been earmarked for revival. A corporate logo that everyone recognises is halfway to business success. The CPN logo was designed by Ryszard Bojar (1932–2017) in partnership with Jerzy Słowikowski and Stefan Solik.
An industrial designer and architect by education, Bojar worked with the Art Research Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, the Industrial Design Institute, the monthly Projekt, and the Association of Industrial Designers which he co-founded. Ryszard Bojar is the co-author of the visual information system of the Warsaw underground (together with Roman Duszek).
Logo design was one of many disciplines he practised. The logos he designed for CPN, FSM and Predom are icons of contemporary graphic design.
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I was approached by Xymena Zaniewska in 1958, soon after Moda Polska was established. There were no professional trademark designers back then, the first trademark and packaging provider only emerged later… And there was no professional equipment, at least I had none. All I had was a sheet of drawing paper. I drew the logo, a miniature version of it and the name.
These are the words Jerzy Treutler (born in 1931) in an interview with Aleksandra Boćkowska on the weekend.gazeta.pl website describing the origins of one of the best logos in the history of Polish graphic design: the logo of Moda Polska (Polish Fashion).
Although the company (established in 1958) closed down in 1998, its logo with the unforgettable sparrow has remained recognisable and beloved for its charm.
Born in 1935 and educated at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, the graphic designer Roman Duszek has lived and worked in Poland and abroad. He was active in Paris in the 1960s and has lived in the United States since the mid-1980s. He is a successful logo designer and educator (originally at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, later at the School of Art & Design of the University of Illinois and at the University of Missouri.
Duszek’s best-known designs include the refreshed logo of LOT Polish Airlines, the brand La Vache qui Rit and the logo of the Hala Mirowska trade hall in Warsaw. Duszek is the co-author of the visual information system of the Warsaw underground (together with Ryszard Bojarski) and the author of the visual identity and information system of the Victoria Hotel in Warsaw.
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Witold Janowski (1926–2006) studied in Poznań before he moved to Gdańsk, where he worked as an educator and head of the Graphic Design Department for three decades. A member of the Polish Poster School, he is mainly known as a poster artist. Janowski designed book covers, postmarks and exhibitions. He was the graphic designer of the monthly Architektura from 1967 to 1970.
Międzynarodowe Targi Książki (International Book Fair) logo, designed by Witold Janowski, photo: archives of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute
His best-known designs include the logos of the Industrial Design Institute, the International Book Fair and the National Book Fair.
Like Witold Janowski, Jerzy Cherka (1920–1982) was mainly a poster artist with a passion for painting. Even though he was best known for his posters and illustrations, Cherka designed several well-known logos. The logo of the publishing house Iskry, the quality marks ‘Q’ and ‘1’, the logo of Petrochemia Płock and the publication series Biblioteka XXX-lecia Poezji (30th Anniversary Poetry Library).
The economic conditions of the profession of graphic artists and designers changed dramatcially after 1989 with an influx of new clients and the predominance of the open-market reality. The demand for logos grew and young Polish artists successfully continue the 1950s–1970s tradition of excellence in visual identity design.
Mamastudio, among their many different fields of activity, also works on visual identification and brand design. Its most well-known creations include the logos of jewellery brand Yes, the insurance giant Warta, the TV channel Domo, Radio Zet, the University of Technology in Gdańsk and famous Polish fashion designer Robert Kupisz. The Pomniki Historii (History Monument) logo designed by Mamastudio designates Poland’s most prominent historical monuments.
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UVMW founders say they develop the ‘visual strategy for brands,’ which comprises logos as well as other symbols and elements of visual identification that make companies, initiatives and organisations recognisable.
UVMW has developed comprehensive visual identities, including logos, for the National Audiovisual Institute, the Hestia Artistic Journey competition, the Stary Browar in Poznań, the Beton Foundation and the ING Polish Art Foundation, among others.
White Cat Studio
Established by Michał Łojewski, and his brother Paweł Łojewski, in 2001, White Cat Studio designs visual identities. The award-winning studio is currently Poland’s leading visual identity design studio.
Michał Łojewski often emphasises his passion for minimalism in design and quotes the modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s motto: ‘less is more.’ Simple, concise, clear communications are a prerequisite of creating a good logo, which may explain Łojewski’s success. He is the creator of the logos of PZU, Alior Bank, Gazeta.pl, Filmweb.pl and the Industrial Graphic Designer Association STGU.
Founders of Kraków-based Studio Otwarte say:
We have developed and revived more than a hundred brands of products, companies, institutions, locations and events; small, medium-sized and large; commercial, cultural, public and non-profit.
Their designs include logos of large clients, such as the City of Rybnik, the energy company Enervia and the National Digital Archives, as well as cultural events and small companies, such as the Jewish Culture Festival, the companies Bracia Sadownicy, Bartek Witek and the Sursum Corda association.
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BNA’s philosophy of business and design in its founders’ own words:
In a world where nobody trusts flat images, we reach the deepest essence of the brand and let it find its shape. We are interested exclusively in clear and credible concepts that can draw attention, gain recognition and be liked by strategic target groups in a long-term perspective.
BNA have designed logos of large brands, including the retail chain Żabka, mBank, the wp.pl and Onet websites and the book and media store Empik. They have developed strong visual identity for clients by revamping the image of many brands, including House, Lotto and EB.