This bunch presents everything from functional eco-minded furnishings to dreamy poufs, lamps and jigsaw carpets at major design fairs around the world through 2013.
The Warsaw-based design studio was founded by Anna Łoskiewicz-Zakrzewska and Zofia Strumiłło-Sukiennik as an answer to their pursuit of playfulness and discovering the unexpected in everyday objects. Their approach can even be called subversive at times as they tread the line between functionality and artistic conceptualism. Most importantly, their projects maximise the user-friendly aspects of their products and public works projects, integrating the potential consumer to encourage people to 'shape their own surroundings'.
This DIY approach to design has led to innovative approaches to room dividers, with their Space Separator and Prism projects incorporating a range of creative materials to make arranging one's personal space a fun, creative project. Their latest project, Plaster Patch is a series of metal sheets in the shape of plasters meant to "patch up" a space however the user cares to arrange them. It will be shown at the Maison & Objet markets in Paris in 2013.
For this hard-hitting design team, their task is about solving problems and creating thoughtful symbols. Their link to the Holy City is apparent in many projects, such as the Jerusalem necklace of overlapping charms that represent the complexity of the city, and their Awateef project, which revives the basket-weaving traditions of Arab women from the Israeli village Kfar Manda to create a series of baskets and lamps that marry tradition with trendy design. The group's founders Marta Florkowska-Dwojak, Magdalena Juszczak, Dorota Kabała and Maya Ober draw their inspiration from multiculturalism and eclecticism, which they translate into witty, functional designs and projects in the public space.
The group, originally from Wrocław, debuted with a recycling project that put a new spin on glass salvaged from vandalised bus stops. Wzorowo's Broken Glass Jar is a compact fluorescent lamp filled with pieces of broken mirror and glass shards that reflect light in an unexpectedly awesome way. The key to their practice is aesthetics, which gives way to a novel way of using traditional materials such as glass and porcelain while maintaining the material's fine character.
The group's Agnieszka Bar, Karina Marusińska and Agnieszka Kajper participate in all stages of the technicical process to make the most out of any given idea or material. Their projects lie somewhere between design and artistic creation as they interact with users through a play of references, switching up the expected function of objects, For this trio, objects are akin to "toys and riddles", making humorous references to Poland, its past and its future possibilities.
The Warsaw-based sculptor and designer creates objects that are not only inspired by nature, but that incorporate nature directly in the design. The results are such whimsical furnishings as a chair made of ivy, a chair with roots, a sofa made of hay, a bed of cereal, a table of earth, a set of rocking stairs. In short, Grunert's passion is chairs. He admits he dreams "of fields sown with chairs that grow just like grapevines in France". His unusual designs are most often found in galleries and shops as he has not yet taken the initiative to go into larger-scale production.
The Gdańsk-based design group - Małgorzata Malinowska, Filip Ludka and Tomek Kempa - thinks of itself as one creative body with three heads. Their projects put a fresh spin on typical shapes and materials to create funky, functional objects inspired by nature and characterised by a minimalist, geometric-inspired form. Experimentation is at the heart of their practice, with their most recognisable projects bringing in a smattering of awards, from the very geometric Falon modular seat and Lampania lamp to the tongue-in-cheek Moose table. Projects in the public space include a Totem tribute to Nobel Prize winner Maria Skłodowska-Curie - a symbolic representation of the chemical element polonium that she discovered, installed along Warsaw's most popular promenades.
As another one of Poland's best design teams to showcase their wares at Paris Design Week 2013, the Monomoka brand manages to create award-winning objects that are both useful and eye-catchingly creative. Founded by twin sisters Monika and Katarzyna Gwiazdowska - later joined by Monika's partner Piotr Saladra - from Wrocław, they specialise in funky seats and ottomans made of crocheted linen, wool and cotton yarns. They have 13 unique items to date, each a splendid combination of comfort folklorish charm, shapes drawn from nature and a whimsical form that is often suggestive of something it isn't - such as the Sleeping Mice pouf, which was singled out in the finals of the 2012 contest held by the Society of British Interior Design and goes on to make the rounds in Paris at the Maison & Objet design fairs in 2013.
The brilliant Polish scientist Maria Skłodowska-Curie has served as inspiration for yet another hot Polish designer. The brand's Magda Jurek garnered a great deal of blog attention for her Maria S.C. lamp - an elegant, modernist-inspired chandelier made of test tubes that can be filled up with plain or coloured water, or even plants, to create one's own custom version. Her unique approach to design is, as she puts it, a matter of "tinkering", finding that the inventions inspired by necessity can often result in some quite bizarre objects. Having been brought up in Kraków in the communist era, a minimalist approach to creative innovation is her method.
The design duo from Łódź creates whimsical rugs and carpets especially for the littlest clients on the market. Their series of carpets-jigsaw puzzles was launched with the production of the award-winning project Pastylki (Pills) in 2004. The felt base has a pattern of cut outs that children (and adults) can fill up with coloured discs to create their own design. The possibilities are endless, with hours of fun for kids who like to take control over their surroundings.
The duo soon followed up with more carpets along the same jigsaw concept, incorporating fun shapes like cars, animals or traditional folk patterns. As they grow as designers, their designs become more complex, more embellished as they incorporate metal, wood, jets and rivets while their designs take on new challenges to challenge the eye with funky patterns and optical illusions.
Hailing from Żywiec, the southern Polish city known for its excellent beer, this artist, sculptor, curator and designer has headed his own design workshop since 2001 and is one of the few wood-turners of his generation. He grew up in the countryside, chopping down trees with his dad and making the timber into furniture and folk-style nativity scenes. Today his projects are rooted in wood-turning, which has led to a series of waterproof pieces of sleek bathroom facilities made entirely from wood, including sinks, bathtubs and shower cabins. His goal is to inspire other up-and-coming designers to experiment with the possibilities that wood provides and the beautiful objects that can be made from it.
Despite being the oldest of the bunch at 69, Marek Cecuła continues to make an impact on contemporary design with his award-winning projects and ongoing educational initiatives for young designers from all over the world. Originally from Kielce, Poland, he's traveled the globe from Israel to Brazil to New York City. It was in NYC that he founded his design company Modus Design and lectured at the prestigious Parsons School. He was Visiting Professor at the National Academy of the Arts in Bergen before returning to Poland to set up the Design Centrum Kielce and the Ćmielów Design Studio in 2012.
Today Cecula is Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art, London and in this capacity he brings together Polish and British design students with workshops that forge new ideas on the design front. Many of these ideas are brought to fruition at the renowned Ćmielów ceramics factory via the on-site Ćmielów Design Studio. His own work bridges the gap between design, craft and sculpture, drawing out the unique aesthetics of everyday objects in clay, wood and ceramics. Cecula often uses natural imperfections and the effects of aging to create objects that are meaningful in a broader sense, making a statement about time, anthropology and function.
One of his most meaningful pieces is the Menora (2007), an oversized replica of the traditional Jewish candelabra that sinks into the concrete at the very spot where a former entrance to the Warsaw Ghetto had been located. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, his goal was to create an open-ended piece that would allow the viewer to determine whether it is a symbol of the fall of Jewish culture in Poland, or its revival.
Find out more on Marek Cecuła and his Art Food project - Between Plate and Palate - Interview with Marek Cecuła
Source: Culture.pl Resource Library, own sources, author: Agnes Monod-Gayraud