The world’s major newspapers, the most recognisable fashion houses: Filip Pągowski’s works are used by the giants of this world. Shaped by the Polish reality of the 60s and 70s and the melting pot of cultures in New York, Pągowski creates graphic designs full of energy, memorable with their bold shapes, vitality and dynamism.
Graphic artist; studied painting, illustration, and poster design.
The designer graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Growing up in an artistic family, graphic art has always been close to his heart: his father Henryk Tomaszewski, one of the founders of the Polish School of Posters, and his mother, Teresa Pągowska, a painter, were important figures in the Polish art world. He studied painting, illustration and poster design. Pągowski sometimes worked with his father; a result of this cooperation was, for example, the design for the cover of the Ty i Ja / You and I magazine.
His illustrations have appeared in prestigious newspapers and magazines like The New York Times, Le Monde and The New Yorker. He has worked on a wide range of graphic projects: from article illustrations, to logos, and even portraits, such as that of Osama bin Laden. In the 90s Pągowski was involved in the creation of decorative initials for weekly publications. The shape of the initials was supposed to indicate the content of the story, hence, for example, the double I at the beginning of a love story, in which the letters were joined together as a couple in a tight embrace.
One of the most significant projects in Pągowski’s career was his collaboration with the Japanese fashion house Comme des Garçons and its founder, Rei Kawakubo. In 2000 the designer developed the patterns used in their main collection.
There was a strong reaction from customers ranging from words of admiration to order cancellations by some department stores in Saudi Arabia. Rei Kawakubo loves such controversy. This was one of my first projects for CdG. And one of the most exciting ones. – remembers Pągowski.
In 2002 the artist created the famous PLAY logo for Comme des Garçons: the red heart with black eyes became a cult trademark of the brand. He returned to it in 2006 when he prepared a second, slightly modified version: this time the heart was thinner and the red was replaced by green. Since 2010, Pągowski develops print designs for the BLACK fashion line, used on all sorts of clothing and accessories. His prints are characterised by bold, thick lines, present in yellow and black squares and spots, as well as leering eyes and colourful flowers.
In addition, Pągowski prepared print designs as part of the Mondo Cane project for the Japanese brand Medicom. The black-and-white motif was formed by the silhouettes of several dogs, and then applied over materials and various items, from bags to slippers.
The designer is also associated with the Polish brand UEG led by Michał Łojewski, for which he prepared a special collection of clothes with human silhouettes against a white background characteristic of the brand.
Pągowski’s creativity has flourished in many parts of the world; he lived in New York for many years. However, since 2007, the vast majority of his commissions come from Asia: mainly Japan, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Orders vary greatly: from works for trade centres to projects for the Chinese sportswear giant Li Ning.
Recalling his teenage years in Poland Pągowski stresses the important role of shortage in the creative process:
Growing up in Poland in the sixties and seventies I learned how to make use of restrictions, or even how to enjoy them, as well as create images from scratch, and not just use existing ones (...).
In 2014, Pągowski took part in the Designing Polska – Design in Poland exhibition, which presented works by some of the best Polish illustrators and graphic designers. The exhibition, co-organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, took place during the 12th edition of the most prestigious event in the field of design: the London Design Festival. Famous Polish artists were invited to participate in the four-day exhibition, including Filip Pągowski, Agata Endo Nowicka, Studio Noviki and Ania Kuczyńska. The works created by these artists have contributed to creating a comprehensive, ever-changing picture of contemporary Poland.
Visitors at the exhibition had an opportunity to see how Polish self-expression combines with art. In addition to the graphic designers' portfolios, the exhibition was divided into the following sections: book design, children's books, magazines and self-publishing, posters and selected fashion projects in which graphic design and illustration play a key role. The exhibition opened at Tent London.
In 2015, Filip Pągowski created a shoe pattern for the global footwear company Ash. The graphic designer described the project:
I wanted it to be visually interesting, but also surprising, so I developed an artistic look with colours and graphics. I thought the concept of the ‘Tweed’ design would translate well onto a sneaker and liked this idea of playing with various elements that make up the pattern such as the herringbone. In contrast, the ‘Flame’ design is more graphic, with colours of white, black and yellow, and bigger design elements.
At the beginning of 2016, Canadian rapper Drake released a new single entitled Summer Sixteen– the cover art was designed by Pągowski. That same year, as part of a sweeping global trend, Commes des Garçons released a set of proprietary emoticons. FilipPągowski designed a set of 24 emojis, some holiday themed, with the PLAY logo.The emojis could be downloaded for use with the iPhone iMessage.The artist's next well-known project was a collection of t-shirts, released as part of a collaboration between Nike and the NBA in 2017.Pągowski created a new logo for each of the 30 teams playing in the American basketball league; the designs then appeared as limited-edition Nike t-shirts. Pągowski wanted each of the emblems to refer both to the teams’ original logos as well as the places and things associated with them. This is how a cowboy, similar to one from old movie posters, made his way onto the Dallas Mavericks shirt and why Pągowski treated the Denver Nuggets so literally and depicted the team with pieces of fried chicken. Two years later, the graphic designer was invited to cooperate with the Samsonite brand to reintroduce their iconic aluminium suitcase model, enhanced by Pągowski’s addition of drawings that imitate stickers.
In 2019, IKEA released a short-term rug collection as part of the5thedition of their ART EVENT project. This time the Swedish chain of furniture stores opted for handmade rugs, designed by eight of the most interesting designers in the world, including FilipPągowski and Virgil Abloh– creative designer for Louis Vuitton and Off White. These woven works of art were a combination of avant-garde fashion and modern design. Pągowski focused on minimalism and created a design using black and white, repetitive patterns arranged in an original chequered pattern. In an interview with Design Alive, Pągowski spoke of the experience:
Several artists from around the world have been invited to the project. In my case, the work required a lot of attempts and corrections, because I was designing a rug that was to be made with a traditional Middle Eastern technique. As always, I started working on paper, and then scanned the drawing – it's much easier to alter and create different versions on a computer. However, it turned out that the computer design does not work in the realities of the workshop in India, where the rugs are woven according to a technique that's probably thousands of years old! Therefore, we had to revise the project, which was very interesting to me. I learned a lot during this job, especially that in this case that technology dictates a lot. It turned out ok. I know that IKEA was very pleased. For me it was also a very pleasant cooperation. Last year, they came to me to make a video – we walked around Warsaw, they were very curious about me and the city, my life and growing up in Poland. It's cool that the human element is so important for such a tycoon as IKEA.
polish school of posters
- 2014: Designing Polska – Design in Poland, London Design Festival; Henryk Tomaszewski – Filip Pągowski. Ty i Ja / You And I., Ściana Psa czy Suki, Warsaw
- 2013: Mysia 3, Warsaw
- 2012: Kto Ty Jesteś? / Who Are You?, Łódź Design Festival
- 2011: Funky Gallery, Warsaw
- 2007: Happy Living: Fly Time Installation, Museum of Tomorrow, Taipei, Taiwan
Sources: hypebeast.com, www.2012.lodzdesign.com, Author: Agata Morka, April 2014. Updated by HSz, April 2020.