The LessDesign studio was founded by designers Magdalena Gazur and Alicja Patanowska, both of whom are connected with the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) in Wrocław.
Design studio founded by Magdalena Gazur and Alicja Patanowska.
The designers use the term 'design combat squad' to underline the fact that the design process is not only a pleasure, but also an everyday battle with reality. Gazur and Patanowska produce limited batches of functional objects, and art design works (one-off individual pieces for building interiors). The pair take a similar social and sociological approach to design, whereby emphasis is placed on a distinct problem and not simply on the appearance of a given object.
Objects designed by the LessDesign studio include an oddly-shaped porcelain urn bearing a photograph of the deceased (La Urna), a family-sized dining table with integrated chalkboard for kids (Family Table), a collection of fifteen porcelain dinner plates inspired by verse by Julian Tuwim (ABeCad…Ło), and a porcelain vibrator from their Biżuteria Po(d)ręczna (Hand(y)-held Jewellery) series.
The Design Combat Squad came into being back in 2010.
I remember the idea going round and round in my head when I was at the International Ceramic and Sculpture Plein-air Workshop in Bolesławiec, recalls Magdalena Gazur. I dreamt of being able to persuade a few other designers to create fun products with erotic feminine undertones — everything from amusing toys to inspiring objects (whether functional or not).
Gazur’s idea was soon abandoned due heavy workloads and other commitments. However, it would resurface later that same year during an artist residency in Fiskars, Finland. It was there that Gazur met Alicja Patanowska who, at the time, was still a student at ASP in Wrocław (where Gazur lectured); both women were connected with the academy’s Department of Ceramics and Glass. “During our long discussions during those cold October days in Fiskars, we exchanged views and ideas. I casually talked about my abandoned LessDesign project. All that was needed was the impulse. Alicja added her own vision and suggestions and that’s how the LessDesign Combat Squad got started. After that, everything went like a shot. We had plenty of ideas, enthusiasm and time to put them into practice — winter is an ideal season for getting work done in Finland,” Gazur explains.
This is why many of the studio’s works have Finnish roots. The pair’s first joint design project was the Polish-Finnish Pictorial Dictionary, which comprises A4-sized illustrated ceramic wall tiles with words in Polish and Finnish. Having got off to such an auspicious start, the pair set out to conquer Helsinki.
We began collaborating with several Finnish artists and thus were able to create an installation which was put on display at the entrance to a gallery in Suomenlinna, a so-called sea fortress comprising a group of islands in Helsinki (and a UNESCO world heritage site), says Magdalena Gazur.
After finishing their bilingual dictionary, the pair went on to create La Urna, ABeCad…Ło and Family Table.
The studio’s first exhibition took place in 2011. The designers presented their work at the Arena Design Fair in Poznań and at the Design Night Fair at the Domar Gallery in Wrocław. They also took part in an exhibition entitled Young Polish Design — selected items during the Łódź Design Festival, and at the Polish Design exhibition at Warsaw’s Centre for Contemporary Arts. In 2012, the designers picked up an award for human ash packaging: La Urna at the Art of Packaging competition in Poznań. That same year they held their first solo exhibition, where they displayed their works to date during the International Ceramic and Sculpture Plein-air Workshop at the International Centre for Ceramics in Bolesławiec.
The final months of 2012 saw great changes for both artists: Alicja Patanowska left Poland to study at London’s Royal College of Art, and Magdalena Gazur became a mum. The artists continue to accrue new experiences and themes, and are now learning to work together from a distance.
More on their webpage: LessDesign
Author: Katarzyna Zacharska, September 2013, English translation: Garry Malloy
- Arena Design, Poznań
- Solo exhibition, International Centre for Ceramics in Bolesławiec.
- Polish Design, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
- Young Polish Design – selected items, Łódź Design Festival
- About Design, Gdańsk
- Arena Design, Poznań
- Design Night, DOMAR Gallery, Wrocław
- Art for a home: a home for art, Hala Ludowa, Wrocław
- Incrementum, Suomenlinna Island, Helsinki, Finland
- Polish-Finnish Dictionary, Fiskars, Finland
2012 - For human ash packaging (La Urna), Art of Packaging competition, Poznań