After working as a designer in New York for over a decade, Mirosław Nizio founded his own bureau in Warsaw. Since 2002 he has proven with his every project that one may create museum expositions in many different ways.
The designer, born in Biłgoraj, a town in south-eastern Poland, studied sculpture and architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He later moved to New York, where he continued his education at the Fashion Institute of Technology. In 1989, he opened his own bureau which dealt with design (amongst others, with interior, furniture and object design). The designer was active on the American market for 13 years and in that time he collaborated with firms such as Merrill Lynch, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Oskar de la Renta.
In 2002 he moved to Poland. In an historic tenement house in Inżynierska street in the Warsaw district of Praga, he opened not only a design bureau but also a foundation dealing with the animation of the cultural life of this neglected borough and a gallery which exhibits architectural drawings, photographs and sculptures (for instance, Nizio's sculptural works in 2004).
Warsaw Rising Museum
Nevertheless, Mirsoław Nizio’s main field of activity remains design. In 2003 he had his first major success in Poland when he won a competition for the design of the permanent exhibition of the Warsaw Rising Musuem, which was being created at that time. Nizio developed the chosen proposal together with Jarosław Kłaput and Dariusz Kunowski. Their vision of a interactive multimedia exposition was an idea that revolutionized the Polish museum tradition. At the Warsaw Rising Museum, viewers don’t walk among boring display cases and boards. Instead, museum-goers are led through a specially created space which conveys the atmosphere and emotions linked to the presented events.
All these special elements of the exhibition, the unusual, very sculptural, very scenographic forms, are there so people can feel the atmosphere of the fighting capital and understand the city’s inhabitants. On its own, the showing of the collection would be too shallow. People want to touch, smell and hear a sound. Thanks to the unconventional form of the exhibition, it will be possible to convey the information about the Uprising in a very emotional way – said the designer in an interview for the newspaper Nowa Gazeta Praska.
Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Since April 2013, when the Museum of the History of Polish Jews was put into operation, everybody has been waiting for the launch of the museum’s exposition. Mirosław Nizio and his bureau Nizio Design International won the competition for the creation of the exposition, which will be prepared in collaboration with an international group of specialists, researchers, historians, anthropologists and archaeologists. The elements put on display in the museum will actively draw the viewers into the world of Jewish culture. The museum has only a handful of original exhibits, but the designer, with a group of collaborators including comic book authors and architectural model-makers, devised scenery showing the 1000-year- history of Jews on Polish soil, which makes use of “old-fashioned” elements (for instance, hand-painted images) and ultra-modern ones (touch screens, projectors, interactive installations).
Projects Linked to the 2nd World War
In 2013 the Świętokrzyskie Shtetl, a small museum documenting the life of the Jewish community of the Świętokrzyskie region, was opened. In a renovated historical synagogue, a multimedia presentation was placed next to a reconstruction of a bimah – a raised platform with a canopy, from which the Torah is read. Mirosław Nizio decided to reconstruct the ornate bimah from… glass. The result is an object which is real and functional as well as symbolic.
In the village of Markowa an investment of the Museum- Castle in Łańcut - the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Who Saved Jews in the Podkarpacie Region - is being created. The centrepiece of the exposition constitutes a glass cubicle, which will be hidden in a minimalistic solid that will resemble a country hut, the kind in which the heroic Ulma family hid eight Jews. For this, the Ulma family paid with their lives. The Mausoleum of the Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów has the shape of a chain of 10 interlocked country huts. Each of the 10 segments of this mausoleum is dedicated to a different fragment of the history of the repressions that were inflicted on rural communities during World War II. Another project by Mirosław Nizio is being realized on the grounds of the former concentration camp Gross-Rosen. Here a minimalistic, austere memorial site named Stone Hell is being created. Stone Hell will consist of a concrete corridor which will lead the visitors to the bottom of a quarry where the prisoners of the camp were forced to labour.
In 2002 Nizio Design International was a small bureau. Today this firm employs tens of people and it is realizing about a dozen projects all over Poland. Additionally, the head of the bureau is a creator of furniture. The brand Nizio Interior manufactures unique equipment in accordance to the idea 3xR: recycle, reuse, remake. The designer himself emphasizes that this activity is a tip of the hat to the family tradition: Mirosław Nizio gained his first practical skills at his father’s woodworking shop in Biłograj.
Author: Anna Cymer, February 2014
Translated by: Marek Kępa