The OdRzeczy collective is mostly associated with furniture sets and accessories for children and youth. Its members are Wojciech Drab, Magdalena Guzik-Drab, and Jakub Zychowicz.
The OdRzeczy collective is mostly associated with furniture sets and accessories for children and youth
The group’s creations include the HOCKO cardboard construction blocks (the name is shared with a toy brand established by Wojciech Drab and Magdalena Guzik-Drab), the DoZo modular furniture set for teenagers produced by Paged Meble, and a technologically advanced child safety seat, co-produced with the Berber company. They consider their ability to combine various styles and their constant willingness to explore new areas to be their biggest assets.
The OdRzeczy designers think that a decent toy should engage children without restraining them, and at the same time avoid boring their guardians. This is the main idea behind the HOCKO blocks, which comprise multiple grey cardboard modules that lend themselves to constructing castles, houses, or cosmic vehicles. The cheap and easily available material invites the user to draw, paint, or paste on it. In an interview for Culture.pl, they talk about their toys:
Working on products for children, especially on toys, is a good exercise for the designer’s main tool – imagination. To allow a child’s creativity to flourish, and at the same time learn something useful, is a challenge for a designer. It is important for us to enable a guardian or a parent to be part of the play. We put emphasis on toys that bring generations together – on ones that we would like to play with. Each moment spent together is precious, and, once lost – it is irretrievable.
During their studies, the collective’s members were unsure whether they would opt for industrial design or another branch of design. Eventually, they felt that to them, “designing products is what is most fascinating and stimulating.” What is it that makes them successful? They are open-minded, unrestrained by clichés, and free to meander between various areas of design.
Some of the studio’s products have been designed in a pop style: colourful café chairs (Fameg), OHO! salt and pepper mills (their own product that initiated a line of kitchen accessories), while other objects reference old fashioned artisanship, such as their beech wood kitchen utilities produced in collaboration with the Practic company.
The group members explain their eagerness to explore new areas of design:
A designer has to be interested in the world, be able to formulate questions, define problems, and search for answers and solutions. Any new information and experience contributes to our database of inspirations. Recycling is a natural thing for human beings. We work by making associations between facts, thoughts, images, and experiences stored in our minds. We are therefore shaped by life and everything we come across in it.
Each type of project activates different areas of creative potential and calls for different experiments with materials and their possibilities. When creating arena seating for the Baltic Arena in Gdańsk (in cooperation with the company Intermet), the designers applied the technology of pressing and thermoforming to wooden waste. Their multifunctional piece of furniture Ameba is based on a construction of four cylinders and upholstery made out of elastic material, and is able to change shape according to the user’s wish. It won first prize in the International Design Award competition
OdRzeczy try to shift their work between implementing their own ideas and collaborating with large companies.
There is only one difference when working on our own projects. Everything is on the designer’s side. Decision-making, risk, responsibility, financial possibilities, and, if it all works out – satisfaction. When working on a commissioned project, we usually work on a specific subject, for a specific target group, with specifications defining materials, technology, scale, and time-frame. Most often it is the client who organizes and finances the process of implementing the product, its marketing and distribution. He also takes all the risks related to the implementation upon himself.
The designers are very hopeful about the changes taking place in the Polish design industry:
The situation of designers in a given country is contingent with the design awareness of its society. In countries where consumers like well-designed products, the companies who want to stand out invest in design and designers. In Poland, design-consciousness is still poor, but nevertheless growing. One cause for this change are the incoming Western products, which have outdone the Polish ones even in terms of price (since most of them are made in China or India). The only way in which Polish companies can win is by investing in design and new technologies.
That is also the field they wish to improve within their own practice.
Designing is a multidisciplinary occupation – the group members say. What is most important is tackling yet unsolved problems. We get bored by dull and derivative outcomes.
HOCKO online store
Author: Lidia Pańków, December 2013, transl. Ania Micińska, June 2014