Pani Jurek (lit. Mrs Jurek) is a brand created by Magda Jurek, a 34-year-old Krakow-born artist and designer. Jurek — or, to use her artistic pseudonym, Pani Jurek — has her own, unique approach to design and creates multi-functional objects with which users can interact.
Pani Jurek — has her own, unique approach to design and creates multi-functional objects with which users can interact.
Jurek studied painting at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. Prior to that, she had attended an artistic high school in Krakow. It was by chance that she took up designing at the beginning of 2010. Her first projects were strictly commercial. 'This has now become my form of expression: it is a game, a mind exercise, and also my day job,' says the designer. Magda Jurek grew up in the hard times of communist Poland and she likes to draw inspiration from that period.
In a conversation with culture.pl the artist said:
I was brought up in a housing project where there was very little space. We had to condense everything and that’s probably the origin of my love for clever solutions, but also for the absurd. I like to come up with practical ideas, I like to tinker, I like to work with my hands. I believe that the saying 'necessity is the mother of invention' is true, but I also know that that the solutions inspired by necessity can be quite bizarre. Objects can be really funny.
Despite a love of simplicity, colour also plays an important role in Jurek’s works. This is clearly an result of her background in painting. The artist does not have a solely functional approach to objects and believes that, in the right context, even an uncomfortable chair may provoke deeper thoughts. That is why she tries to design objects that "aren’t static, aren’t limited to their stereotypical functions and that are capable of interacting with their users". Action, motion, change, interpersonal relations and the relationship between people and objects are what matter most. The objects designed by Pani Jurek may be enhanced in countless ways and sometimes they may even be individually created by their owners.
Lamps make up the greater part of her designs. Maria S.C. is a chandelier constructed from test tubes. The shape of this object is reminiscent of traditional art deco forms and its name refers to the Polish scientist, Maria Curie Skłodowska. "Maria" offers its users many possibilities for visual experimentation. The test tubes may for instance be empty or they may be filled with coloured fluids.
Pani Jurek’s Plika lamp comprises a bundle of colourful strings that are attached to white earthenware. The lamp’s form resembles Rastafarian dreadlocks but its name was inspired by the term Plica Polonica, a term which describes the Polish plait hairstyle, a curiosity of historical Poland. The bundle hanging from the ceiling is supposed to ensnare evil forces — the popular belief was that the Polish plait protected its owner from diseases. Plika humorously alludes to the stereotypes of old. And, as with other designs by Pani Jurek, Plika also allows users to make their mark: it may be knotted, tousled or braided.
Loop Line is a lamp with a very long chord, allowing the user to walk around the entire apartment with it. It may be hung from the ceiling or fixed to a wall. Hook Line is the same lamp with an additional hook for hanging.
When the designer became a mother she created the series Perfect Mom, which had a mother with a moustache as its logo. The objects from this series are supposed to help fulfil the increasingly demanding requirements of motherhood. For this project the designer has already created a self-assembly lamp from crayons, and a tablecloth house that won the Must Have award at the Łódź Design Festival in 2012.
I believe that every object for grown ups should have a piece of the world and a fragment of the aesthetic of children, because stereotypes are less developed there. Similarly all items for little ones should be designed with the utmost seriousness. The infantilization of childhood is a horrible thing - says the designer.
Pani Jurek is active in the Z Siedzibą w Warszawie (With Headquarters in Warsaw) society. This organization, led by Edyta Ołdak, is involved in cultural education and social actions. Together with the society Pani Jurek realizes projects linked to urban spaces and projects for the blind. She co-created two integrative books: Wielka Architektura i Kolory Niewidzenia (Great Architecture and the Colours of Not Seeing) and Chrząszcz brzmi w ryżu (The Beetle Chirps in the Rice). The book on architecture became the topic of a workshop in which blind and seeing children are brought together. The second book also played an important role in an educational event. In this case the program revolved around linguistic issues and was addressed to Polish and Vietnamese children. Together with Edyta Ołdak and Jan Damięcki, Pani Jurek designed a 'touch tapestry' – a kind of a multi-functional toy for the blind children from a centre in Laski.
Tactlies series that she created in 2015 enable bling kids to play a simplified version of a popular Statki (Ships) game. Pani Jurek has smartly chosen different types of hair, further differentiated by its height, to help blind users easily navigate the game. Husaria, an army made of wood, is based on the very same concept, here different members of the group have different brushes shapes tactically defining them. Pani Jurek further experimented with this concept in Memofaktury, a memory game with 10 different types of textures used on the surface of the boards. Widnokrąg on the other hand is not only a toy, but also a diagnostic device helping to spot eye sight deficiencies among kids. It both helps to teach one the Braille alphabet and to understand such abstract notions as “one half”, “one fourth”. Moreover, thanks to its tactile fonts, it also teaches how to recognize human emotions and the way they can be expressed.
“Kreacja i Proces”, Institute of Design Kielce, Kielce
“Polish Design Stories”, Łódź Design, Lodz,
“Polish Design Stories”, Vienna Design Week, Vienna
“Do It Your Way. Polish Design in Pieces”, Milan Design Week 2015
“Spirit of Poland”, Centro Carioca de Design, Rio de Janeiro
“Viva Light”, Arena Design, Poznan
“Łąka i Las”, Design Galeriet, Stockholm
“Let's play. Kids design from Poland”, Izmir, Turkey
"Nikto ne je doma", Designblok, Prague
"MUST HAVE", Łódź Design Festival, Lodz
“Spirit of Poland”, Sao Paolo Design Week, Sao Paolo
Babski Dizajn, Domowe wynalazki w rękach kobiet (Chicks’ Design, Household Inventions in the Hands of Women), Polish Museum in Rapperswil, June – August, group exhibition
Łąka i Las (Meadow & Forest), Design Trade, Copenhagen, August 2013, group exhibition
Materia Prima Munkeruphus, Denmark, July 2013, group exhibition
Sofia Design Week 2013, Sofia, Bulgaria, June 2013, group exhibition
Babski Dizajn, Domowe wynalazki w rękach kobiet (Chicks’ Design, Household Inventions in the Hands of Women), Cieszyn Castle, April 2013, group exhibition
3R, Łódź Design Week, autumn 2012, group exhibition
Wymiana 2012 (Exchange 2012), Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, September 2012
Rozświetlić kryzys. Dizajn światła w Polsce (Lighting Up the Crisis. Light Design in Poland), BB Gallery, Kraków, February 2012, group exhibition
Must Have 2012: Perfect Mom Tablecloth
Author: Katarzyna Zacharska, August 2013. Update, April 2016, AM.