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.
In 2015, as part of the FORMA Wojciech Zamecznik Festival, Pani Jurek designed store windows for a small fish shop in Warsaw named Karp’. The graphics alluded to the traditional storefront designs of the 1950s and the 1960s – simplified abstraction captured within minimalistic forms. To execute this visually traditional project Pani Jurek used modern technologies, such as printing on plexiglass and brass sheets. Installations illuminated with fish-eye lamps resembling large aquariums were hung in four store windows on Anielewicza Street.
We continuously surround ourselves with objects. Our apartments and wardrobes are overflowing with useless junk and, tricked by an artificially created desire to have, we buy more. Manufacturers offer us newer and more visually attractive things that provide an illusion of being fashionable and up-to-date with the latest trends, no matter what your style is. What does this mean for designers who are part of the production cycle? How can they tackle these issues?
These questions were addressed in Pani Jurek’s exhibition entitled Więcej niż Design (More than Design) in the Straw Bale pavilion as part of the COP24 Climate Summit in Katowice. Magda Jurek is a conscious designer who tries to produce sustainable objects with the use of recycled and natural materials. The exhibition reflected on the role of designers in a world dominated by excessive consumption.
The PSIKUSY: Remix Your Dog project consists of a book and playing blocks. It focuses on the creation of mixed breed dogs, offering numerous shapes, colours and other aspects of dogs, which only nature can create – including their personalities. The publication contains 40 cards with images of pure-bred dogs, intended for cutting and making collages. One can create various dog hybrids’ from cut-out snouts, paws, bellies, tails, fur, and patches. The multitude of graphic and painting techniques used in the project allow for an infinite number of canine variations.
Pani Jurek and Małgorzata Gurowska are the authors behind PSIKUSY: Remix Your Dog. A multi-layered text full of symbolic meaning – a mongrel manifesto written especially for this book – evokes human traits and behaviours. Illustrations for the book were created by renowned Polish illustrators such as Jacek Ambrożewski, Małgorzata Gurowska, Marta Ignerska, Pani Jurek, Edyta Ołdak, Paulina Pankiewicz, and Maria Strzelecka, as well as a 7-year-old girl: Wandzia Hermanowicz. The book is in both Polish and English, making it bilingual and suitable for children and adults alike.
In 2019, the BWA Municipal Gallery in Bydgoszcz opened an exhibition based on the PSIKUSY project. In principle, both the artbook and pads aim to teach tolerance for otherness, sensitivity to dog's harm and openness to beauty outside of known canons. Apart from the exhibition, the gallery also organized a workshop Wszyscy Jesteśmy Kolażami (We Are All Collages), during which everyone had the chance to create their own mongrel.
The exhibition Z Drugiej Strony Rzeczy: Polski Dizajn po Roku 1989 (The Other Side of Things: Polish Design after 1989, 2018) at the National Museum in Krakow, presented two projects created by Magda Jurek. The exposition led viewers through the development and gradual evolution of Polish design over the last three decades. In addition, it drew attention to its experimental sphere, which plays with technology, materials and form and is not profit oriented. The youngest generation of Polish designers often touches upon social problems and ecology in their projects. Moreover, they often operate on the borderline of different disciplines, presenting their work at festivals or in galleries, Pani Jurek is one of those designers and the museum included her Meduza (Medusa) and Memofaktury (Texture Memory) pieces in the exhibition.
Pani Jurek's latest collection, TRN, which won the Must Have Award at the 2020 Łódź Design Festival, features different furniture and lighting inspired by the works of painter and graphic designer Jan Tarasin. Tarasin’s paintings depicted objects as a series of signs and symbols – Magda Jurek TRN collection reverses this process, turning ideograms into items. The simple, three-dimensional pieces of furniture correspond to one another as if they were characters of a made-up alphabet. The collection includes mix-and-match module ceramic lamps as well as several versions of tables and mirrors handcrafted from solid wood in cooperation with Square Drip studio.
polish contemporary design
- 2020 – MUST HAVE 2020: TRN collection
- 2018 – MUST HAVE 2018: Psikusy books and blocks
- 2017 – The Most Beautiful Book Of The Year 2017 for the Psikusy Book, Polskie Towarzystwo Wydawców Książek; BIB 2017 (Biennal of Illustration Bratislava): Honorary Mention for Publisher: Psikusy Book
- 2019 – PSIKUSY, Municipal Gallery, Bydgoszcz
- 2018 – The Other Side of Things: Polish Design after 1989 (group exhibition), National Museum, Kraków – group exhibition; Więcej Niż Design (More than Design), Straw Bale Pavilion, the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24), Katowice
- 2017 – The main exhibition of books awarded in the competition (group exhibition), BIB Bratislava, Slovak National Museum
- 2015 – Kreacja i Proces (group exhibition), Institute of Design Kielce, Kielce; Polish Design Stories (group exhibition), Łódź Design, Lodz; Polish Design Stories (group exhibition), Vienna Design Week, Vienna; Do It Your Way. Polish Design in Pieces (group exhibition), Milan Design Week 2015; Spirit of Poland (group exhibition), Centro Carioca de Design, Rio de Janeiro; Viva Light, Arena Design, Poznan
- 2014 – 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
- 2013 – Babski Dizajn, Domowe wynalazki w rękach kobiet (Chicks’ Design, Household Inventions in the Hands of Women), Polish Museum in Rapperswil (group exhibition); Łąka i Las (Meadow & Forest, group exhibition), Design Trade, Copenhagen; Materia Prima Munkeruphus (group exhibition), Denmark; Sofia Design Week 2013 (group exhibition), Sofia, Bulgaria; Babski Dizajn, Domowe wynalazki w rękach kobiet (Chicks’ Design, Household Inventions in the Hands of Women, group exhibition), Cieszyn Castle
- 2012 – 3R (group exhibition), Łódź Design Week, autumn 2012; Wymiana 2012 (Exchange 2012), Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle; Rozświetlić kryzys. Dizajn światła w Polsce (Lighting Up the Crisis. Light Design in Poland, group exhibition), BB Gallery, Kraków
Author: Katarzyna Zacharska, August 2013. Updated by HSz,Sept 2020 HSz.