In the autumn of 2019, residents of Seoul had an opportunity to see the exhibition of Polish design, participate in design related lectures and workshops, all in the rhythm of jazz performed by Rafał Sarnecki Quartet. The event was the 8th edition of the exhibition ‘The ABCs of Polish Design’ and its Asian premiere.
The ABCs of Polish Design had previously been shown in Gdynia, Berlin, Budapest, Bucharest, Zagreb, Vienna and the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv. The exhibition in Seoul, among the 100 objects, apart from furniture, glass or porcelain universally associated with design, also included less obvious things, such as fonts, logos, kids’ toys, a locomotive, a neon, a sailplane, a scooter and even the visual design of chocolate-covered candy Ptasie Mleczko, as well as a rubber ring used in a Polish sports game called Ringo. It presented contemporary designs along with the ones that are already considered classical; unique objects, almost like singular works of art; prototypes that never entered mass production, but also everyday objects.
The ‘ABCs’ is the most provocative, and thus interesting and inspiring attempt to extract from the history of Polish design of the last hundred years what is most worth remembering. It builds knowledge about Polish design in a rather unconventional way – wrote Piotr Sarzyński in Polityka weekly.
The exhibition combined past and present, showing the heritage of Polish design through the achievements of contemporary Polish graphic. The display comprised of 100 works of Polish designers interpreted by 25 Polish visual artists, including experienced masters of the Polish school of illustration, artists from the young and medium generation who received rewards all around the globe, as well as young, freshly graduated ones, such as Piotr Młodożeniec, Edgar Bąk or Patryk Mogilnicki.
Particularly attractive for the Korean audience were the illustrations by Małgorzata Gurowska, the winner of the Grand Prix of the Nami Island International Illustrations Concours 2017 and Iwona Chmielewska, an artists with a celebrity status in South Korea, whose picture books enjoy enormous popularity there.
Artistic interpretations of the objects were also featured in the publication accompanying the exhibition, created as a result of collaboration between the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Wytwórnia publishing house. It contained not only the designs and their visual interpretations presented at the exhibition, but also 100 stories about designers, needs, dreams, possibilities and limitations. Not only did they speak of specific designs, but it also explained the designing and creative process and the concept of design in general, as the field of art that is the closest to people, surrounding us all every day.
Peter Richter, the reviewer of the largest German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, after seeing the exhibition in Berlin wrote, referring to juxtaposing classics of Polish design with their interpretations created by contemporary graphic designers:
You can almost get the impression as if the exhibition’s aim was to prove that design is first of all creating tactile and visual memories. And the younger the designers are, the more flourishing their ironic nostalgia.
The ABCs of Polish Design was the first so extensive a presentation of Polish design in Korea. It was shown in two locations: Avenuel Art Hall Gallery in the popular Seoul Lotte World Mall, located in the fashionable Gangnam district and in Lotte Gallery in Incheon.
The exhibition, organised on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Polish-Korean relations, was accompanied by a rich programme of events, including curatorial tours, lectures on the history of Polish design, design workshops for children, as well as a jazz concert of Rafał Sarnecki Quartet accompanied by Korean saxophonist Lee Sunjae.
Programme of Accompanying Events
Lotte Avenuel Art Hall Gallery in Seoul
- 6th September 2019 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm official opening of the exhibition and curatorial tour
- 7th September 2019 11:00 am - 1:00 pm design workshops for children conducted by curator Ewa Solarz
- 7th September 2019 3:00 pm tour of the exhibition guided by curator Ewa Solarz
Lotte Gallery in Incheon
- 6th October 2019 2:00 pm concert of Rafał Sarnecki Quartet with the participation of saxophonist Lee Sunjae
- 12th October 2019 2:00 pm lecture on Polish design conducted by the exhibition curator Kkokk Lee
- 26th October 2019 2:00 pm design workshops for children conducted by Professor Jiwone Lee
Partners of the exhibition The ABCs of Polish Design in the Republic of Kore were: Lotte Department Store, Lotte Gallery, PlatformA – Art Curating & Consulting Agency and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Seoul.
The concert of Rafał Sarnecki Quartet was organised in collaboration with Jazz Po Polsku project.
The project was organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute operating under the Culture.pl brand as part of POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme accompanying the centenary of Poland regaining independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017-2022.
Dates & Venues
- 6th -29th September 2019 Avenuel Art Hall, Jamsil Lotte Department Store 6th Floor, Seoul
- 3rd -27th October 2019 Lotte Gallery, Lotte Department Store 5th Floor, Incheon Terminal, Incheon
Source: press materials, originally written in Polish by EC, 06 Aug2019, translated by AW, 28 Aug 2019