From furniture and textiles to ceramics and even ships, design schools across Poland represent the country’s robust design heritage. The Polish Design: Tomorrow is Today exhibition brings this heritage to Milan for Salone del Mobile, showcasing the breadth of Polish innovation in design.
During this year's Milan Design Week, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, under its brand Culture.pl, and the Academic Design Center will unveil an installation at the SUPERDESIGN Show at Superstudio Più Più which represents a rich and varied design scene from art schools across Poland. The Polish Design: Tomorrow is Today exhibition presents the best of Poland’s art academies, each in the context of their unique regional traditions determined by geography and local natural resources. The exhibition is curated by Dorota Koziara, a Polish designer and curator based in Milan, and features designs from eight Polish art schools: Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, Poznan University of Art, Academy of Art in Szczecin, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław.
Polish Design: Tomorrow is Today aims to introduce an international audience to contemporary design in Poland. Rather than a cross-section of works and projects, it looks at the specificity of design teaching in Poland and identifies its consistency as a defining factor of the country’s strong design culture. The theme of the exhibition, designed by Dorota Koziara Studio, is based on the idea of open books, each telling a story about the universities and art schools represented. Each of the exhibited pieces is complemented by elaborate, modern multimedia presentations.
Historically, each Polish art school had its own specific character: the Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, an important textile centre, was famous for its fabric and clothing design; the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw specialised in glass and ceramics, while Poznań University specialised in furniture design. Today the differences between universities are blurred, but each academy retains its distinct character. Polish Design: Tomorrow is Today serves to celebrate the unique heritage of each institution.
The design schools
Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, thanks to its location on the Gulf of Gdańsk, is famous for designing ships and vessels. At the exhibition in Milan, the vessels will be shown in the form of a multimedia presentation, as well as a reduced scale object – Paddle Boat – Do It Yourself by Robert Mrowiec. Jewellery is also represented as a key feature in the rich history of Gdańsk, which is located on the Amber Trail.
Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź helped to initiate the exhibition. Situated in a historically important centre of the textile industry, the academy is lauded for its clothing and fabric design. A display of theatrical costume designs and reports from diploma fashion shows merge to represent this rich tradition from a leading institution in the field.
Famous for its animation and graphic arts studios, The Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, will showcase animated film and illustration, as well as design related to social issues and the revitalization of cities. Both themes are historically relevant for Katowice, a region known for animated film and one of the most industrialised regions of Poland. The innovative projects on display from this academy include the Fetal Heart Rate Detector by Klaudia Gołaszczyk-Mieszko, presented into cooperation with the Silesian Medical University in Katowice and the Foundation for Cardiology Development in Zabrze.
The oldest art school in Poland, The Industrial Form Faculty of Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow will showcase a future-focused project called MARS 2030. A customizable living space created for manned spaceships, the installation is inspired by the potential of a 2030 manned flight to Mars. The project was created at the Faculty of Industrial Forms of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, in cooperation with NASA Ames Research Center and consultation with Jessica Marquez, PhD and Jurek Parodi, PhD.
With a broad design heritage behind it, Poznan University of Arts will present furniture design, graphics, product design and architecture.
Similarly, Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław will present glass and ceramic design, as well as examples of transport design. A leader in glass and ceramic design, the institution boasts a strong history across design disciplines.
The Academy of Art in Szczecin, Poland’s newest art academy and known to combine visual arts and design with music studies, will showcase interior design projects.
Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts will present furniture and contemporary industrial design.
Art & design education in Poland
A multimedia presentation of the artistic educational system in Poland ties the exhibit together, linking the installations from each university into a cohesive representation of Poland’s educational facilities in both art and design. In Poland, design is primarily studied in academies of fine arts, which have university status and offer courses at three levels: Bachelor, Masters and Doctorate. Polish arts academies also grant honorary degrees of PhD Honoris Causa to outstanding personalities from the world of culture, art and design. Such recipients have included international design guru Alessandro Mendini, who was given the title by Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, and Peter Greenaway, honoured by the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk.
At the state level, design teaching in Poland, from architecture and interior design to industrial design and graphic design, is characterised by a constant reference to visual arts, providing students with a broader knowledge of the design language and an important foundation for their future work as designers. Education in the field of art history and cultural studies provides emerging designers with a groundwork that will enable them to best meet the needs of society as it evolves.
Polish universities conduct research in collaboration with business and research centres representing other fields, incorporating knowledge and influence from beyond the world of art and design. One valuable initiative among Polish art schools is the organisation of regular workshops and design workshops in the field. These trips provide the opportunity for creative meetings, discussion and collaboration with students from universities all over Poland and abroad. Videos from these workshops will be showcased as part of the Polish Design: Tomorrow is Today exhibition.
The exhibition is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the Regional Operational Program for the Łódź Region for the years 2014-2020, and funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Milan is the event partner. Polish Design: Tomorrow is Today is organised under the honorary auspices of several mayors from Poland's largest cities: the Mayor of Łódź, the Mayor of Szczecin, the Mayor of Katowice and the Mayor of Gdańsk.
Polish Design: Tomorrow is Today
April 4th – 9th, 2017
Superstudio Piu PIÙ, via Tortona 27
SUPERDESIGN Show, Milan
Organisers: Academic Center of Design with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute operating under the Culture.pl brand and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Milan
Curator: Dorota Koziara
Visual Identification: Marcin Markowski, PhD
Source: press materials; compiled by NR, 28 Mar 2017