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Polish Design History

It is time for giving contemporary creation historical context. Pushing beyond national borders, today’s fiercely energetic Polish design scene hasn’t forgotten its heritage. Emblematic of how history...
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Photography by Bartek Bobkowski
It is time for giving contemporary creation historical context. Pushing beyond national borders, today’s fiercely energetic Polish design scene hasn’t forgotten its heritage. Emblematic of how history can influence contemporary design to foster new narratives, The Centre of Modern Design’s one-of-a-kind archive – founded in 1978 by Wanda Telakowska – which she later donated to the National Museum in Warsaw – comprises more than 25 thousand objects. Such a collection testifies to the dynamism of modern Polish design, between 1920 and 1930 – with such examples as the Ład Cooperative, known for their burnt-pine furniture, kilims, Jacquard textiles and pottery. The archive alsoreveals Meko modern colour-infused furniture, influenced by De Stijl and the Bauhaus, modernist Warsaw-based architects and hidden secrets from Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Wrocław. The Golden age of Polish design, so-called ‘contemporary’ style, was especially important from 1956 to 1965, under the directive of the Industrial Design Institute and a new generation of designers including Teresa Kruszewska and Andrzej Nehring. The 1950’s were a highly creative period, where screen-printed textiles designed by folk artists and designers were joined by the advent of new glass and ceramics industries – emerging from the 1940‘s to early 1950‘s. Włocławek handpainted faience was followed by printed earthenware – everyday-use glass manufactured in Silesian factories and designed at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Wrocław. Porcelain figurines defined Polish ceramics between 1957 and 1964, taking inspiration from Henry Moore’s organic sculptures. Such oeuvres continue to inspire contemporary designers and are still produced by Ćmielów. Now that the ‘designed and produced in Poland’ motto is on a come-back, Polish designers and studios are reinterpreting icons, thanks to brand-, product- and designer-based platforms such as Nasz. Some are exploring the artistic heritage of Neoplasticism, with new materials and innovative ideas for domestic and reclaimed public space. With today’s freedom of speech, the Polish design scene is more then ever, innovative – accounting for a strategic position within Central Europe. A special tribute goes to Oskar Hansen and his followers, who have continuously advanced the ‘open form’ theory – as a source of humane creativity, merging and redefining the boundaries between fine and visual arts.
The Palace of Culture and Science of Warsaw, 1952-1955, before and after 2005
The Palace of Culture and Science of Warsaw, 1952-1955, before and after 2005
The Tower of the International Fair of Poznan near the New School of Form, 1929
The Tower of the International Fair of Poznan near the New School of Form, 1929
The Popular Hall or the Hundred Years Hall in concrete, Wroclaw one of 13 Polish monuments on the Unesco World Heritage List, 1906
The Popular Hall or the Hundred Years Hall in concrete, Wroclaw one of 13 Polish monuments on the Unesco World Heritage List, 1906
Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / Paulina Olowska's glass painting covers the Museum
Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / Paulina Olowska's glass painting covers the Museum
Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / Detail of the facade
Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / Detail of the facade
Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / Slavs and Tartars
Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / Slavs and Tartars
Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / Untilted by KAtarzyna Przezwanska
Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / Untilted by KAtarzyna Przezwanska
Museum of Modern Art warsaw / Slavs and Tartars
Museum of Modern Art warsaw / Slavs and Tartars
Late 1950's ceramic figurines and sketches from the Cmielow Porcelain factory
Late 1950's ceramic figurines and sketches from the Cmielow Porcelain factory
Late 1950's ceramic figurines and sketches from the Cmielow Porcelain factory
Late 1950's ceramic figurines and sketches from the Cmielow Porcelain factory
Modern Design Archive / National Musem Warsaw / Wladyslaw Wolkowski, named the Michel Ango of wicker, honoured with the golden medal during the international exhibition in Paris, 1937, commissioned by the royal Belgian court, 1957, selection of wicker furniture - from trays to baskets, unique rythmic patterns designed in 1950's, 60's and 70's. The Olkusz museum owns an extensive Wolkowski wicker collection
Modern Design Archive / National Musem Warsaw / Wladyslaw Wolkowski, named the Michel Ango of wicker, honoured with the golden medal during the international exhibition in Paris, 1937, commissioned by the royal Belgian court, 1957, selection of wicker furniture - from trays to baskets, unique rythmic patterns designed in 1950's, 60's and 70's. The Olkusz museum owns an extensive Wolkowski wicker collection
Unique 1960's and 1970's glass designed at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Wroclaw
Unique 1960's and 1970's glass designed at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Wroclaw
Unique 1960's and 1970's glass designed at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Wroclaw
Unique 1960's and 1970's glass designed at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Wroclaw
Touch exhibition, photographs by Teresa Gierzynska (1947) at Pola Magnetyczne gallery in Warsaw, with both gallery owners Gunia Nowik and Patrick Komorovski.
Touch exhibition, photographs by Teresa Gierzynska (1947) at Pola Magnetyczne gallery in Warsaw, with both gallery owners Gunia Nowik and Patrick Komorovski.
Marlena Kudlicka's 'divided dot' set design for the Changing the Field of View, Modern Printing and Avant-garde exhibition 2014, Museum of Art Lodz
Marlena Kudlicka's 'divided dot' set design for the Changing the Field of View, Modern Printing and Avant-garde exhibition 2014, Museum of Art Lodz
Marlena Kudlicka's 'divided dot' set design for the Changing the Field of View, Modern Printing and Avant-garde exhibition 2014, Museum of Art Lodz
Marlena Kudlicka's 'divided dot' set design for the Changing the Field of View, Modern Printing and Avant-garde exhibition 2014, Museum of Art Lodz
Marlena Kudlicka's 'divided dot' set design for the Changing the Field of View, Modern Printing and Avant-garde exhibition 2014, Museum of Art Lodz
Marlena Kudlicka's 'divided dot' set design for the Changing the Field of View, Modern Printing and Avant-garde exhibition 2014, Museum of Art Lodz
The Neoplastic Room, open composition by Wladyslaw Strzeminski in 1948, Museum of Art, Lodz
The Neoplastic Room, open composition by Wladyslaw Strzeminski in 1948, Museum of Art, Lodz
A Better Tomorrow by Jaroslaw Flicinski
A Better Tomorrow by Jaroslaw Flicinski
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