Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Cheers - Magda
Journalist visiting RWLab Exhibition in Hospice d'Havré
+ welcome on my blog dizajnum (Polish one)
Friday, July 31, 2009
Although the standard of design quality in Poland can vary, companies are gradually becoming aware of the role that design plays in achieving market success. Design is starting to become a recognizable profession. Some high‑circulation magazines and publications – such as the 2+3D quarterly – the increasing number of competitions and exhibitions, the professional organizations – the Industrial Designers’ Association and the Association of Applied Graphic Designers – as well as some specialized institutes – the Institute of Industrial Design in Warsaw and the Silesian Castle of Art and Enterprise in Cieszyn – are all making their mark. There is no precise data concerning the number of designers in Poland. Estimates speak of 500 people professionally active in industrial design, presumably not taking into account the numerous design workers who have no formal education in this field. There are a handful of larger several‑person design companies active on the market. It is dominated, however, by small studios of two or three people, who also do graphic design and interiors to keep their heads above water – sometimes executing them as well. Around 320 graduates emerge every year from seven design departments at academies of fine arts, and a few private colleges. They receive education in both graphic and industrial design. Most wind up in advertising, some do applied graphics, and some interior architecture. Government agendas show insufficient initiative in promoting design, but even here the first winds of change are being felt. The discipline has now been written into the state’s plans for economic development.
The thriving economy and ground‑up activities are breaking critical mass. Design is working in favorable circumstances in Poland for the first time in many years. Much seems to indicate that we can look to the future with optimism.
The generation of designers that grew up in the late 80s and the 90s brought a special kind of creativity and a critical view to their colleagues’ work from the previous decades. The common practice of taking inspiration from the West after the gate of freedom opened in the early 90s has been replaced recently by more individual approaches to design. The emphasis is on modern technologies on the one hand, and drawing inspiration from everyday objects with their own history on the other.
Czech society is now more interested in professional design. Internationally recognized events like Prague Designblok, the International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno or the prestigious Czech Grand Design annual award ceremony (since 2006) have established public recognition for the most influential designers, and informed the public on new trends in Czech design. This has also generated higher interest in the Czech mass media, and prompted new clients to work with designers.
The importance of personal experience in design methodology defines the current Czech design scene. Relationships between objects in living spaces and the quest for new forms with optimal functionality are the most important goals for the middle generation. This contrasts with the desire to communicate the political culture and public climate via personal experience, which typifies the work of the younger generation. This contrast is illustrated in our selection of a “dialog of two materials” – glass and porcelain – in the work of two well‑known Czech design studios: Studio Pelcl and Qubus. Both, however, enjoy finding new possibilities and pushing the limits of design.
Design in Slovakia has gone through some strenuous development over the last eighteen years. The new socio‑political situation in 1989 spurred radical changes. The industry structure has changed: some older factories have merged into foreign concerns, and no longer participate in the development of their own products; others simply shut down. The new companies established were small at first; middle‑sized businesses, previously non‑existent in Slovakia, today comprise 90% of the industrial structure. In these circumstances, it was difficult for designers to get jobs in ordinary serial industry production, and many focused on limited‑series production, often involving handwork. In the fields of furniture, home accessories, wooden toys or fashion, a number of designers also served as producers and sale managers.
Design has been applied in the production of ultralight planes, as well as in outdoor sports equipment and electrical heaters. There are a number of extraordinary Slovak designers working in the design studios of the world’s top car manufacturers. The new economic conditions have led to a graphic design boom, in advertising and electronic media.
In this period it was important to stress the role of design in industry, and in 1991 the Ministry of Culture established the Slovak Design Centre, which organizes design competitions, awards design prizes for the best products and publishes a design magazine: “Designum.” The development of Slovak design in recent years has brought both hope and disappointment. Its real economic and cultural implications allow us to be optimistic.
Design became a profession in Slovenia in the period after World War II (back when the country was still part of Yugoslavia). The Slovene design field is notable primarily for individual designers whose high‑quality work, even in those early years, was recognized and awarded both at home and internationally. In 1992, a year after the country won its independence, the capital, Ljubljana, earned a place on the world’s design map when it organized ISCID’s 17th international congress, which bore the significant title “At the Crossroads.” In the decade that followed, a new generation of designers, trained in the early 1990s, took the lead. In independent Slovenia, the relatively undernourished economy again found a market niche that allowed designers to work and collaborate once more in the development of design products. Today there is an increasing general awareness of design in Slovene society, although we still cannot speak of a unified national design policy that would allow us to set the goals we need to take full advantage of what design offers. With a well‑considered design policy, we could transform design into more than simply “good business.” The advantages of design are many, and not just in economic terms: design can change the way we live, work and, most importantly, think. With a good Slovene – or hopefully, even European – design policy, we would at last be able to acknowledge (and make use of) all the alternative and rarely exploited cultural and social benefits of design.
The large‑scale industry of socialist Hungary fell to pieces in the beginning of the 1990’s, causing a shock in the field of Hungarian design and applied arts. Studios involved in the development of the vehicle, electronic and furniture industry ceased to exist, as did the markets for these industries. The innovative field of industry, which experienced its “golden age” in the eighties with the birth of products such as the Rubik’s cube and the Ikarusz buses, was not replaced by new studios; and education was not able to react to the new capitalist system. The world of objects was characterized by import and loads of cheap mass‑produced articles lacking in cultural value. The small studios were inexperienced in self‑management, and the major industries that survived viewed designers as dispensable commodities. Among the few exceptions were graphic design studios employed by the advertising industry, and some interior designers. Since the turn of the century design has been regarded differently; design exhibits began to be held, the Hungarian Design Council came into being, and then the Design Terminal, and design academies have been established. This attitude introduced a much more flexible, manager‑like approach to design, which was more open to international trends and visualized its future through foreign publications, tenders and conscious media use. Among these “new wave” concepts, the most successful model seems to have been the bilateral relationship between the students at Moholy‑Nagy University of Art and Design and the design departments of leading industrial syndicates in Western Europe.
The real design world in Austria is at the same time an unreal world, overlaid with historical images and fuzzy definitions. The majority of people would connect the splendid period of the turn of the 19th/20th centuries with design in and from Austria, but this perception has little or nothing to do with the present design world in Austria.
The few things it still has in common with this period should not be underestimated, because Austria finds itself once again at the center of design activity and involved in a lively exchange of ideas with its eastern neighbors. Communication and healthy competition are enlivening the scene in all directions, and have given Vienna a new vitality, after the city had almost suffocated from its addiction to preserving and conserving its beauty. Joining the European Union 13 years ago opened the first doors and broadened horizons. Today’s young Austrian designers are very consciously choosing to be based in Vienna or Austria, but are of course also active throughout Europe and further afield.
The few things that can be compared with the turn of the century include the fact that Vienna is again positioning itself as the center for elaborate and technically‑manufactured luxury products, while the industrial reality of Austria has little to do with this glorified memory. Both production and design in the industrial and consumer goods sector – whether fire engines, compost‑turning machines, drones, welding robots, motorcycles or sports and leisure‑time products – have often gained a position at the top international rung, together with equally successful industrial design bureaus.
REAL WORLD LABORATORY - Central European Design
“Real World Laboratory” is presenting designs from six countries of Central Europe: Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary. We are looking at the design from this region through the lens of the relationship between experimental design and industrial production. Conceptual design is treated as an intellectual testing ground, a source of new ideas; industrial production, on the other hand, economically justifies the designer’s work. Each country will present exhibits of a selected type: Austria – furniture, the Czech Republic – glass and porcelain, Poland – lighting, Slovakia – transportation, Slovenia – footwear, and Hungary – architectural components.
The exhibit is meant to familiarize the design of the countries of Central Europe, emphasizing its most trademark attributes. This region (with the exception of Austria) is generally viewed as being backward in terms of industrial development. As a result, our design work is regarded as being behind the times compared to that of highly industrialized countries. Of late, however, both the economy and the design of Central European countries have been dynamically developing, and the local designers are abandoning tried-and-tested designs and are increasingly putting forward new and innovative products. The significance of these small producers is worth appreciating, and the work of the designers themselves should be noted; their fresh and unconventional solutions are getting noticed by others, and stand out on the Western markets. This exhibition presents the changes taking place in Central European design. It is also meant to show design as a factor spurring cultural development in these countries. A factor which also has a significant impact on the shaping of their modern image.
"Real World Laboratory - Central European Design" - an exhibition coordinated by Polish curators was created especially for The International Design Biennial in Saint-Étienne 2008 and it was shown in the framework of one of the main presentations: FLIGHT NUMBER TEN (15-30 november 2008, Saint-Étienne).
Experimental and industrial - two faces of design
Experimental design and industrial production – the two radically different faces of design presented at the “Real‑World Laboratory” exhibition – two designer attitudes that complement, support and enrich one another. Conceptual design, which is an intellectual field of experimentation, a source of new ideas; and industrial production, which economically justifies the designer’s work, have here been brought into dialogue. A presentation of this sort demonstrates the eternal drive toward synthesis that lurks in the applied arts and in design – disciplines combining art and technology, beauty with functionality, and craftsmanship with innovation.
“Real‑World Laboratory” presents designs from six Central European countries: Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. These countries – with the exception of Austria – continue to be perceived as places where industry is insufficiently developed, and where design is backward compared with highly‑developed countries. The Platform for Central European Culture has facilitated co‑operation which bore fruit in this exhibition, causing – I hope – an increasingly perceptible need for these countries’ images to change, and in particular for opinions on their design to be brought up to date.
The exhibit thus links the six above‑mentioned countries into one “body,” but we ought not to look for common attributes of the exhibitions or designers. This presentation avoids comparisons and emphasizes facets that are strong and characteristic for each region. Each country presents objects of a selected type: for Austria – furniture, Slovakia – transportation, Czech Republic – glass and porcelain, Slovenia – footwear, Hungary – building materials, and Poland, the project coordinator – lighting. Our goal was not to present the best developing branches of industry, but rather to display a characteristic phenomena. Not everyone knows, for example, that Poland is one of the world’s largest furniture producers, and yet we have chosen to present lighting – a field in which we find an innovative approach that does a good job of representing our country – a certain kind of “coping with” adversity. In the porcelain designs we see the typical “Czech sense of humor,” in the Austrian furniture a sense of calm and self‑assurance, in the Hungarian designs an affinity for material and a search for new technological solutions etc. The selected exhibits speak volumes about their countries of origin, and also about their approaches to design, particularly the varying understandings of experiment and innovation we observe in the designs in question.
On the basis of this exhibit, no one should find common attributes in the design of the countries of Central Europe. And this is how it should be. They all show what is exceptional about them, what they can be proud of. There is no sense in forcing analogies, because in spite of their geographical proximity, each of these nations has gone through a more or less stormy history, and represents a slightly different economic and cultural state. A common Europe makes equal opportunities, but should not tempt us to erase cultural boundaries. Design helps us to transfer intellectual values to everyday material culture, and the more diversity we maintain in this era of globalization, the richer our future world will be.