Poland’s design scene is having a moment. For decades the eastern European country has supplied such companies as Vitra, Kinnarps and Fritz Hansen with high-end manufacturing. In fact, Poland is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of furniture and design, up there with China, Italy and Germany.
Now, a new generation of local talents – including Maja Ganszyniec and Marcin Rusak – are nurturing homegrown design with new explorations in furniture, ceramics, textiles and more. Here are five talents we have our eye on.
1 Maja Ganszyniec, the furniture designer who gets millennials
At 36 years old, Maja Ganszyniec is a main player in Poland’s contemporary design scene. Ikea returns to the Warsaw designer time and again for her take on what today’s design-minded consumers want and need most; for example, her durable glass plates for PS2017 are moulded without a bottom rim so that they rest more comfortably on the lap, accommodating our ever-more casual dining habits.
She is also bringing a sophisticated edge to local brands, including Comforty, for which she made the Mellow chairs with their smartly tailored upholstery.
2 Marcin Rusak, the rising star of art-design
Thirty-year-old Marcin Rusak is bringing baroque back. The London-based Warsaw native has garnered attention for his Flora collection of tables, lights, cabinets and sculptures, whose Caravaggio-esque chiaroscuro effect he creates by submerging real flowers in black resin. In 2017, he won the Rising Talent Award at Maison et Objet, nominated by none other than British interiors maven Ilse Crawford.
3 Malwina Konopacka, the collectible ceramicist
There’s a dash of Memphis in Malwina Konopacka’s expressive vase collections. Her ceramics include the Corbusier-inspired La Cité edition of 15 vases (and 30 plates), which bear the circular depressions and hand-painted motifs that characterize her vessels and lend them their eminently covetable pomo vibe.
4 Tartaruga, the conscientious kilim makers
Emerging on the design scene in Łódź, the dynamic duo of Tartaruga – Wiktoria Podolec and Jadzia Lenart – are reclaiming the Kilim tradition, with a modern twist. A pop-art feel is woven into the rugs and wall hangings they create with wool from sheep bred in the mountains of nearby Koniaków. Two percent of the profits they make selling each unique handmade piece goes to the Refugee.pl Foundation, which supports asylum seekers and fights racism.
5 Luka Rayski, the radical graphic artist
Making an even more pronounced statement on the current state of affairs in Poland, graphic designer – and Parsons grad – Luka Rayski has created a design whose power is evident in its embrace by thousands. His protest poster is a play on the word KONSTYTUCJA, or Constitution, printed in black, with the TY (meaning “you”) and JA (“me”) emphasized in white and red. The design’s one-word-says-it-all message is now an iconic rallying cry for Demokracja Ilustrowana (Democracy Illustrated), the initiative that commissioned it, and the citizens taking to the streets to defend democracy.