Moderna / industry + craft

A few days before the closing of the Polish exhibition Moderna / Industry and craft currently being displayed at the Polish Institute in Sofia, we catch up with one of its two curators: Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka, who worked with Paweł Grobelny on the project. The organizer behind this exhibition is Muzeum Regionalne w Stalowej Woli.
What is the message of the exhibition in a nutshell? 
The main aim of the exhibition is to show how modernist way of thinking where industrial design meets crafted detail in works contemporary world, and how it effects the project. We present modernism as a way of thinking not styling.
What prompted you to tackle the question of Modernism? 
What is its contemporary interpretation through the selected designs in your exhibition? 
What does Modernism mean to you?
Exhibition partner and producer is Regional Museum in Stalowa Wola. And Stalowa Wola is a town in south east Poland which has been built from scratch in 1930ties. In the middle of forest, visionaries of development of industrial Poland, between first and second World War decided to place there still industry and a modernist town around. Not because they like modernism, but because it was a time when modernism has been a style to built. And this town very well preserved is a pure example of modernism, in its best version. Perfect proportions, human scale, balanced combination between mass / industrial and individual detail. The Museum deals with a history of that place, want to restore value and pride of this design tradition.
So for working with the Museum for years it was a natural continuity of former projects: Unpolished, which was about new polish design after transformation and Polished Up, illustrating first successful cooperations between designers and industry. In terms of that modernism means kind of maturity. Yes, Polish design matures.
/textile: Falbanca/
How did the selection process develop? 
What things do you look for when considering a project to represent?
What is the projects’ concept role in conveying the message of the exhibition?
 Both of us, Pawel Grobelny and are active on design scene of year, so our knowledge of designers / designs / products / market is up to date. So when we define the criteria (in this case it was: craft meeting industry meeting designer meeting craft all three had to be present), and we do a list of objects / designers / products. Than we look at them together. Both are very important for good exhibition: internal and external cohesion. If the exhibition is cohesive on the very basic visual level you just want to know more, to understand the the essence.
To what do you attribute the positive developments in the Polish design sector?
Time? Maturing? Industry understands better and better that original, unique design can be an added value. And that properly conducted design processes help to avoid mistakes, loose of money, failure. And designers are better prepared to do it. They understand better that the role of designer is to became business partner for investor. to share responsibility. But there is still long way to go.
Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 7.06.05 PM
/Pleated Vase Set (Plisowanki) by Agnieszka Bar for Manufactured Culture/
You are very much connected to the development of a new form of design education in Poland – can you already see the impact of its implementation? 
What are your short term ambitions in relations to design education in Poland?
 Yes, I am the artistic director of School of Form, in Poznań (Design Faculty at University SWPS). It is a very new school, started in 2011. In the shortest words it is design and humanities educational concept. We teach students to ask the right questions, to be human centred, to research. We connect new technologies like robots, parametric, arduino with hand craft: wood textile ceramics. And it works: we had so far two graduations, and the third one is just starting in few weeks and our firs alumni are doing very well. Winning competitions, being invited to international conferences and getting jobs or approved for MA at really good schools like DAE, RCA etc
We just got an accreditation to start with our own MA, so we do in 2017. Last year we opened part time studies and English path where we have amazing very international group. But for me the most significant part is that our activity and presence is influencing state schools, and whole scene is changing.
Do you think it’s easier for Polish creatives to get work these days? 
What challenges do they face, if any?
I think it is. Slowly. The awareness is better. Design becomes a job, not a hobby.
Do you have a favourite object in the exhibition – why?
 Hard to say. When I do exhibitions I keep my likes and dislikes away.
Has the industry changed for better or worse?
 Industry has changed and is changing constantly because the world is changing. Industry has to make sense. Otherwise it will collapse. So we cannot avoid the changes, even if we think they are for worse. He have to accommodate them. And we have a choice who we are cooperating with: is it fair trade? Is it ethical, responsible, sustainable.
What’s currently on your professional reading list?
 Juhani Pallasmaa, The Thinking Hand. Amazing book.
What design events would you be recommending to visit during 2017?
 I believe in smaller and more focused events. I would love to have a time rather to go to St Etienne Biennale or Kortrijk than Milan. And welcome to Poland, for Gdynia Design Days this summer (30.06- 09.07) and Łodz Design Festival this autumn (03-08.10).
/Maria Jeglinska “Drawn Object”/


At the beginning of the new year, we throw backwards glances and reflections while considering a hopeful step into 2017. 

2016 has been our second year as Studio Komplekt and we were enormously lucky to partner with role-model designers, companies, institutions and organisations in order to achieve an important progress in what we do. Overall we had quite a diverse and interesting menu of projects:



We kicked off the year with Bold & Beautiful a one-day event in February for our favourite local producer of natural and clean food – Harmonica.




In March we had the pleasure to arrange in a pop-up exhibition GILTIG by IKEA in Gallery 2.0 and lead the discussion on the presentation of the collection. At the end of August we were invited to host the launch of the new IKEA catalogue in Sofia.




Spring was busy and culminated in several activities in June, starting with Absolut Creative Space – the first of its kind festival in Sofia on creativity and sustainability hosted by Absolut Bulgaria. Our task was content creation and coming up with a variety of formats like lectures by international and local creatives (among whom one of the founders of the famous It’s Nice That creative platform), demonstrations, special projects, workshops, exhibitions, discussions and various presentations. You can read more about it here.




The international festival on design and visual culture One Design Week contacted us to arrange Bulgarian design on the vitrines of 13 Plovdiv shops on the central street – Additions – new Bulgarian design on a shop window. We also had the honour to continue for a second consecutive year the exhibition Diploma project. This time we put a focus on the extremely talented illustrator Maria Nalbantova and her Black Bears for White Days, White Bears for Black Days pop-up picture book.



It has been an utmost pleasure to select some of our favourite book titles on design for a great project called Design Bookery, initiated by Next-DC and thoughtfully supported by Lidl Bulgaria. It was presented in Plovdiv and Sofia during the summer months.



After a short break during which we both managed to road-trip in Italy and walk on the fantastic Floating Piers by Christo and get architectural insights by the 15th Architecture Biennale in Venice, we got back on intense work schedule and collaborated with the international summer program for creative thinking and design processes Know-How / Show-How, supporting them for their PR and moderating the Podium RE-Connect / Object in Context with participants like Linda van Deursen (Graphic design studio Mevis & van Deursen, Amsterdam), Dr. Clémentine Deliss and Jurgen Bey (Studio Makkink & Bey, NL).

Autumn hit us with two major projects: the self initiated Take Away Sofia and the commissioned by Next-DC and Finlandia vodka Cabinets of Wisdom.



In Cabinets of Wisdom we had to think of a concept in which Finnish artists ( Antti Kalevi | Eero Lampinen | Iina Vuorivirta | Kirsi EnkovaaraMarjukka TakalaSaana ja Olli) interpret Bulgarian proverbs. The resulting works varied in form and character but were united by the exposition design — six contemporary cabinets of curiosity constructed by Bulgarian stage artist Eva Ventova. The exhibition was open for ten consecutive days and was a total blast, accompanied by cocktails and music, of course.


Take Away Sofia is a self-initiated project, supported by the Sofia Municipality Culture Program 2016, which saw the realisation of eight prototypes for new souvenirs for Sofia. We invited current designers working in various fields of the profession like fashion, textile, illustration, graphic design, jewellery, ceramics, etc. in order to present their views on the contemporary image of the Bulgarian capital in the ubiquitously spread form of the souvenir. The project took the form of an exhibition, which was shown at Prague’s DesignBlok and in Sofia where it was accompanied by lectures, showcases and workshops. Take Away Sofia has the ambition to evolve into a fully-functioning brand. Rolling our sleeves and making it happen in 2017.



On our journalistic side, we saw three of our articles on the covers of LIGHT. And continued (even though not so regularly as we wished) to fill in our magazine section.



Thank you for hanging out with us. We will continue to contribute modestly but productively to developing and supporting a more meaningful and working design scene here. Among our most aspiring projects for 2017 is the launch of an on-line dynamic platform for presenting Bulgarian designers and architects called MELBA, once again supported by the Sofia Municipality. Another major stepping stone for our work in 2017 is the opening of GENERATOR – a new model space for collaborations where transformation happens through design. We are realising it with our partners from Creative Mornings SofiaCreative Shower. Stay tuned. Exciting times are ahead.

Wishing you great adventures and good deeds in the new year.