Poles, Swedes display identity through design
Separate exhibitions that opened on Aug. 8 by the Swedish and the Polish embassies offer people here a chance to learn about the different cultural approaches to design in the Scandinavian and eastern European countries.
One exhibition “Unpolished — Young Design From Poland” resembles a small laboratory, filled with objects such as stools made of wood wrapped around tree trunks, and a fragile-looking low chair.
They are all prototypes, not for commercial sale, and are made by designers younger than 40 years old. Curator Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka commented that for many designers, their work is an expression of, or search for, identity.
Indeed, the identity of Polish design is often debated among Polish designers themselves, and their shared history helps them to find answers.
In 1989, Poland became a democratic country, ending 45 years of Communist rule. Under the grip of the Communist Party, artists and designers had very little freedom, if any at all.
Asked for her definition of Polish design, Jacobson-Cielecka said, “I’d say clever and rooted.”
Clever in the sense that the designers think carefully to find what their design is about; and rooted in the sense that all the materials used are ordinary and are easily-found.
For Sweden, things are very different. With an established reputation, many people are aware about what typifies Scandinavian design, clean lines and simplicity.
Products at the Swedish exhibition are displayed in a very professional manner, with big brand logos visible and are available to buy.
Two Swedish designers were there to give a special lecture on their work, with their profile demonstrating at what point Scandinavian design is.
Thomas Sandell is the chief architect for the Swedish Pavilions at the Yeosu expo and a designer whose chairs are sold at IKEA, the international furniture chain store based in Sweden.
Interior designer Lars Bolander is also the world’s leading Scandinavian designer, whose home in the U.S. was once selected by the Wall Street Journal for coverage.
“We have a long tradition of building our own furniture, and you don’t want to be too complicated.” Bolander said while talking about where the simplicity in Scandinavian design comes from.