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The 1960s went down in history as an era of revolution. And although we most often identify it with upheavals within the political and social sphere, changes were also taking place in the artistic world, such as in industrial design. The explosion of creativity can be linked to the political thaw in Easter Europe. A generation of artists, open to the world, launched a completely new style, thus revitalizing and dramatically changing the essence of design in Poland.

IWP: the Genesis of Change

All the stories revolving around the Polish design of the last century would not be without the creation of the "IWP" or, in other words, the Institute of Industrial Design. On October 1, 1950, it was set up by the then Minister of Light Industry Eugeniusz Stawinski, deciding to transform the previously operating Bureau for the Supervision of Production Aesthetics. Former employees of the BNEP, most of them took on the new institution. Wanda Telakowska, known as the Joan of Arc of Polish design, became deputy director for artistic affairs at the Institute. She faced, then, quite a challenge. She had to adapt the previous, quite liberal program to the new situation.

"Everyday beauty for everyone. Good designs of mass-produced products are an economic value. Good designs are also a cultural value," she pursued these ideas by disseminating new, rational designs. 

From now on, the Institute's main focus was on conducting scientific and research work aimed at raising the level of aesthetics in production and developing guidelines for the planned economy in industrial design.  These ideas were implemented through the dissemination of new, rational designs. Exhibitions were organized, and their designs were promoted in the press, on the radio, and on television. The program was implemented very meticulously. It continued to oscillate around folk tradition, but Wanda Telakowska began to focus heavily on educating new designers. The political situation was also changing. After Wladyslaw Gomulka took power and the so-called "thaw" in 1956, there was a certain degree of openness to contemporary Western design, with all its individualism and diversity of attitudes. This gave rise and space to a new trend in design called the "Polish New Look."

New Look

"Polish New Look" centered primarily around specific forms of decoration. The modern, abstract patterns with which objects were decorated were called "pikasiaki" after Pablo Picasso. Extremely fashionable at the time were simplified, asymmetrical, or openwork forms (modeled on the sculptural realizations of the time), designed to enhance the qualities of the modern interior, for which they were intended. Among the most famous works of that period, we undoubtedly include the so-called IWP-figurines, which overnight became an obligatory decoration of all, Polish homes. Designs of the first porcelain figurines were created around 1955. A group of designers gathered in the IWP, including Henryk Jędrasiak, Lubomir Tomaszewski, Mieczysław Naruszewicz, and Hanna Orthwein, created about one hundred and thirty models over the next ten years, depicting mainly stylized images of animals, less frequently people. The figurines were created in Ćmielów, Chodzież, Wałbrzych, Jaworzyna Śląska, Bogucice or Tułowice.

Today, applied art from the 1950s and 1960s is among the most sought-after and collectible creations of Polish design. In our latest "Design-Usual/Unusual" auction, we have gathered for you nearly 30 objects, among which you will find ćmielów services and decorative platters in the new look style.

Added 2023-06-16 in

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