A Pole in a china shop feels… excellent! Our country not only has centuries-old traditions regarding this craft, but also locally manufactured ceramics is experiencing a renaissance. All of this thanks to young artists who give it a unique character by combining traditional techniques with modern design.
The Polish tradition of ceramics dates back to the 19th century, when Polish workshops and factories such as Zakłady Ceramiczne “Bolesławiec” or Polish Porcelain Factories in Ćmielów or Chodzież stared operating. Hand-decorated crockery from Bolesławiec impresses with its folk character and decorations inspired by the beauty of Polish nature. Originally producing clay pots and faience, the company from Ćmielów became famous for its high quality porcelain and original figurines. The collections of the factory from Wałbrzych, founded by Carl Krister in the 19th century, were exported to Western Europe and North America, and their beautiful design, as well as precision manufacturing, could be compared to ceramics of Philip Rosenthal.
Tradition and modernity
There can be observed a resurgence of factories that have survived communism and political transformation. Factories from Ćmielów, Bolesławiec or Wałbrzych invite young and talented designers to combine the best quality with modern design. Moreover, new collections of Polish ceramics are successfully presented at the international fairs of applied arts. The workshop in Bolesławiec has refreshed its image by launching a new line called “Renaissance”. It was designed by Dorota Koziara, currently living in Milan, who has worked with such brands as Alessi, Swarovski and Christian Dior. Kristoff brand combines a traditional form with modern ornamentation. The porcelain designed in the first half of the last century has been embroidered with illustrations by young graphic artists concentrated around the “ILLO” Foundation, namely Marek Mielnicki, Kaja Kusztra, and Magda Pilaczyńska. The new image of the porcelain from Ćmielów is, in turn, entirely attributable to Marek Cecuła, a world-famous ceramist and lecturer of the Royal College of Art in London. In 2013, he set up Ćmielów Design Studio, operating next to the historical workshop, where he, together with young designers, creates a space for artistic experiments, combining contemporary inspirations with the centuries-old tradition of the Ćmielów Porcelain factory. One of the more interesting projects created in the factory is the minimalist tableware by the KABO & PYDO duo.
Play better, work smarter
The term Modern Polish ceramics is not only limited to factories and workshops with many years of tradition. Recent years have brought many interesting small workshops, which prove that Polish design does not differ from the western standards, and that applied arts can not only be functional, but also innovative and esthetical. Amongst the most interesting contemporary designs are the decorative plates with the illustrations of Magda Pilaczyńska, inspired by the minimalist nature of the ceramics of Hadaki studio in Poznań and the illustrations by Alicja Patanowska. This artist, who’s known to play with form, has designed, among others, the rocking bowl “Wańka”, crockery on which you can write with a chalk, as well as a module CUBI series, which is an alternative to “a boring, flat plate”.