PURO Q&A: Marta Szostek
Marta Szostek* - an all-round designer and photographer – creates objects, installations and culinary experiences. You can see and admire her work in PURO hotel lobbies in Poznan and Gdansk. Searching for her own identity and always in a rush, Marta draws on the energy of a city and the context of a place in which she finds herself. That’s precisely what her works are about – they are about a human being and their traces left on the matter. They also speak of an often non-apparent and undiscovered beauty of objects and spaces.
I experience a city…
Through people. They show me interesting places I keep coming back to later. When I travel, I usually stay at my friends, who become my temporary guides. What fascinates me the most is the inner side of a city, its “guts” – flats (that’s why house parties are my favorite) and unattended, derelict, unfashionable and dirty places – the ones that don’t like tourists. I like being an unwelcome guest in a city, someone who works their way to invisible and private spaces through unnoticeable clefts.
When I want to meet people…
There’s no strategy☺ I just do – people are everywhere. When I feel like spending time with someone specific, they always turn out to be nearby… I have no idea how this happens.
When I want to calm down…
I run. Running is my way of calming down, but it also helps me grow accustomed to a city I live in at a given moment. I started running in London for I had no money for any other sports. I liked it that, when I was running, I could see all the green places I didn’t have time to discover…I’m not that kind of a person who, in the middle of a day, grabs a book and sits comfortably in a park. Paradoxically, by running I get to know a city slowly and at leisure, focusing on where I am, what I see and experience at that very moment. Later, when I lived in Eindhoven and studied at a university where students worked for 20 hours a day, running was the only chance to catch my breath. I could see part of the city, leaving for a while my life of a design student in a constant hurry for materials. On the second day after I’d moved to Poznan, I put my running shoes on and went outside thinking: “All right, so that’s where I’m going to live now”. Running gives me the sense of continuity despite changes.
I go for walks…
I usually walk to a destination…To work, to school, to a pub, or to a park with my dog. I walk in a hurry and quite frequently irritated, so I don’t get to know the city the way I’d like to.
Places that usually remain unnoticeable. I store three discoveries in my memory that will stay with me forever. The first one is “Haygate Estate Building” – an abandoned apartment complex in the center of London. The place is outrageously quiet even though it’s next to an enormous traffic junction. What’s peculiar is that this little town in the city is not dilapidated but abandoned, as if part of the population just vanished. Being there, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. It is said that residents were resettled from the complex due to the increasing crime rate caused by an incorrect design of the buildings. Rumor has it that the architect committed suicide once he found out about it.
My second discovery is also in London – a bistro in Camberwell district I was taken to by my partner. I remember it as if it was today. I go inside the place from a noisy street and immediately feel as if I stumbled into a spatiotemporal abyss. I feel as if everything inside the place, including people, were part of a set design. Tables are sticky with dirt, fans hang from the ceiling, a man behind a counter wears an apron and a toque, people around seem to have been taken alive from Diane Arbus’s photographs… Words can’t describe it. I took pictures but didn’t dare to eat anything.
For the dessert – a place in Eindhoven. It’s one of these underground nooks you have to be introduced to by someone else. “Pizza Guy” is the name of a private courtyard, whose owner makes a pizza oven available to the locals, who, in turn, bring their own pizza products and prepare this Italian specialty their very own way. All around, there are plenty of small, dusty objects and peculiar souvenirs from all over the world; a trampoline on a roof and people who don’t feel like spending an evening in a pub.
I find treasures…
Of course, the most precious treasures are to be found on flea markets and scrap yards, but also in junk and 1-euro shops, where I am always fascinated with how absurd Chinese products can be. A long time ago, together with my friend, I bought a jokey birthday gifts for my partner and his friend – two plastic figures of the “buy one get one free” type – a marten and a gorilla. The gorilla fell into oblivion, but the history of the marten developed in a surprising way. We discovered that the marten was very photogenic, so we bought several more of them so that each of us had one on their own and could make pictures of it any chance they got. For several years, we’ve been taking the marten everywhere. As a result, it’s on hundreds of photographs taken all over the world as the main actor in various scenes – while taking a bath in the Baltic Sea, being a tourist in front of the Eiffel Tower or an attribute carried by a Buddhist monk in Delhi…I could spend a lot of time giving examples ☺ We’re planning on creating a fan page of this absurd character.
The taste of a city…
To me, London tastes of French fries primarily. Every time I’m in the city I want to eat fast food and I succumb to this need with pleasure. When it comes to Poznan, I associate it with the taste of Prosecco – I suppose this spatio-gustatory connection is so intense that everytime I drink white sparkling wine I will think about this city. Lastly, the taste of Eindhoven is the taste of Dutch stroopwafels (two thin waffles with a caramel filling in the middle) I used to gorge on when I lived there. Taste is always connected to memories, most often the good ones.
Things I always have on me…
My phone, of course, for we can’t do without it these days; a notebook, cigarettes and a huge scarf – a poncho I use as a blanket when I go on a longer trip. Recently I’ve started carrying a tape measure in a clutch purse. It comes in handy all the time ☺
A must-have item in my suitcase…
Nothing special, just the things every human being would have in their suitcase: clothes and cosmetics, lots of them.
*Marta Szostek - is a designer and photographer, whose works border on art and design and often refer to the context of a place, identity and the issues of recycling. In her approach to design, Marta – fascinated with materiality – focuses on material experimentation and extensive research. She studied in Poland (a diploma in photography from the Higher School of Art and Design in Lodz and graduated from the Faculty of Domestic Design at Poznan School of Form) and abroad (a foundation diploma from London College of Communication; Design Academy of Eindhoven). Her works have been exhibited during, e.g., Lodz Design Festival, London Design Week, Tokio Design Week, British Ceramic Biennale in Stoke-on-Trent and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Indonesia.
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