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Polish design transformations. Highlights from Arena Design 2019

19.04.2019 Trend & News

Polish design is transforming. With its maturing aesthetics and growing business savviness, it opens itself to new markets and possibilities, continuously surprising with creativity and impeccable craft. Reflecting on the eleventh edition of Arena Design that took place in Poznań this April, we still remember the tangible feeling of freshness permeating the air. In four days, 450 brands from all over the world presented their products in the Poznan International Fair, attracting more that 220 thousand visitors. Now, we're bringing you the highlights.  

With "Transformations" as its leitmotif, this year's Arena Design program curated by Marta Jeglińska was diverse and rich. Particularly appealing to visitors was Agata Nowotny's exhibition "Zasoby. Od materiałów do produktów" / "Resources. From raw materials to end products," created out of artist's sheer curiosity and urge to answer the question how everyday objects - dishes, lamps, chairs - come to life. Objects may not last forever, but materials they're made of never disappear. They undergo transformations, change states, lose distinctive features and acquire new values, but do not vanish. The exhibition provided an original perspective on the processes of production in Polish factories such as FAMEG, the producer of famous Thonet chairs, or Porcelain Factory "Karolina," giving everyone a sneak peek of how porcelain cups are made. The experience was particularly enriching to young designers willing to better understand the processes behind the making of objects. Other visitors, us included, found the exhibition truly inspiring and educational, closely analyzing each and every process. The atmosphere was filled with questions, laughter, and disbelief.

The exhibition turned out to be multidimensional. Its simple format focused on the production process did not deter the audience from delving deeper into thinking about the potential of resources and Polish industrial design; people working in factories; impeccability of Polish craft; and the blending of the traditional with the modern. I think that the exhibition promotes the understanding of "resources" as raw materials, but also as knowledge and experience of people who make it possible for us to enjoy our chairs, coffee cups, forks, and bathroom utensils - says curator Agata Nowotny.

"Zasoby" has just begun touring Poland, with the first exhibition scheduled to take place as part of Łódź Design Festival (May 17-26). Make sure to see it!

"Zasoby" exhibition

Ceramics by "Fenek"

„195x:How old is modern” exhibition

Can old school be modern? Emilia Obrzut, in the exhibition entitled "195x:How old is modern", shed a fresh light on vintage furniture. Featured against a bright yellow background, the collection immediately attracted attention, proving that ergonomics and bold design are always in vogue, regardless of style. Arena Design has always taken pride in giving out awards and distinctions. Debuting this year was the Designer of the Year award under the proud patronship of PURO Hotels. The award went to Fenek Studio, Michał Loba and Nikodem Szpunar, talented young designers worth keeping an eye on! When it comes to TOP DESIGN AWARDS 2019, the jury awarded three best design implementations to have debuted on the Polish market. Winners in eight categories included ZASŁOMKI designed by Ilona and Rafał Rogozik (produced by Lunepa) and SONA by Maja Ganszyniec (produced by NOTI Sp. z o.o.). Apart from the trophy, each winner received the TOP DESIGN certificate attesting to the finest quality of their craft - the best recommendation for anyone looking for a piece of good design!

It is important to notice that Arena has continuously fostered exchange in the design industry via meetings and discussions. This year, Alexander Taylor - a designer and innovator responsible for helping Adidas implement a revolutionary technology of zero-waste footwear production - talked about turning points in his career and everyday aspects of working among world's best designers and design studios. We've recently had the chance to admire his designs at International Design Fair in Milan.

from left: Tosia Kiliś i Agata Klimkowska (Fenek Studio), Michal Loba, Nikodem Szpunar

"Love original" exhibition

Zasłomki, Lunepa

VIV washbasin, Marmite

Alexander Taylor on stage

A discussion panel by Vogue

A discussion panel organized by VOGUE Poland, Arena Design 2019 strategic partner, met with an exceptionally enthusiastic response from the audience. Polish design and fashion experts - Maja Ganszyniec (Studio Ganszyniec, Nurt), Magdalena Borowiec (PROFIM), Mikołaj Molenda (, Jan Stasz (NAGO), Zuza Kuczyńska (Le Petit Trou) - engaged in a conversation about the development of local brands in the global environment. The conclusions were as follows.

Polish business values flexibility, but also bold and unorthodox decisions. Speaking of the foundation of their business models, each panelist stressed the importance of responding quickly to social changes and users' needs. Quality matters, undeniably so, but so do the opportunities afforded by the Internet that must be taken seriously in order for the brand to prosper. The Internet helps ideas grow and foster demand. These days, consumers value feedback and the ability to partake in the shaping of an object by personalizing it - says Dominika Olszyna, a journalist and panel moderator.

What paths will design take in 2019 and will Arena 2020 continue taking us by surprise? We certainly hope to see more editions of the festival filled with fresh ideas, spectacular exhibitions, one-of-a-kind emotions and, most importantly, designs that will stay with us for a long time, transforming our realities in smart and beautiful ways.


Text: Julia Kneisel
Photos: Arena Design

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