POLISH FASHION IN 1960s

WHAT WAS POLAND LIKE IN THE 1960s?

My reflection of the Polish fashion and design in the 1960s is based on the black and white movies I have seen such as Knife in the water by Roman Polański or Night train by Jerzy Kawalerowicz. The generation born during the war would be in their early twenties by then. It was natural to aim for change as the wounds of war were healing.

Knife in the water by Romand Polański, 1962
‘Knife in the water’ by Romand Polański, 1962
Night train by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1959
‘Night Train’ by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1959

With the new Polish Communist leader Władysław Gomułka and his vision of socialistic Poland, there was an expansion of block apartments built out of cheap material. Every year thousands of them were released to the public. Those apartments were tiny therefor rooms were multifunctional. Dining rooms during the day would be used as bedrooms at the night time. Multifunctional furniture such as the famous wall unit was present in every apartment. There was no uniqueness, the same style, the same furniture perhaps the colour would change, most of the apartments looked the same.

Wall unit, Poland, Communism era
Wall unit, Poland, Communism era

FIVE YEARS PLAN

Economical and industrial growth was planned five years ahead and it would consider infrastructure and mass production. It meant that the consumer would have to wait five years to purchase the goods.

Ladies Confection was the phrase used instead of fashion and it was run by the Ministry of Light Industry controlled by the Fashion Planning Committee. The officials did not care about the design of the clothes often they would fall asleep during the presentations of them. Fashion brands the way we know them today did not exist. The Department of Clothing Industry would only supply 10% of the market need. In reality, it meant there was nothing in the stores for ages, occasionally goods were sent to the stores which would create massive demand and aggressive queues. The shop assistants were terrified confronting greedy customers.

Drop of goods, Communism in Poland
Queues during Communism in Poland

People on Polish streets looked like they were wearing working uniforms. The dullness of the design brought the need for individuality. Polish women were making new garments out of the existing one. Skirts were made out of old trousers, summer shoes out of the runners, tops were made out of a baby cotton diapers. Despite the obstacles, they say Polish women were very well dressed those days, they made the streets more vibrant. Limitation made it more desired and innovative.

Barbar Hoff, Przekrój, 1960
Barbara Hoff, Przekrój, 1960

Jeans symbolised freedom and western lifestyle, but only the very fortunate had a chance to own a pair. Wearing jeans was a manifestation of a disagreement with the current system. Authorities would shave heads of young guys with long hair, it was seen as immoral western influence.

Woman in a pair of jeans, somewhere in Communistic Poland

BARBARA HOFF

Barbara Hoff is a Polish fashion journalist and a costume designer. During the Communism, she became the most popular fashion designer and the only one who managed to create her own line outside the central planning.

Projekt Barbary Hoff
Designed by Barbara Hoff
Projekt Barbary Hoff
Designed by Barbara Hoff

I had such a feeling that I change something in Poland. I thought that fashion would open people’s heads a little because, under the influence of socialist doctrine, people began to shut their minds. It seemed to me that if society would know about fashion, it would change mentally in some way. Fashion was my idea to change Poland. I always had the feeling that an intelligent man has a duty to do something for his country. This is his responsibility. I based my fight against socialism on fashion. I could have come up with something else, it just happened. As it is now said, it seems unreal, funny, even pompous, but it was! – Barbara Hoff (source)

All images are linked to the original sources.

Written by: Aleksandra Walkowska

A. Walkowska

50’s COMMUNISM AND THE COLORADO POTATO BEETLE

FSO Syrena Sport

Have you ever heard of ‘the potato beetle propaganda’ in the 1950’s?

So, here in Poland people were led to believe the nasty Americans dropped their potatoes beetles from their planes over East Germany and this invasion of the beetles, later on, spread to Poland too. These invaders had to be exterminated with Azotox, a very toxic detergent, which is more dangerous to the human body than the beetle itself (just an extra bit of protein on potatoes). Sounds a bit like the Irish Potatoes Famine, doesn’t it? Fortunately, here in Poland, it did not kill half of the population. The purpose of it was to distract the nation from the evil temptations of Western culture, the moral crisis and the wicked influence that it could have on the peaceful, idyllic Eastern Bloc. But, underneath the carpet, much more horrifying things were happening here, but secretly.

My mother at the time was a little girl and still remembers the aggressive insect attack, the smell of Azotox she had to spread on the American Colorado beetles that were creeping on the potatoes leaves. Apparently, older people have never seen those nasty insects before and without the extermination, there would be nothing left of the potatoes crop that year. I am left not knowing what to think. There is a bit of truth in every gossip, they say. Fake news and false flag operation is not a recent invention!

The 1950s in Eastern Europe was the period when Communism took a heavy toll on all. While listening to older people who lived through those difficult years I built certain images in my head. I am under the impression most of the time it was dark and very cold, people were frightened and very poor. After Stalin’s death in the 1953 very tight control of the information from the West loosened up. The New Style Look reached Poland in the mid-1950s followed by the desire for self-expression. Under the tragedy & comedy mask of Communism, interesting ideas started to appear in Polish design.

***

Beauty every day for everyone. Good patterns of mass production are economic value. Good patterns are also cultural value ~ Wanda Telakowska

***

At first, it was the engineers and constructors coming up with the new innovative design ideas. Later on, the industries started to employ young graduates from art schools. I have to admit, only recently through a Polish patriotic fashion brand ‘Red is Bad I found how cool some of those objects were. I believe I am one of many who is only now getting an education on creative Polish minds behind those designs. The new trend of Proud Poland has reached this land in recent years.

 


 

Cezary Nawrot – Polish industrial designer, a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and the creator of FSO Syrena Sport. Fans of motoring in Europe were delighted with this model. The body of the car was made of plastic, which was based on a self-supporting floor plate. Under the very low mask of the Syrena Sport, there was a prototype two-cylinder, four-stroke boxer engine developing the power of about 35 HP. The drive was moved to the front axle using a four-speed gearbox. The novelty was the hydraulic clutch drive and shift lever in the floor. Weighing about 700 kg, the coupe accelerated to a maximum speed of 110 km/h.

FSO Syrena Sport
FSO Syrena Sport

Although it was known from the very beginning that Syrena Sport is only a test platform of new solutions and technologies and that it will not enter the general production, it was not without pressure from the press and motoring enthusiasts to start even a short production series. The management of FSO was forced to end the work on Syrena Sport and to hide the only prototype.

The car, unfortunately, did not agree with the socialistic reality as an apparently it aroused the desire for the Western lifestyle. A dozen years later it was destroyed along with other projects to free the garage space. To this day, Syrena Sport is considered the most beautiful project of the Polish automotive industry. In 1962, the English showed the world the Triumph Spitfire model, which is reminiscent of Siren Sport. (source: bit.ly/2FNpKL9)

FSO Syrena Sport
FSO Syrena Sport

Instead of driving Syrena Sport, Polish roads were led by its ugly sister. Today, it is treated by cars lovers as a vintage automobile and often is used as a wedding car. Who would think! Whole fifty years later it got a new life! Through an appreciation of the present generation, it receives love, respect and dignity.

Syrena, Polish car designed in 1950s
Syrena, Polish car designed in the 1950s

POLISH DESIGN 1950’s

‘Furniture does not have to be attractive, formally expansive. Our life is rich enough not to complicate it with the forms of residential interiors’ ~ said Maria Chomentowska, an exceptional Polish furniture designer, creator of furniture icons for Polish design, the employee of the Institute of Industrial Design in the years 1951-1977. Chomentowska created about 200 design projects.

Char 'Spider' by Maria Chomentowska, 1956
Chair ‘Spider‘ by Maria Chomentowska, 1956
Chair 'Lungs' by Maria Chomentowska, 1956
Chair ‘Lungs’ by Maria Chomentowska, 1956

LUBOMIR TOMASZEWSKI

‘When I find twisted branches in a forest, I always have an impression that they talk about the battle with nature and life’s strength. My job is to add the rest of the story in the visual language~ Lubomir Tomaszewski, founder of Emotionalist Movement and remarkable Polish designer of the post-war period.

Designers such as Tomaszewski did not know the current work of foreign designers simply because they did not have access to it. They were aware of their ignorance of porcelain manufacturing technology and poor technical facilities in Polish factories. Knowing about these limitations, sculptors decided to experiment. Thanks to this, unique and original works could have been created. Everything was an experiment. Adventure with design began with small figures, individual forms were easier to enter into production than entire sets. In addition, the short series gave the opportunity to test the market and check the reaction to the product. Figures were to ensure financial liquidity, high sales were aimed at. (source: bit.ly/2CLo0kH)

 

 

Lubomir Tomaszewski, 'Camel', 1957
Lubomir Tomaszewski, ‘Camel’, 1957
Lubomir Tomaszewski, 'Roe deer', 1958
Lubomir Tomaszewski, ‘Roe deer’, 1958

 

‘PICASSY’ MIECZYSŁAW NARUSZEWICZ

Polish glass and ceramic designer, creator of original figurines that were remarkably expressive in their form and charming to their audience particularly his animal figurines, which offered an element of surrealism and surprise. Since 1958, Mieczyswław Naruszewicz together with Lubomir Tomaszewski were employed by Institute of Industrial Design. They worked on Ćmielów Figures sculptural ceramics created in Poland in between 1950-1960.

Mieczysław Naruszewicz, 'Panther', 1958
Mieczysław Naruszewicz, ‘Panther’, 1958
Mieczysław Naruszewicz, 'Żubr', 1957
Mieczysław Naruszewicz, ‘Żubr’, 1957
Mieczysław Naruszewicz, 'Turkey', 1956,
Mieczysław Naruszewicz, ‘Turkey’, 1956

All images are linked to the original sources.

Recommended pages to visit: desa.pl muzeumwarszawy.pl  culture.pl/en  meblostan.pl iwp.com.pl as.cmielow.com.pl

Written by: Aleksandra Walkowska

A. Walkowska

OPEN HOUSE FESTIVAL 2016 / DUBLIN

The Brass Kitchen, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

THE ARCHITECTS FESTIVAL

What is The Open House Festival?

Open House Dublin (OHD) is Ireland’s largest architecture festival, inviting all citizens to explore their city. It works through a simple but powerful idea: showcasing outstanding architecture for everyone to experience. Buildings that aren’t usually accessible to the public and buildings of architectural merit open their doors for one weekend, with architectural tours provided by expert guides (source click here).

 

 

In my opinion, it is the best festival/event taking place in Dublin. I have been looking forward to it with great enthusiasm every year and been attending the festival regularly. It is well organised, always with helpful volunteers offering catalogues for sale at every door, which are decorated with white balloons that help to spot the place easily. The viewers are broken into small groups and are guided by either an owner of the place, an architect involved in the project or a manager who runs the business or an institution. During the tour, the public can find out valuable information about the history of the place, the inspiration for the design, compromises and problems, which accrued during the creation process.

The houses inside are often a great surprise, featuring a clever architectural solution, original concept and skilled innovations. All followed by tasteful interior design often spiced up with recognizable pieces of furniture from the Bauhaus period or classic Scandinavian design.

 

THE BRASS & MARBLE KITCHEN

This is a house I have seen during The Open House Festival in 2016.  It is a three floors Victorian house located in South Dublin. The group I was in was guided by the Landlady of the house, who also mentioned that one floor was available for rent as Airbnb.

The pearl of the house is the brass kitchen which reflects the light and bounces off the golden glow. Marks on the surface work very well with the walls which reveal layers of different paints that previously decorated the space. The Landlady mentioned they did have an idea to paint the walls in a particular colour but after cleaning the walls they decided to leave it as it is. It adds a lot of character to the place while giving it a slightly rough, an unfished look which works very well with patterned white marble and very present brass featured around the house. All combined with the collection of odd chairs.

 

Even if at first the renovation process of the house appears unfished every single object in this house is very well thought through, creating balanced styling entirety. Huge applause to the Lady of the house!

The images were taken with my HTC mobile phone, the resolution could be better but surprisingly it worked pretty well.

THE BRASS KITCHEN

The Brass Kitchen, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb
The Brass Kitchen, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

The Brass Kitchen, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

The Brass Kitchen, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

The Brass Kitchen, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

The Brass Kitchen, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

THE BROWN KITCHEN

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb
Open House Festival, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

THE FIREPLACE

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb
Open House Festival, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

The Brass Kitchen, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

THE WALL

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb
Open House Festival, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland,

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

THE CHAIR, SOFAS, SINK

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb
Open House Festival, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

PLANTS & PATIO

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb
Open House Festival, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Open House Festival, Rathmaines, Dublin, Ireland, Airbnb

Written by: Aleksandra Walkowska

A. Walkowska

 

CHAPELIZOD ILLUSTRATIONS

Phone box in Chapelizod, Dublin, Ireland

TOUR DE CHAPELIZOD

Chapelizod is one of many places described by James Joyce in his book Ulysses. After reading chosen fragments referring to the place I designed a series of images following the same creative style and technique. Each image carries a vibrant colour against the monochromatic background. I wanted to create an abstract, dream-like feel to the series.

I do not know much about the village other than it is a rather old place located just beside the Phoenix Park in Dublin. You get the feeling once it was a pleasant place to live in where all the neighbours knew each other. Today, it is a place with no personality, no life or character. Used only as a passing place to other destinations.

Picking up on that mood I have chosen the most significant landmarks. Places that once had something to offer. At present they seem outdated, forgotten and isolated.

LEMON GREEN

Ireland sober is Ireland stiff – James Joyce

Eircom phone box, once upon a time offered the use of modern technology and communication. At present covered in a spider web, contrasting with an old building wrapped in ivy.

Phone box in Chapelizod, Dublin, Ireland
Phone box in Chapelizod, Dublin, Ireland
Phone box in Chapelizod, Dublin, Ireland
Photograph traced in Illustrator
Phone box in Chapelizod, Dublin, Ireland
Photoshop, Illustrator and photo manipulation.

ORANGE

A nation is the same people living in the same place – James Joyce

Will this boat be ever used again? … Probably not. Because what would it be used for? Fishing? Recreation? The owner may have left the village and has forgotten all about it. You can sens the physical presence of a person. The no more existing owner of the boat.

Chapelizod river, Dublin, Ireland
Chapelizod river, Dublin, Ireland
Chapelizod river, Dublin, Ireland
Photoshop, Illustrator and photograph manipulation

TURQUOISE

No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination – James Joyce

 

Not a living soul. The town is empty. Walls of those buildings are as fragile as an eggshell. Unrealistic birds flying through the town. On their way to a warmer more hopeful places.

Wake up now!

Main Street in Chapelizod, Dublin, Ireland
Main Street in Chapelizod, Dublin, Ireland
Main Street in Chapelizod, Dublin, Ireland
Photoshop, Illustrator and photograph manipulation

Written by: Aleksandra Walkowska

A. Walkowska

TANGO, MILONGA IN DUBLIN 2011

Tango-milonga, Dublin 2011

MILONGA EVENING

The third time I went with my camera for the milonga evening I was feeling well experienced and prepared.

Milonga dance incorporates the same basic elements as Tango but permits a greater relaxation of legs and body. Movement is normally faster, and pauses are less common. It is usually a kind of rhythmic walking without complicated figures, with a more humorous and rustic style in contrast with the serious and dramatic Tango. (source: here)

I had to check myself what a milonga is …

Tango evenings in Dublin were always more of social events for me. Great way to network. The Third Place as they call it in marketing. The kind of a place where one meets people who are not connected to the work, family or personal past. Conversations are universal, thought to require good social skills and some general knowledge to share with others while conversing. Unless one wants to talk about tango … but there is no point of bringing wood into the forest.

There happened a good few marriages in the group, few children were born and some painful break-ups too. Some left Ireland for good, some stayed loyal to the dance for years and years. People come and go. The endorphins keep bringing people together.

I am very happy with this shoot. A couple of tango dancers are standing still, concentrating. Silence before the storm. It is so relaxing. Every time I look at it, I am Zen.

Tango-milonga, Dublin 2011
Tango-milonga, Dublin 2011

Author: Aleksandra Walkowska

TANGO PRACTICE, DUBLIN 2011

Dublin tango workshop, 2011

TANGO WORKSHOP

After the film broke apart in my Zenit camera, bravely I tried again a week later. This time with a different equipment but the same film Ilford Delta 400. One of the tango dancers, who was more experience than me with manual cameras, was very kind and helped me to change the film. That evening I must have used two rolls of film.

   

When I was reducing the size of images in Photoshop for this post I started getting very sentimental … in general. It must be the effect of the black and white photographs with all the noise in them, like a vinyl record with slightly huskily sound. The passing of time. Special moments appreciated more as they are gone. Life.

“All those moments
will be lost in time,
like tears in rain.
Time to die.”

Tears in rain, Blade Runner

MUSIC IN THE SOUL

Girls dancing with the girls! Boys dancing with the boys! Laughters, whispers, spontaneity. Joy!

FACES, PEOPLE, COUPLES, FRIENDS

Love affairs, broken hearts, bonding, flirtation, jealousy. Passion.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Step by step. Patience, perseverance, hard work. Relax.

Author: Walkowska Aleksandra