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.

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

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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

Author: Aleksandra Walkowska