Opening its doors to an estimated 3,500 visitors – the biggest ever number for the young Polish event - the Lodz Design Festival, a few minutes' walk from the city centre and just over an hour southwest of Warsaw, launched last week.
The festival, now in its third year, is one of the many design festivals springing up in various Polish cities - a sure sign of a vivid and growing interest in all things design for the nation - but it is certainly one of the oldest, biggest and most international design celebrations the country showcases.
All exhibitions responded to the common festival umbrella theme "My Way" and three curators masterminded the gathering’s three respective main shows.
Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka’s The Upstream//Design Tales exhibition is a clever edit of international designs with a distinctive personality, based on a strong narrative; the innovative Non Object Ive ceramics exhibition was set up by designer Marek Cecula; while the Surtido exhibition by designer Tomek Rygalik brings together a conceptual exploration of everyday objects by the Spanish collective.
A number of further shows and competitions surround the main show, beautifully situated in an old and disused textile factory - one of the many in historically industrial-heavy Lodz - as well as different locations around the city.
The Make Me! show presents the best entries and winner of a design competition; the Schools Review exhibition, shows the cream of the crop of the current design students from different schools all over Europe and overseas, including Germany, Latvia, USA and of course Poland; and the Polish Review Exhibition does exactly what it says on the box, offering an overview of the best young Polish design talent.
A series of lectures and workshops accompanying the shows add their dynamic input to the displayed edit of existing products and elaborate on the curators’ choices and vision. The festival also takes design to a larger scale, touching on film and architecture with the ArchFilmFest series, which includes screenings of the Deconstructive Architects by Michael Blackwood (2001) and Sketches of Frank Gehry by Sidney Pollack (2005).
Channelling the country’s ever growing design energy, the Lodz Design Festival brings foreign design to Poland and shows off Polish design to the world; and in the context of the ongoing Polska Year 2009 events spreading across the UK - from Polish architects at the RIBA to Polish art at the Tate, the Whitechapel and the Barbican - there are even more aspects of Poland to explore.