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Gdynia Design Days 2012, Gdansk, Poland

Gdynia Design Days 4

Gdynia Design Days
. July 7-15

Location: Gdynia, Poland
Organizer City of Gdynia

On 7-15 July 2012 for the fifth time has been held an edition of the festival Gdynia Design Days. The event was accompanied by various types of exhibitions, workshops and meetings with designers and professionals who use design in business.

Gdynia Design Days is part of the strategy for the city as a good place to design and promote good design solutions, especially in public spaces. Formula of the event: exhibitions in different locations of the city, events in public space, design workshops, presentations by designers, lectures, happenings, fashion shows, special events in the Tricity cultural areas.

The main idea of the fifth edition of Gdynia Design Days - the most important summer design festival in Poland - was a pleasure to create. Creativity of designers, good design, and holiday atmosphere - this combination ensured that the festival will be an arena of creative projects and ambitious events.

Ksenia Kaniewska unveiled Russia – one of the most dynamically developing economies the progress of which grows along with design. Genuine pearls of creativity, inspiring exotic -­ that’s what the projects coming out of Russian designers’ hands are like-­ graduates’ of the world’s best schools of design.

Gdynia Design Days 3

Russian Design: God, Humour, Homeland
. Author: Ksenia Kaniewska.

The “God, humour, homeland” project is the first so extensive presentation of young Russian design out of that country since the Soviet Union dissolved. It is an attempt to look objectively at what happens in a country we only hear about in political context, at least recently. We are not interested in politics. While we don’t consider ourselves ignorant in this field, we actually restrict our relations with the authority to obtain patronage from Polish and Russian state institutions. The work we show is free of clichés, long-accumulated prejudice, political divisions, but not separated from tradition. Knowledge about the past gives strength and faith.

Gdynia Design Days 2012_4

God. We do speak about God. And gods, too – not just in capital letters. About idols and divinities. We listen to what young people, grown up in the age of multimedia, talk about. We observe how they are confronted with tradition and how different traditions clash between the East and the West; religion rooted in Byzantium with the Western one. Faith becomes a challenge to how objects are conceived and objects not always become confession of faith. Yet they can do wonders, just as faith can. Attributes of faith, interwoven with fashion icons in our days when “fashion is religion”. This is dealing with the ambiguous, with what stirs extreme emotions today. Provocations? Profanation? The orthodox, religious Russia seems more keen on debating about the shape of its Catholic neighbours’ cross. Young Russians express their experience using such notions as an object of cult, fetish, sometimes gadget. Angels and devils. Demons, fiends, creatures of malignant fantasies. Saints in nappies. New prophets and new icons born. We have Creator and creators at the same time; both doing miracles. Provocations, morally involved but free of risk.

Gdynia Design Days 2

Humour. Rather than manifested disagreement – conventions at play, having fun with form, enchantment with freedom. Amusement. Joke. Laughing at oneself, at others, at long-standing tedium with objects and their functions. We deny functions while still giving users tools they need to perform their tasks. Objects are now enriched with a new added value – reactions of their users. Objects are no longer meant to assimilate; instead, they penetrate memory. There’s a new phenomenon we notice in Russian environment – an assent, nodded for the first time, for an object not to be indispensable. In pair with this, we see demand for amazement in mass society. What is practical and necessary, as it occurs, doesn’t have to be conservative, grey and gloomy.

Gdynia Design Days 2012_5

Homeland. But void of politics, here again. The exhibition title quotes from a celebrated drawing of Polish cartoonist Andrzej Mleczko “God, humour, homeland”. In Mleczko’s drawing a young yokel in folk attire slips on a banana skin while God laughs at his joke. That’s playing with national symbols in the background. Here we come again – peccadillos, but innocent ones, without harming anybody. Which are Russia’s best known symbols? Let us ask anyone and what do they say? Lenin and matroshka, probably. Lenin cannot be shown and if he could then what for? Matroshka, on the other hand, can be. That’s how we drag those national symbols behind for years and years, unable to finally cut them off. However, what we are able to do is to play with them. That’s when intellectual ferment comes in, replacing plain adornment. Old-fashioned way of seeing the world finally devaluated; bold transposition of worn-out symbols created brand new prospects and values. Seemingly finished images become icons once more. Shameless, utilitarian, egalitarian icons, abound with pluralism of values.

Gdynia Design Days 5

Gdynia Design Days 1

What else? We get rid of the cliché of golden door handles, swimming pools with plastic swans and glossy floors. Russian designers, who largely shape minds and tastes of the young, conscious generation, keep far away from that kitschy glamour, cheap luxury, caviar served with a golden spoon. We show you mature, egalitarian product designed with awareness. While not necessarily reflecting popular taste, it still builds identity and identification. We don’t divide people into rich and poor. The product we bring is going to serve everybody.

The exhibition was held  within the frames of Gdynia Design Days.

Text and photos published through the courtesy of the Author.