The communist period in design and architecture was characterized by exceptional richness. It was then that cult furniture was created by such designers as Teresa Kruszewska and Jozef Chierowski. Items of everyday use, which were in almost every home, until recently were considered worthless echoes of a bygone era. Today, these designs, are considered iconic and are becoming increasingly difficult to find, and the fashion for atmospheric home decor from the 1950s-90s is making a comeback.
Icons of Polish design at every turn
Some of us don't even realize that in their family homes they used to sit on stylish furniture by famous designers every day, which are now probably extremely rare. These items have not only material value, but above all sentimental value. The older generation may associate them with carefree childhood and the warmth of the family home, a little younger with holidays spent at grandma's. Today we can successfully design the space in our apartments and houses in the "Post-PRL" guiding style. It is certainly a unique and timeless style. However, if we do not want to carry out a thorough metamorphosis, we can surreptitiously smuggle pieces of this style in accessories. It's also a great idea to enrich the space with a stylish arm chair in an eye-catching upholstery color.
Renovating old furniture has only good benefits. First, it is to save from oblivion some piece of our history, the possessions of a wide range of talented designers and factories, most of which probably no longer exist. If it weren't for the items that have become a permanent part of the canon of Polish design and are still in use, many people would probably forget about this wonderful heritage. Secondly, in the spirit of the ubiquitous emphasis on re-use and zero waste, we can, by refreshing the color of the wood, re-impregnating or replacing the upholstery, enjoy the same piece of furniture for the next few decades. Old but refurbished furniture has more and more supporters, and that is why more and more places and companies are being created that are engaged in this wonderful initiative, restoring the former glory of beautiful Polish furniture.
Shell, Aga, Noise...
Few of us associate these names, but Polish communist Poland was not only a cult not necessarily attractive and clunky furniture. Many pieces of furniture from that period were made of great materials and had unique designs, and by taking high care to make each piece of furniture useful and practical first and foremost, they are simply that - comfortable and timeless.
The cult model of the Type - 366 armchair in two versions of finish
Upholstered armchair type 366
Designer: Jozef Marian Chierowski
Manufacturer: Dolnośląskie Fabryki Mebli in Świebodzice (until 1970), Głuchołaskie Fabryki Mebli- Głuchołazy, Świdnicki Ośrodek Przemysłu Meblarskiego (from 1970), Olsztyńskie Fabryki Mebli - Zakład w Pieckach
This is probably one of the most popular and well-known chairs of Polish design from the communist period. It was produced for 20 years, during which it appeared in a not inconsiderable number of almost a million pieces! The fashionable armchair was also often chosen for interior design in Polish cult films of the period, such as 1965's Holy War (directed by Julian Dziedzina) and 1985's Och Karol, directed by Roman Załuski.
Extremely timeless design of the "Hare" armchair.
Author of the design: No evidence has survived that could unequivocally confirm who the author of the design was.
Manufacturer: Dolnośląskie Fabryki Mebli in Świebodzice, since 1970 Gościcińska Fabryka Mebli.
Armchair type 300-177 is now called "hare" or "bunny", was produced alongside the iconic model 366 from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s
Popular chair "Aga"
Designer: Jozef Marian Chierowski
Manufacturer: Wielkopolskie Fabryki Mebli Zakład in Chodzież and presumably in other versions at Dolnośląskie Fabryki Mebli in Świebodzice and Fabryka Mebli Giętli in Jasienica
Another iconic design - the AGA Chair is so far a frequent household name. Its characteristic feature is double legs attached to the frame with visible screws. According to this prototype, many similar models were produced in later times, for example, such as "BIRTH", which had piping manufactured from plastic. Nothing surprising about this - these chairs were extremely comfortable and handy.
The cult model of the chair "Shell"
Designer: Wacław Leśniewski
Manufacturer: Słupski Ośrodek Przemysłu Meblarskiego, Bydgoskie Fabryki Mebli, Rzemieślnicza Spółdzielnia Zaopatrzenia i Zbytu Usług Budowlanych, Meblarska Spółdzielnia Pracy "Zjednoczenie".
The chair - type 1020 often called "shell" has a hole in the lower part of the backrest with a characteristic shape, visible at first glance. There was also created a second version of this design called "1020 B" / "George B" distinguished from the first version, among other things, by the shape of the cross-section of the legs.
Extremely filigree chairs by Prof. Halas
Chair type 200-190
Year: circa 1966
Author of the project: Rajmund Teofil Hałas
Manufacturer: Olsztyńskie Fabryki Mebli, Paczkowskie Fabryki Mebli, Głuchołaskie Fabryki Mebli.
The chair - type 200-190 is extremely elegant. It looks stable, is comfortable and, in addition, does not take up much space. Its designer - Rajmund Teofil Halas - was an artist and university professor, and the author of several other projects that are now considered icons of communist design such as the 1959 Variable Height Bookcase.
Curved seats of chairs type A- 6150
Chair type A-6150
Manufacturer: Zakłady Mebli Gięte - Radomsko(FAMEG).
This unusual chair impresses with its simplicity. The upholstery was made of two pieces of fabric sewn together. The comfortable shape of the seat and back element was achieved by using bent leaf plywood.
Renovated chair "Jumper"
Designer: Juliusz Kędziorek
Manufacturer: Zamojskie Fabryki Mebli
TheGFM-57 chair, which earned one of the most famous nicknames among Polish furniture-"skoczek"-is a unique icon of Polish design. It was one of the designer's best designs and is said to have been designed on the wave of popularity of ski jumping.
Polish design with your own eyes
A great opportunity to get a feel for the atmosphere of these objects is to visit the exhibitions at the National Museum in Cracow titled. "Objects. Gallery of Polish Design of the 20th and 21st Centuries" and "Cross-sections. Gallery of Polish Architecture of the 20th and 21st Centuries" located in the Szołayski House, a branch of the MNK. Interestingly, the exhibitions also herald further development of the museum's activities in this direction. A new branch of the museum is to be established in the former Hotel Cracovia in the future.
The exhibits range from the era of Young Poland, through modernism and the avant-garde in the Second Republic, the era of the People's Republic of Poland, to the present day. Separate rooms are devoted to poster art and fashion. The chosen timeframe makes it possible to appreciate the achievements of the creators of the first Polish design associations at the turn of the 20th century (the Polish Applied Art Society, the Cracow Workshops), while at the same time emphasizing that the achievements of the 20th century and the decades of transformation after 1989 are of key importance for us today.
- National Museum in Cracow
Elaboration: Dominika Tyrlik
Photos of restored furniture designs courtesy of Meblostan.pl