Combining design education with the furniture industry
For the past 20 years, the Magdalena Abakanowicz University of Arts in Poznan has been implementing the Education and Design Program (known as PE-P), which aims to combine design education with the furniture industry. Students learn the specifics of mass production, improve their work and gain the experience necessary for future professional work. The 20th edition of the Education and Design Program was carried out with the close support of, among others, the VOX brand and the Lab150 Design Center, other partners included Schattdecor and Egger, and media patronage was provided by the BIZNESmeble.pl portal. The exhibition of the students' designs took place during the Warsaw Home & Contract Interior Fair in October 2021.
For years, PE-P has been an alternative form of design education that allows students to start working professionally immediately after graduation. It is the only program of its kind in Poland, which relies on the cooperation of novice designers with well-known brands on the market. Support at every stage of the program was provided by the partners of the 20th edition of the Education and Design Program: the VOX brand, Lab150 Design Center, Schattdecor and Egger.
Specialists who participated in the project.
© Igor Drozdowski
Real needs of the recipients
The long-term project fits perfectly with the VOX brand's concept of operation. It was the first in Poland to start researching the real needs of customers using design thinking methodology. Multidisciplinary teams, which, in addition to designers, include psychologists, ethnographers or sociologists, work on products tailored to different lifestyles. During the Education and Design Program, furniture design students in Poznań were helped by VOX experts and specialists, including Katarzyna Bryze, head of R&D, and designers Dorota Balewicz and Natalia Polakowska. An additional dimension of this cooperation is confronting business at an early stage and designing in an environment of real constraints and opportunities.
The motto of the 20th edition of the Education and Design Program was "New Functionalities." The theme is directly related to the changes taking place in the modern world. Due to the pandemic reality, we spent a lot of time in apartments and homes, so it is precisely such spaces that need to be reorganized and adapted to the ever-changing conditions.
Homemaker, worker and student are different roles constantly intertwined throughout the day and mixed with the surrounding reality.
Joanna Lisiecka from the Laboratory of Educational Programs and Industry Cooperation talks about the project:
A group of 20 students had a new task, namely to collide with the pandemic reality and create designs that would correspond to the new functionalities and wall panels. We started with extensive research, and then the students got acquainted with the design brief. The next step involved learning about the manufacturing process at partner companies. After the prototyping phase, selected designs will be prepared for market implementation.
Team 20 of PE-P: students with instructors.
© Igor Drozdowski
Mutual cooperation counts
The PE-P project is organized by Professor Katarzyna Laskowska and Assistant Professor Joanna Lisiecka, who point out that the values derived from the project are multidimensional activities. Students learn to work in a design team, face real market needs, interact with professionals, and learn how to create concepts. Companies that have been in the market for years, meanwhile, receive a fresh perspective from young creators.
To date, more than 30 projects have been put into production thanks to the PE-P program, and most of them are still in production. Some 150 prototypes have been created over the past 20 years, while 95% of the students participating in the Education and Design Program are working in the profession.
Dorota Balewicz, VOX designer, talks about the ideas of the students participating in the program:
Furniture forms, by definition, are a story, a relationship that works in space and connects users. I particularly liked the incorporation of plants into them. In the area of wall panels, students embedded themselves quite strongly in the graphic proposals themselves.
Multi furniture project.
© Igor Drozdowski
VOX brand implements the best designs
The VOX brand is currently in the process of reviewing the products selected during the 20th PE-P.
Katarzyna Bryze, Head of R&D at VOX, points out:
Several of the projects are in line with VOX's philosophy, such as Multi - a multifunctional facility that promotes children's activities and integrates them with their parents. It gives the youngest children the opportunity to cook together with their parents, serving as a safe table to turn into a theater or transform into a car after a while. The project is stylistically in line with the Tula children's collection and can be a very interesting addition to it. It is currently undergoing final verification and refinement of details for mass production.
In addition, the VOX brand is considering implementing a second idea: the Modiway universal secretary. It allows you to work in a sitting or standing position, and its form makes it possible to symbolically close the piece of furniture after finishing work, marking the boundary between professional and personal life.
For more information, visit the company 'sVOX page on thePdA portal.