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Interview with Małgosia Załuska - laureate of make me! 2018 competition



Małgorzata Załuska

How did you come up with the idea of creating the “Simpla” prosthesis – a project that won the main Paradyż Award during the “make me!” competition in 2018?
“Simpla” is my master's degree project. I saw the final year of my studies as the last moment in which I could take some risk while taking on any issue. At the Faculty of Design in the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw it is a student’s decision to choose the diploma subject. I knew mine already when I started my master's course. A person close to me had undergone a unilateral mastectomy a few years ago. I was there during the illness and then saw her recovering. Being an active person, she often complained to me that the external prosthesis interfered with her everyday activities and exercises. In the case of mastectomy some women decide to undergo reconstructive surgery, while others choose external breast prostheses. I came across the results of research stating that on average 1 in 8 women (in some parts of the world even 1 in 6) suffered from or would suffer from breast cancer in their lives.
I started working on the project in the spring of 2017, together with the Amazon that I mentioned earlier. I noticed what was a problem for her in her daily and physical activities, and we talked a lot. Relying on conversation with the Amazon for whom I was designing a prosthesis, and on entries from an Amazon forum, I was able to identify some issues related to wearing a breast prosthesis, such as skin allergies, chafes and a bent figure. I tried to find an alternative. However, the biggest challenge for me was the strong connection between the prosthesis and the medical area. One of my main goals was for the prosthesis to resemble the body not in appearance, but in the way it behaves.

How does your work on “Simpla” look at the moment?
I knew that “Simpla” is worth developing after winning this year's “make me!” Designing is a process that can be unpredictable and sometimes escapes certain measurable values (perhaps this is its charm?). After developing the concept that was the subject of my diploma, I started another creative process - refinement. It took a long time to plan the next steps. Innovative projects are so difficult to implement because there is no kind of guide on which you can rely. The project is technologically and logistically complex. On the one hand, working on the unprecedented matter is fascinating; on the other hand it can be very demanding, sometimes even overwhelming. Since graduation I’ve had more design duties and the work system has had to be reorganized. As a result I have to develop “Simpla” while working at a daily job in a design studio, and at the same time I'm working on starting my own business. The most important thing for me is the fact that I’ve started the next stage of work to bring “Simpla” closer to its potential implementation. Due to the conceptuality and intimate nature of the project, until the end of this phase I will work on it independently. Currently I’m focused on simplifying the entire process of prosthesis model formation. I am considering other ways to generate structures. I want to finish the concept refining phase using prototypes made of a different material, perhaps the final one to use in creating “Simpla”. This would allow me to proceed to the testing phase.

What’s next for “Simpla” after its presentation at the post-competition exhibition during the 2018 Łódź Design Festival?
At the moment it is difficult to demonstrate to potential users as it does not have the expected properties yet. This project is very intimate; I can’t imagine having a conversation solely on the basis of the appearance of the prosthesis. Above all, it has to be touched, even tried on. I see no other way than to create an alternative prototype - made of a different material that will show much better physical properties. I’m developing the project in order to be able to demonstrate a specific offer to interested parties as well as specialists. It’s a big responsibility when a student project is to become reality. If the research confirms that the idea is a valid one, I will consistently strive to implement it.

Did the main Paradyż Award in the “make me!” contest (50,000 PLN) prove to be helpful in the development of the "Simpla" project?
It definitely helps me in developing the project. In the concept phase I didn’t focus on refining the way the prosthesis was created - the prototype was made in a more complicated way than the project assumed. Selected software turned out to be insufficient, as "Simpla" requires the use of parametric design. I am currently focusing on learning software that will allow me to simplify the whole process – it’s called “Simpla” for a reason ;)
The prize obviously provides not only material support, but also a huge dose of trust and faith in the project. Thanks to “make me!” I felt that I have a real chance to execute my idea, and in the future it could really help to improve the quality of women's lives.

What is the public opinion? Does the project meet with their favour?
The project has so far received much support in Poland and abroad. This year it was presented at four exhibitions, and it met with great interest among visitors (respectively: Graduation Projects in Cieszyn, make me! during 2018 Łódź Design Festival, Warsaw Academy Of Fine Arts as part of Wrocław Design Week, Global Grad Show at Dubai Design Week). I think I’ve found a hot topic, but from the very beginning my goal was to create a genuine alternative for Amazons. It is a great honour and it makes me happy that "Simpla" is so eagerly shown and reviewed.
I am aware that the prototype is visually attractive and that it combines some of the widely discussed, important topics. By combining these features, however, it is often perceived as a finished product. In fact, I would like to be able to present a done solution. Therefore I’m trying to successfully finish the next stage of the project, so that I can start a reasonable discussion about it.
I am also aware that the project seems attractive for the media. I’ve talked about it with many people of all ages. Interestingly, healthy women receive it very positively. The most critical group are its potential users, who only after a longer conversation admit to being Amazons. Their remarks are most valuable for me. I am aware, however, that all the discussions took place based on a prototype that looked perfect, but did not show the full range of functional values and characteristics of the used material. Talking about a prototype that cannot be tested is different. That's why I care so much about the next trials.

How is the "Simpla" project perceived on the foreign market?
"Simpla" is not a finished product yet, so instead of discussing the foreign market, let me talk about its reception. A month ago the project was presented at the Global Grad Show in Dubai. This is a worldwide exhibition presenting diploma projects from around the world. At this year's edition you could see 150 diploma projects from 45 different countries and nearly 100 universities. The participants of the event were graduates in fields of study related to art, design, engineering or technology. The curator of the exhibition, Brandan McGetrick, emphasized that the key to selecting projects was their innovativeness and sensitivity to problems of the modern world. The Global Grad Show exhibition allowed me to present "Simpla" abroad for the first time. 

Are you working on some new project after participating in the “make me!” contest?
I am in the process of developing the Bure Studio which I’ve created together with Przemek Zembura. We want to combine design and educational activities. Together we run Projektowanie Rzemieślników (Handcraft Design) - a social innovation started as part of the Transferhub incubator. During its first edition we managed to furnish the interior of a socially involved Warsaw pastry shop. The furniture designed by us together with Maria Gajewska was made by technical school students. Some of them made their own utility object for the very first time. Since winning the main Paradyż Award during the 2018 “make me!” contest, I have often heard that I should dedicate myself to medical design. However, I don't want to limit myself to only one field. The variety of topics is helping me keep my projects balanced; it supports my mindfulness and commitment.

Biography:

Małgorzata Załuska (born 1991 in Warsaw) - designer, graduate of the Design Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. She completed her master's degree project "Simpla" in 2017 in the studio of Daniel Zielinski, PhD. Winner of the main PARADYŻ AWARD during “make me!” 2018, a winner of Graduation Projects 2018. Co-founder of the Takładnie design co-operative.

 

Website: www.mmzaluska.wixsite.com/portfolio


Instagram: @mmzalu @burestudio

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designer: Małgorzata Załuska @mmzalu photographer: Bartek Suchoń @bartek_rouky art direction, set design: Małgorzata Załuska @mmzalu Przemek Zembura @przemzem Bure Studio @burestudio photographer's assistant: Bazyli Czern @fransuapolonez




How did you come up with the idea of creating the “Simpla” prosthesis – a project that won the main Paradyż Award during the “make me!” competition in 2018?
“Simpla” is my master's degree project. I saw the final year of my studies as the last moment in which I could take some risk while taking on any issue. At the Faculty of Design in the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw it is a student’s decision to choose the diploma subject. I knew mine already when I started my master's course. A person close to me had undergone a unilateral mastectomy a few years ago. I was there during the illness and then saw her recovering. Being an active person, she often complained to me that the external prosthesis interfered with her everyday activities and exercises. In the case of mastectomy some women decide to undergo reconstructive surgery, while others choose external breast prostheses. I came across the results of research stating that on average 1 in 8 women (in some parts of the world even 1 in 6) suffered from or would suffer from breast cancer in their lives.
I started working on the project in the spring of 2017, together with the Amazon that I mentioned earlier. I noticed what was a problem for her in her daily and physical activities, and we talked a lot. Relying on conversation with the Amazon for whom I was designing a prosthesis, and on entries from an Amazon forum, I was able to identify some issues related to wearing a breast prosthesis, such as skin allergies, chafes and a bent figure. I tried to find an alternative. However, the biggest challenge for me was the strong connection between the prosthesis and the medical area. One of my main goals was for the prosthesis to resemble the body not in appearance, but in the way it behaves.