It’s time we stopped producing more and faster, and started producing better and more carefully.
We are living in uncertain times
As we move into the 21st century, it is a special time for humanity. Our impact on the environment has increased to the point of causing irreparable damage. The consumption of fossil fuels, higher concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, rising sea levels, the depletion of non-renewable resources and the unsustainable use of renewable raw materials, the littering the environment with plastics and the decreasing efficiency of energy generation system are just a few of the challenges we are currently facing.
The sheer number and complexity of the problems make it increasingly difficult to identify a single solution, and each individual decision we make as a consumer or a professional brings with it uncertainty about its impact on the environment, and therefore on our future.
Similar challenges are faced by producers. They struggle on a daily basis with decisions on how to respond to the demands of a market that, in addition to demanding low price, high quality and aesthetics, is also increasingly expecting ethics and corporate responsibility, for example in the form of certification relating to the environmental impact, or the use of recycled materials in production.
It is also becoming increasingly important to design places and objects in a way that was not previously obvious – so that they motivate us to try harder, to show self-restraint, to change our behaviour and our habits, or maybe to aid concentration and focus, stimulate creativity or provide an opportunity to relax quickly.
As the organisers of the Łódź Design Festival, we support efforts aimed at actively improving the quality of our lives, testing new projects, improving existing solutions and creating products better suited to today’s world. We believe that society has found itself in a place where it is impossible to simply stop, step back from the conveniences brought by the progress of civilisation and return to the mythical state of nature. Can the solution to our most pressing issues come in the form of planned post-growth, the design of new methods of producing and using consumer goods and a breakthrough in the creation of new materials, or perhaps even another industrial revolution?
The festival becomes a hybrid event
When we were deciding on whether to postpone this year’s festival, we all agreed that it must become something different. Without cancelling the event, we decided to adapt to the new expectations of the audience, and to meet the challenges related to their safety. Therefore, we are combining the virtual with the real, the artistic with the mass produced, presenting new products and prototypes that are not afraid to experiment, and promoting the best Polish implementations with our own critical analysis of their functionality.
We have opted for this form of hybridity as it allows us to take care of what is most important right now. Everything we do will primarily have safety in mind; sometimes going over the top, but that is what we want to do. In specially arranged containers, located in public spaces, we will display the most important exhibitions of this year’s festival.
The two targeted projects for the festival – must have and make me! – will be the first to appear in Manufaktura and Monopolis, Łódź’s crowded, post-industrial locations that have taken on new office, retail and entertainment functions and are unlike anywhere else in the world.
For ten years now, the must have plebiscite has singled out the best Polish products by Polish designers and manufacturers, reflecting the most important trends in local design. must have is also a free mark of quality that Polish companies can use at home and abroad. Submissions to the contest are open and free of charge. The Council of Experts will also review the market and nominate products that they think should also be in the contest. Several dozen of the best designed products from among all the submissions and nominations will be selected for the mark of quality, and this year as many as 50 of them will be presented at an exhibition accompanying the contest. This will stand in the Manufaktura public square, one of the most popular places in Łódź, and will undoubtedly show even more people the value of supporting local designs. Knowing that solutions have been prepared by specialists gives users a sense of security, and an awareness that their choices meet the highest standards of aesthetics, health and comfort.
Due to the outbreak of the pandemic, we decided to extend the entry date for this year’s make me! contest, giving young designers a chance to find themselves in this new reality. In total, we received as many as 268 entries from all over the world, which were then evaluated by an international jury. The make me! exhibition, held in the Monopolis courtyard, will be a presentation of the best works selected in the contest. The creators of the most interesting projects will also receive Paradyż Awards, funded by our competition partner – Ceramica Paradyż. The total Paradyż prize pool this year is PLN 60,000, with an additional special prize of PLN 5 000 funded by INTERPRINT Polska.
The make me! project also involves a laboratory, a special experimental space. The awarded products are put through complex and unusual challenges. However, the evaluation of the works by the jury, and their presentation in the competition, is only the beginning of the road. The potential of the products is then verified by producers and investors, who are very keen to cooperate with the finalists of this project, the only one of its kind in Poland. In this way, we help the creators of innovative, often breakthrough solutions to find support for their ideas.
We will also be presenting our MATRICE project in containers, which is a big departure from the type of exhibitions we are accustomed to at festivals. This is not due to any idealistic change to the elements of our reality; it is a response to real needs, to what is happening here and now. Lockdown gave us a strong example of how big a problem is the human mental condition. Everything seems to indicate that we will be increasingly accompanied by anxieties, fears and frustration, we will be working more and under more stress. The idea of MATRICE is to create a space where we can control all the stimuli reaching our senses. The project is being developed by a team of experts headed by Joanna Jurga, one of the best Polish specialists in designing comfort and a sense of security.
Adding to the previously completed projects – a ceramic mural and an unusual city bench –this year’s edition will add further city spaces open to all the residents of Łódź, three delightful rain gardens. This is a functional and aesthetic example of a solution to a specific problem, so important for concreted towns, as a way of improving water retention and of preventing both floods and droughts. We will not only focus on the construction of the gardens, but we will also invite anyone who would like to participate to workshops on their creation, and will publish instructions for trying one yourself.
We would like to treat all events in this way – the physical presentation will be complemented by high quality materials published online, such as videos, photos, 3D tours, extensive publications and podcasts, which we have been working on for months.
Follow our website and Facebook and Instagram accounts. In the further posts we will let you know about the upcoming elements of the 14th Łódź Design Festival. However, we can already tell you that one of the most visited parts of last year’s edition, namely the Zasoby project, will be coming back. Through this project, we will prove that there is no need to waste oil when other production is possible. This year, the exhibition will focus on waste, leftovers and pollution. An extraordinary exhibition, entitled Progress does not exist will be prepared for us by the members of NÓW, one of the most significant associations in Poland, bringing together young and unique craftsmen who are not afraid to experiment. Certainly, many people will also be happy to know that, early in September, we will be revealing what the most talented Polish illustrators have prepared this time around, having enchanted the audience last year with their Dictionary of good “łodzianisms” (words typical for the city of Łódź). There will also be all the traditional elements at ŁDF, including the incomparable Filip Springer leading ARCHIBLOK for the fifth time!
The organisation of the Łódź Design Festival is possible thanks to support from Łódzkie Centrum Wydarzeń (Łódź Events Centre) and the City of Łódź. ŁDF is co-financed by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage from the Cultural Promotion Fund.