A Thing for Art – Design in Kraków

Saturday, November 4, 2023 - Thursday, November 30, 2023

  • Saturday, November 4, 2023 - Thursday, November 30, 2023

Crafts, tradition, art, design - these are the topics that the initiatives proposed as part of this year's sixth edition of the "A Thing for Art – Design in Kraków" project focus on.

The sixth edition of the project “A Thing for Art – Design in Kraków“ – organised by the Department of Culture and National Heritage of the Municipal Office of Kraków, with close support from KBF for the first time – is held under the banner of Instrumentality. “The recent increase in interest in handiwork, arts, crafts and design show that we need authenticity and uniqueness more than ever,” says Katarzyna Olesiak, director of the department. “Good design is priceless in today’s globalised and digitised world. In ‘A Thing for Art’, we are turning our attention to people who take matters in their own hands and bring unique ideas and objects, originating in human passion and creativity, into our lives,” she adds. Held over the course of a month, events are mainly focused on four weekends in November.

Art and design fair
Want to live in a world which follows your aesthetic principles and which isn’t filled with identikit products from global chains? The answer is the annual Nówka Sztuka Art and Design Fair. Held at the Palace of Art  on the first weekend of November (4–5 Nov), the informal atmosphere abounds with dozens of unique contemporary works made by up-and-coming and acclaimed artists, reaching for a variety of techniques and styles. As well as buying your favourite items, you can get to know their makers and learn the stories behind their creation. This year we will see a new section presenting artists with links to Kraków. Meetings and lectures, aimed at artists and potential collectors, form an important part of the event.
The accompanying events, held at the Potocki Palace, will focus on materiality and non-materiality in contemporary art. Speakers and guests invited to participate in discussions include experts from a range of fields: Cem A., artist and curator best known for running the @freeze_magazine artistic meme Instagram account, and Paweł Pinio and Marek Zabicki from Arteïa. Kamila Bodnar, Karolina Plinta and Robert Sowa, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, talk about contemporary challenges and opportunities in professional and artistic development in Poland, while Katarzyna Sagatowska, photographer, lecturer and curator, and Anna Olszewska from the Museum of Photography, discuss photography collection.

Art & Craft Weekend
In the wake of the political and social changes of 1989, we were all enthralled by mass-produced goods; however, the growing popularity of vintage products is driving demand for unique items. Furniture and trinkets which we were discarding readily just a few years ago are now soaring in price in online auctions and inspiring contemporary designers. Many used to be produced in cult factories in Kraków, some of which are now sadly defunct. “Kraków is a city of fantastic cultural heritage, craft and design with roots reaching back to the period of Kraków Workshops in the 1910 and homegrown Modernism, as well as the region’s non-material heritage, including folk culture,” explain the organisers. “We want to show off these achievements and the individuals who reach for them to expand our understanding of design.” Held on the third weekend of November (18–19 Nov), the Art & Craft Weekend brings together myriad promotional activities. Events and workshops are organised by representatives of some of Kraków’s longest-running businesses, such as the Stained Glass Workshop and Museum. With traditions dating back over a century, its expert craftsmen will help participants through all stages of making their own creations: from selecting colours, cutting and polishing glass, to framing and soldering. Although the Kraków Glassworks is no longer operational, it continues to popularise the history and technology of glasswork arts through its educational and cultural programmes and exhibitions. Participants of all ages will learn the secrets of handmaking unique glass items.
The weekend programme also includes activities by Kraków’s more recent initiatives which help various age groups develop their creativity; they include private art studios, foundations, associations, cultural centres and the Faculty of Industrial Forms at the Academy of Fine Arts. Many activities recall the achievements of the Kraków Workshops Association, founded in 1913 by artists, architects, craftsmen and social activists aiming to improve the artistic quality of production. The association reached for methods resembling folk arts, original materials, production means and simple tools which would be used by trained artists to create new values. Under the watchful eye of experienced artists and educators we will learn how to make environmentally-friendly toys, Christmas decorations, lampshades and printed fabrics, and discover how to breathe new life into used items. Since this year marks the 550th anniversary of the printing press in Poland, the event naturally features printmaking and lithography workshops. The cherry on the cake that is the Art & Craft Weekend will be the Vintage Fair and Retro Kogel Mogel at Hevre.

Design in Kraków
Two weekends in November (11-12 and 25-26 Nov) will be filled with lectures, debates and workshops organised by KBF as part of the Design in Kraków festival at the Pharmacy of Design. This brand-new space on Kraków’s map will form a part of the transformation of Wesoła into a creative district. The former hospital pharmacy is now a design centre and open creative laboratory where architecture, web design and industrial design and technologies intertwine with social activism. You can read more about the district’s history, ongoing changes and development plans on p. 58; the themes of this year’s Design in Kraków focus on values centred around building a society responsible for the common good. The motto Community refers to the idea of bringing the former pharmacy back to life and a broader context of the function of Wesoła as a future creative district. An important role is played by the community of designers, whose mission is sustainable design focusing on users’ needs. Design in Kraków provides a space for meetings and integration of Cracovian circles: “We are proud that this year’s lecturers will be designers with ties to our city and shaping its diversity,” explain the organisers. We will also meet guests from abroad, including Mykola Skyba from the Kharkiv School of Architecture and Jasmin Schauer from Kunstgewerbemuseum in Dresden. Meetings and debates will be streamed online to reach an even broader audience. Accompanying events include an exchange of books on design and an exhibition.

Even more events
The month-long programme aimed at all kinds of audiences also features this year’s instalment of the Design Forum: the Debut Zone includes an exhibition which have been supporting up-and-coming artists for the last six years. This year’s A Thing for Art sees the exhibition about Nowa Huta district by the Liberty Art Foundation, Dystans Gallery presents an exhibition of Cracovian sculpture and ceramics, and the Sosenko Art Decor Gallery hosts a presentation of Polish glass and ceramics from the second half of the 20th century. The traditional eco-friendly architectural workshops for children are hosted by Miarologia at the Centre of Quality Systems of the Kraków University of Technology. 

You’ll find the full programme of A Thing for Art on the event’s Facebook page. Note: registration is required for certain events!

For whom: for children, for seniors, for families
Other: free admission
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