Polarisation – Gdynia Design Days 2019

I always visit my hometown Gdynia in July. Seeing family and friends combined with Opener Music Festival and Gdynia Design Days are the best holidays for me. The great value of this Design Festival is that it is focused on the society, especially on recent changes and their impact on our everyday life and our future. The exhibitions are focused on human being therefore they speak up to brother audience. Looking at design objects or projects you feel it is not about the item, it is about you.  

The main exhibition during  Gdynia Design Festival was touching upon the problem of finding balance between “me” and “we”. In our modern society for the individual his needs and desires become priority. What do I want? Is it good for me? Am I happy?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with self-development and finding sense of life but somehow the more we focus on us the less relationship we create and maintain. Can the happiness of “me” exist without the happiness of “we”? We have to be careful not to tilt the scale too much to one side. Lots of problems in our world can be solved if we rejoin as a community. The projects presented on this exhibition make you wonder where do you stand on this topic. Can we be happy on our own or is it worthy to share this feeling with others?

The exhibition “The body on crossroads” which was quite a visual shocker for me is dedicated to our “body” and how it polarises the modern society. One group wants to preserve its originality while the other one, which is much more present in the commercial world and in the social media, wants to use the plastic surgery, bioengineering, artificial intelligence and other digital technologies to improve our appearance. What we see is definitely not what we get in reality. Starting with filters in photo apps, using bots for the trendy make-up, a virtual supermodel Shudu, designing your baby by changing genes. The fact that we long for another image of ourselves is scaring me. Happily there are projects like The real Catwalk, Sexual Healing or Tree Change Dolls which embrace the natural beauty and well being of our body.

The topic of the climate change, strongly connected with producing and recycling waste, was also present during Gdynia Design Days.  The global, excessive consumption is fatal for the environment. We can do just fine with much less. The exhibition “2 degrees” makes us aware of how important it is what we buy in everyday life. Starting from a toilette paper, detergents, clothes, food etc. It shows that we can make a difference with small steps every day.

The “No more Waste” exhibition showed what we would normally consider as waste can be in fact a valuable resource. Both, big corporations and individual designers think about the issue of reusing and recycling the unwanted side effect of mass production. Vases made of flip-flops collected from beaches in Nairobi, PET Lamp project by Alvaro Catalán de Ocón which gained a world wide recognition, running shoes by Adidas – all these projects prove that waste is waste no more.

Another exhibition which drew my attention called “The wave of changes” was the voice of young generation of designers, the graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts in Karakow. Students prepared their works reflecting on the postulates of Andrzej Pawłowski, the founder of the Faculty of Industrial Design. His text “Initiations” written 40 years ago is still very present and inspiring. In the global world with mass production and excessive consumption his theses gain a greater meaning. His manifesto encourages designers to be aware of the social problems and to act in responsible way. During creative process decisions should be based on empathy and common sense, the designer ought to predict the actual consequences of his action. This is a very important massage for the young generation of designers.

The exhibitions that I’ve seen during Gdynia Design Festival this year have undoubtedly one message in common. In the modern world we have to decide which side we are on. It’s up to us if we want to change our future. Be aware, act responsible, move by small steps, give up your obsession to posses.

All photos by Asia K.

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