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Once more closely associated with production and manufacturing, Poland is emerging as a real contender when it comes to design – “Designed in Poland” is starting to mean as much as “Made in Poland”. I headed over to Lodz (pronounced Woodge!) Design Festival to find out more. One of the highlights was meeting Polish design superstar Oskar Zieta.

Lodz Design Festival

It was great to see Oskar’s Plopp Chair (an iteration of the iconic Plopp Stool) alongside British designer Tom Dixon’s pendant lights – copper is clearly en vogue! Oskar was there to share his newest technology – he seam welds two sheets of metal together and the user receives the product flat-packed and sealed with the ‘secret potion’ locked inside. When heated to a temperature of 200ºC, which the customer can do at home, the product transforms from a two-dimensional object into a bulbous, three-dimensional form. It was a lot of fun watching him demonstrate!

Lodz Design Festival

Slightly subverting the festival’s theme of Brave New World, Daniel Charny, Director at London design studio From Now On, curated an exhibition called Brave New Fixed World, to counter the ‘ending is better than mending’ slogan of the Aldous Huxley novel. Above: Sugru, a self-setting rubber that can be hand-formed, bonds to almost anything and turns into a strong, flexible silicone rubber overnight.

Lodz Design Festival

Unfold and Kirschner 3D worked together to create a Digital Calliper, used here together with 3D printing to turn a glass vase and a pencil into a jug.

Lodz Design Festival

Hal Watts designed Esource to enable people in developing nations to recover valuable metals from discarded objects more safely.

Lodz Design Festival

The Redone coffee maker by the Redo Studio is made by rehousing salvaged parts in cork. The Redo Studio was established by Gaspard Tine-Beres and Tristan Kopp to investigate alternative production methods, with the aim of reducing the cycle between the manufacturer and the end user.

Lodz Design Festival

Within the main building of the Lodz Design Festival, a former textiles factory, was the “Test Zone”, an area where visitors could try out manufacturing processes and experiment with materials themselves.

Lodz Design Festival

It was really interesting to see how laminated wood is immersed in water and then wound between vertical pegs to create soft curves…

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…and then to see that process applied in Jan Lutyk’s Ribbon chair.

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Elsewhere in the building, there was a photography exhibition by artist and photographer Charlie Koolhaas, drawing parallels between five cities: Dubai, Guangzhou, Lagos, Houston, and London, and reflecting on the impact of globalization and what it really means.

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And finally, Konkrety by Alicja Patanowska were simple concrete forms cast in lemonade bottles.

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven writer and keynote speaker championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.