We have collaborated on preparing The Common Roots: Design Map of Central Europe exhibition at Design Museum Holon. Inside this exhibition catalogue you can find several texts on history and today design scene in Central Europe.
Curated by Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka and other several co-curators, The Common Roots: Design Map of Central Europe exhibition at Design Museum Holon in Israel explores contemporary as well as historical design from Central Europe in common themes and contexts.
Common Roots exhibition, which is now on display in both galleries of Design Museum Holon, built by designer and architect Ron Arad three years ago, try to document nature of Central European design scene and find contexts and similarities between 10 participating countries. The fact that the geo-political term of Central Europe is not so easy to define, plays important role in the selection of participating countries. In the installation you can find "typical" central European countries such as Czech republic, Slovakia, Poland or Hungary, but also more north situated countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or at the other hand more eastern countries, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia. At the end, the strongest criterions in the selection were the fact that all the countries from the area have collective modern history regarding to former eastern bloc and political development. Also all the countries entered European Union in 2004 or 2007. "At the same time, despite their differences, Central European countries belong to a clearly defined region shaped by shared historical and cultural experiences. From this perspective, the term Central European design may be used independently of political, national, or other divisions Yet what exactly are the borders of this design world, and what criteria may be used to define it?", explains process of selection of countries Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka.
The exhibition is divided not only by countries, but also by several themes common for all the countries. Themes of Lasting Tradition, Folk Attraction, New Elegance, New Democracy or Ironic Joke represent more or less common roots of the designers working in the Central Europe with the collective historical and political context. Most of the exhibits present more experimental and self-initiated forms of product, interior or furniture design.
The highlights include consistent work of Czech designers such as Maxim Velčovský and his ironic porcelain stuff created for studio Qubus around the years 2002 and 2005. His Ornament and Crime porcelain bust showing Lenin head covering with the traditional Czech decorative pattern is an emblematic for the post-communist trauma and critical nostalgia which is still actual in the landscape of Central or Eastern Europe. Another Czech designers such as Martin Žampach, Olgoj Chorchoj, Lucie Koldová, Jan Čapek or Klára Šumová have globalized Czech design with the internationally influencing work done in the last 10 years.
The biggest national section of the exhibition comes from Poland, where Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka and Klara Czerniewska found diverse works from globally well-known Oskar Zieta and his experimental metal furniture to the craft-based products by Beza Projekt, Malafor or Matylda Krzykowski and many more. Craft and local folk tradition play important role in the work of designers from Estonia, Hungary, Romania as well as other countries. Estonian Rijada studio shows its wicker work, such as Duck Toy, or Hungarian A+Z Design presents their Gypsy collection inspired by nomadic life and folk tradition of Gypsies. Most of the exhibited work is strongly associated with the traditions and possibilities of the local production.