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Krystyna’s collection is worth hundreds of thousands of zlotys and could be considered as one of the records of the history of Polish design. In cooperation with yestersen, she decided to make part of her collection available for sale. Discover her take on the history of Polish design and get a piece of Krystyna’s unique collection.


"For two decades, I've been working in a profession that doesn't exist in Poland,'' says Krystyna Łuczak-Surówka. She graduated in the Institute of Art History at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and was the first in the history of the faculty to defend  her thesis on the history of Polish design. Today, she is one of the most respected experts in design in Poland and, privately, a collector of 20th century design.

Despite the fate of Poland in the 20th century, Polish design flourished, leaving us well-known iconic designs and a heritage of new shapes and materials. But more recently, driven by some kind of nostalgia, there has been a change in the attitude towards design in Poland. Nowadays, designs are being dusted out of family attics and used again. Contemporary designers are giving a new life to old designs.


The 20th century was the Golden age of Polish design and prospered from 1956 to 1965, boosted by the creation of schools like the Industrial Design Institute. The 1950’s were a highly creative period. Whilst folk screen-printing started to become popular, new glass and ceramics industries were starting to emerge. Pottery was starting to be mass produced and printed rather than hand-painted, designed at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Wrocław for everyday use. Ceramics played an important role too, defined by porcelain organic figurines. Pieces that, half a century after, continue to inspire contemporary designers and are still produced by Ćmielów. In Krystyna Łuczak-Surówka’s collection we can find a representation of the most meaningful objects in the Polish history design: vases, figurines, kilims and armchairs.

How did your adventure with collecting begin?
How did your adventure with collecting begin?

How did your adventure with collecting begin?

I was a student at the art high school in Krakow when I first fell in love… with an object. It was a lamp with a very vibrant color. I thought about it for a long time, and finally made up my mind. I was determined to have it even if it meant spending my high school savings. I still remember the feeling of satisfaction when it was mine. That's why I keep saying that the most important thing in an object is the emotion that connects us with it, the moment we feel that something belongs to us.
How do you select items for your collection?
How do you select items for your collection?

How do you select items for your collection?

I'm an emotional collector. When I see an item that I feel attached to, I buy it straight away. I've lost precious items before because I thought about buying them for too long. My collection is constantly changing. I display objects in groups and move them around to see how they look better. I use items from the collection every day, which sometimes makes my guests nervous. They are scared something will break.

Besides furniture, what else can we find in your collection?

I am a big fan of glass. I believe there is magic in this material and it therefore it has an important place in my collection. For glass to be created, it takes the elements, especially fire, and people – a designer with clear ideas, a technologist who will make unique colors in the glass, a person who makes the molten glass and a glassmith who gives shape to the pieces.

I have an even greater weakness for vases – made of glass, ceramic... the material does not matter. I believe that the vase is not only a practical item: its form is a work of art for me.


If you were to choose one item that can completely change an interior, what would it be?

Many objects have that superpower, but if I had to choose one, it would be a lamp. It will tell you who the host really is – especially if he has a sense of humor. One always needs light.  The lamp from my collection, that I pass on, is also such a unique element. The cosmic form, the construction on a tripod and the impression that it is made of wicker – although it is made of plastic. I have seen this project only twice in my life - and counting on the times I’ve seen some objects, it's definitely a rare one.

What should one take into account when decorating an interior?
What should one take into account when decorating an interior?

What should one take into account when decorating an interior?

The most important thing is to remember who you are. When looking for inspiration, it is not about specific objects and ideas and copying ready-made solutions. The most important is the meaning: why we liked something, what makes this interior or object so special that we can not forget about it.

When I visit someone, I behave a little like a bodyguard and look for people who behave differently, and I look for objects that stand out from the interior, are different, sometimes not quite right. These are the objects with which emotions are connected – the memory of a grandmother, an important moment in life, a moment of change. These objects are probably the host's greatest friends, and I immediately know a little more about them. Probably even more than they would like to tell me.

Every item in your collection has a history for you. Won’t you miss them when they find new owners?

Passing on selected objects from my collection, I decided to put up for sale those that I have copies of like a sofa, a bookcase or a newspaper rack by Rajmund Hałas. His furniture set has been my dream since I met the artist many years ago – he was not only an outstanding Polish furniture designer, but also a storyteller and gentleman. Hałas's projects show his ability to take into account the small opportunities offered by industry in the times of the Polish People's Republic. Keeping in mind the requirements of mass production and the economy preferences of industry from that period, he was able to offer simple, functional and still delightful solutions.

What was so special about Hałas’s designs?

They show a carefully planned project and simple at the same time, which was, and still is, one of the biggest challenges for a designer. The folding sofa from the 1329 combined set consists of just a few elements: two cushions, three wooden joints, six screws and beautifully veneered side elements, which give the whole an individual, dynamic character. An extremely interesting piece of furniture, that also met the requirements of production in the communist times. This is the sofa that you may find in my collection. It is also very popular on Pinterest and I have been told it is really comfortable as well.

An extremely interesting piece of furniture, that also met the requirements of production in the communist times. This is the sofa that you may find in my collection. It is also very popular on Pinterest and I have been told it is really comfortable as well. 


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