Contemporary design reflects changes occurring in our everyday reality – changes in the ways we think, make things, and consume. In order to bring them closer to you, we start the Design Trends cycle which will be devoted the global scale events and the influence they have on our everyday lives. The author of the articles, Justyna Strociak*, equipped with a pen and a camera, will be visiting local workshops and ingenious creators. Though focusing on the local, her articles won’t lack a more global theoretical framework. It’s a must-read!
Photo: The originators of Zakład (from the left): Żaneta Przepiera, Zofia Machowiak, Agata Pakieła, Paweł Janowski / Zakład
Text: Justyna Strociak
Design Trends: Do It Yourself!
On the one hand – words such as globalization, overproduction and hyperconsumerism suggest there’s too many things being made. On the other – search engines’ most popular questions begin with nothing but “How to make…”. Sounds illogical? Quite the opposite! Creating things is a perfect response to overproduction; reality itself forces us to admit we should “Do It Ourselves!” instead of buying the already done.
The DIY trend has been doing well for the last 30 years, but now, it is gaining a new dimension. There has been a turn from the idea of creating by means of templates and models towards a more individual approach to creation. Thanks to it, we can witness the emergence of a culture of conscious consumers. Objects bear greater significance for us – we appreciate not only their usability, but also attach to them emotionally in various ways. As consumers, we go as far as to dream about even the tiniest possibility of controlling the production process. We want objects to be unique, carefully made and tailored to our needs.
Internet enables us to exchange information quickly; therefore, it fosters the culture of sharing. Internet users inspire one another, share their projects and give advice on a local and global scale. All of it boosts our spirits and encourages us to take action. A strong need for self-realization makes us willing to take everything into our hands. We decide what our future should look like, and what we should eat for dinner – only local products from producers we trust. The value of people lies in their ability to create – not in their possessions.
The DIY culture in Poland has its roots in our country’s troubled history – the Communist era made people dependent on their manual skills. An iconic figure of Adam Słodowy, the do-it-yourself propagator, used to foster in adults and children the need to create by showing ingenious methods of tackling the shortage of products. Thanks to him, the audience got acquainted with various tools and materials by means of which they were able to create something out of nothing.
The DIY trend has been all the rage these days. All over the world, maker spaces and labs of every description, places where people can use materials and machines for their own needs, are springing like weeds. One of them, a place called Zakład, is located in Jeżyce, the most inspirational of Poznań’s districts. In an interview with Justyna Strociak, Paweł Janowski, one of the originators of Zakład, gives us some insights into the workings of this fascinating place.
Tell us about yourself. Where did the idea of creating Zakład come from?
In the past I used to work with computers and within areas such as programming or graphic design, but recently I’ve started to develop my DIY skills. Unfortunately, my home space was too small to start acting seriously; I didn’t have any machines and tools either. Hence, the idea emerged to create a suitable space outside my house. Besides, I was thoroughly inspired by places such as TechShop or Maker Space that operate in, for example, Berlin and the United States. I and my friends created a foundation hoping that Zakład would hit the bull’s eye as the idea of maker spaces was unknown in Poland, let alone Poznań.
How did you find a perfect space?
We visited a few dozen places – each of which was small, uninteresting, humid and moldy. At last, our friend Zosia recommended that we go to a place on the premises of the former printing house in Poznań. So we did go there, had a look and, luckily, our search was finished.
How does Zakład function?
It has four basic functions. First of them is connected with the so called Makerspace – a space with specified working hours, where everybody can come to make or fix something without making any previous arrangements. The second function is all about workshops and trainings during which you can acquire specific skills such as sewing or welding. Thirdly, there is co-working which is basically about people running their businesses in Zakład. They have their working spaces here available for them at any time. The fourth function is connected with services. If someone needs, for example, furniture, we can suggest some clever solutions. There are various specialists available on the spot, so we are able to thoroughly approach every task.
What kinds of people come to Zakład?
The largest group consists of people who are 25-40 years old and spend most of their days in front of a computer. In Zakład, they can get out of a rut by welding, for example. It’s pure relaxation! There are also people who come and offer help. Despite the fact we’ve been operating for a year now, there’s still much to do. We have our goals and do everything to reach them. At present we are building sand spreader and I’m sure there will be a group of people willing to help us. Recently we’ve organized workshops entitled “Seniors in action” that attracted lots of older gentlemen. We are open to a broad spectrum of people, and indeed, a broad spectrum of people visits us. The youth, adults, the elderly. Even children come to us and eagerly engage in activities.
Is it necessary to have a specific knowledge of how the machines in Zakład work in order to use them?
The permission to access machines is given gradually; some of them cannot be used right away by a lay person. Therefore, at times there is the possibility of learning how to use more complicated machines from specialists on duty. It’s also possible to attend workshops that occur cyclically and are run by professionals from various areas. Some of the professionals came to us by themselves and expressed willingness to cooperate, but we had to look for the rest. Sometimes it is really difficult to convince people to share their knowledge, though it’s a very individual matter. Some people want to share, others – not so much. To give an example – sewing workshops are hosted by a woman who has been running a tailoring business for 20 years, while Mr. Irek, who’s been a welder for 35 years, is in charge of welding workshops. Both workshops have won immense popularity which reflects in the fact that passes sell like hot cakes in 15 minutes!
On what basis are new workshops organized?
Part of workshops is being organized as a result of people’s interests in specific subjects. If one in ten asks about upholstery or furniture renovation workshops, they’re worth considering.
In your opinion, where is such an interest in Zakład coming from?
I think we fit current trends according to which people want to produce something uniquely theirs, something that will make them stand out. They believe it’s fun to create on their own, they have an idea and make it real.
Thank you for the conversation!
Through its activity, Zakład proves that the “Do It Yourself!” motto is doing great and does not lose its significance. Go there and check by yourself – have a try at welding, buy a unique chair or simply immerse yourself in the atmosphere of collective creativity!
A student of the fourth year of Industrial Design at the School of Form in Poznań. In August 2014, together with Magda Gąsiorowska, she became a finalist of Make Me! – a competition for young designers. Several months later, along with her four friends and at the invitation of Lidewij Edelkoort, a trendforecaster and observer, she went on a few days’ stay to the Trend Union’s department in Paris where she broadened her knowledge of current trends and ways to analyze them. In March 2015, together with Ewelina Rytel, Magda Gasiorowska i Aleksandra Kalinowska, she finished a trendbook with design inspirations for 2016. The work on the book was supervised by Zuzanna Skalska.
As a designer I feel a constant need to observe events connected with the sphere of design. Thanks to it, I have a better understanding of people’s needs and I am able to more appropriately plan final versions of my projects. The knowledge of our everyday reality enables us to discover the so far unknown situations requiring innovative solutions, especially important in the world of business. Besides, information about trends may be of valuable significance for those who want to be more conscious of changes occurring all around us.