You might remember a few weeks ago we shared our experience of visiting the exhibition of works by Karol Śliwka, a brilliant Polish modernist designer. Now, we’re not usually people who buy a lot of merchandise on such occasions (catalogs, sure) but this time one of the gadgets was a T-shirt with purple logos by Śliwka and we couldn’t resist.
The T-shirt is sold by Pan tu nie stał, a Polish clothing company whose products reference the time of the People’s Republic of Poland (not a great time in Polish history, strictly speaking, but full of things people feel nostalgic about). The company uses a lot of humor not just in their designs but also, as we discovered, in packaging and marketing materials.
Most of the jokes are fairly difficult to explain outside of Poland (all the elements of packaging reference slogans from old products, from work safety posters etc.) but you can still appreciate the design (modern) and attention paid to all the details. This is how the T-shirt is packed, into gray-paper envelope with well-designed graphic elements and old-fashioned slogans:
The back of the envelope.
And the T-shirt itself.
Last week heat waves defeated us but this week we finally managed to see the exhibition held in the Museum of Gdynia, showing the work of one of the greatest Polish designers, Karol Śliwka.
Śliwka worked for decades in the period of communist regime in Poland when the conditions for graphic design were completely different than they are now (long story). He almost single-handedly introduced logo modernism here and dominated the visual landscape. He created posters, packaging and, most of all, logos, following strict, intellectual rules according to which a mark needs to be the synthesis of ideas that represent a company or an institution in a beautifully geometricized form. What is more, unlike some other modernists’ of the period, Śliwka’s logos are rarely pure geometric experiments: they retain human heart, a sense of humor and joy, despite their minimalist form.
The exhibition shows him as a versatile designer, good with illustration, classically trained but particularly focused on his biggest love, logos (which he actually learned to design by himself, as he studied different disciplines). We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and encourage you to visit the exhibition, should you be in Gdynia soon(ish).
Below you can see the logo for Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Warszawy (The Society of Friends of Warsaw), which is probably our favorite of all Śliwka’s logos, simply because it had no right to work – and it does so well. The letters form the shape of a mermaid with a sword and a shield, the symbol of Warsaw.
A neon made from Śliwka’s signature.
On the wall you can see some of Śliwka’s posters, which he usually designed in a similar way to the logos.
Book and brochure covers.
Peace building and in the background a brilliant logo for the Institute of Mother and Child (a medical institution). It’s Lubalin-level brilliance, and we don’t say that lightly.
Packaging for sweets.
These are quite brilliant in the simple decisions made here.
A screen from a short, interesting movie about Śliwka in which, our friend Patryk Hardziej shows to him pages devoted to his work in Taschen’s Logo Modernism. Patryk is one of the creators of the exhibition and a great champion of Śliwka’s work, and he’s been working on popularizing it for a couple of years now.