There are trends that burst into life with an unmissable fanfare, and others that steal up. The resurgence of interest in design from central and eastern Europe belongs to the latter group, and one champion is London-based design enthusiast Dorota Szelagowska. As she is Polish by birth and has a background in design retail (she used to work at the contemporarydesign shop/gallery Aram), it’s hardly surprising that she decided to launch an e-store specialising in interior objects from the former Soviet bloc.
“For the greater part of the 20th century, the countries of eastern Europe were pre-eminent in the field of design,” Szelagowska says, “and a new generation of artisans, unencumbered by the memories and boundaries of communism, has been emerging for some time. Manufactured Culture was founded with a mission to bring their work to a wider audience.”
Two of the most interesting of these artisans are Polish glass designer Agnieszka Bar, who has created a pair of delicately folded, limited-edition crystal vases (Amber Crystal Pleated vase and Clear Crystal vase, £115 each, second picture) and Magda Jurek of Pani Jurek, who makes products that can be altered by the buyer. Her Maria SC chandelier (£149, first picture), for example, is formed of laboratory test tubes, which can be detached from their plywood band and filled with anything from coloured dyes to flowers.
There are also products by established brands, such as ceramic studio Modus Design (Cubus Set on Tray, £120, third picture) and VZOR, manufacturers of the late Lithuanian-born, Poland-based designer Roman Modzelewski’s classic RM58 chair. Designed in 1958, and brought back into production in 2012, RM58 was one of the earliest Polish designs to be made in polyester-glass laminate (an example can be found in the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum). There are two versions available through the site – the Classic (£630) and the Limited Edition Classic (from £760, fourth picture), which looks the same, but has been custom-made using modern technologies more commonly employed in the construction of yachts and boats, just as Modzelewksi envisaged.