A place where design in its broadest sense meets science, new technologies and activism has just been created in Kraków. Apteka Designu (ang. The Design Pharmacy) is part of the revitalisation strategy for the Wesoła district. The grand opening of the building, including the reading room, took place on September 26, and from October onwards, the designers move into the studio!
“In 2019, Krakow bought a plot of land of more than nine hectares from the University Hospital along with real estate: former clinics and post-hospital buildings. Our main idea was to create a multifunctional space for the residents of Kraków, who from the very beginning have co-determined what the district will look like,” says Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Kraków. “Our common goal was to create a truly creative space, filled with public functions, green and integrated into the historic part of the city. Places like Wesoła are already a reality in many metropolitan areas, such as Barcelona, Berlin or Vienna. I believe that Wesoła will become a show-piece of Kraków, just like the Main Market Square or the Kazimierz district,” stresses Majchrowski.
One of the first stages of the district’s revitalisation is to give a new function to the former pharmacy building at the Kopernika Street. “The Design Pharmacy in Wesoła will become a place for the design community to meet and collaborate, but the effects of the activities will be fruitful for both the district and the residents,” argues Carolina Pietyra – director of KBF. “I am very pleased that we can already invite you to this special place,” she adds.
The post-modern body of the Design Pharmacy stands out against the 19th-century architecture prevalent in Wesoła. The interior of the building is divided into several levels. The high ground floor will house the designers’ studios and co-working space, as well as a reading room. The low ground floor will become a workshop space and a place for experimentation and prototyping, serving the research circles of the Academy of Fine Arts, the designers working on the floor above and anyone with a need to work in the workshop.
The type of design for which the Pharmacy space opens up is distinct from art or craft, taking us on a journey into a potential future and helping to build new narratives. We will find out what design can do for the local community through a programme of participatory and educational activities for district residents and neighbourhood initiatives in the Wesoła district, as well as during the open days and workshops organised at the venue on a regular basis.
The Design Pharmacy is also a place around which the broader design community of Kraków will integrate. The realisation of this objective will be ensured by planned meetings for the sector and collaborative design processes supported by a lively space adapted to the needs of designers representing different disciplines and different backgrounds: universities, collectives, NGOs, well-established designers and beginners, start-ups and enterprises. In November, the venue will host first edition of an event called Design in Kraków, which is part of The Art of Things, i.e. the month of urban activities. The venue will have a predominantly professional focus, but its profile also includes an offer for the local community, people interested in design, both youth and adults. The Design Pharmacy will be open for regular open days and will be managed by KBF.
“Since the Krakow City Development Agency took on the challenge of revitalising Wesoła, one of the main tasks has been to develop new uses for the site’s historic buildings and inspire new life into them. We are very pleased that this goal is being realised,” explains Jan Pamula, President of the Krakow City Development Agency, which acts as partner in the project. “The launch of the Design Pharmacy is a symbolic start and gives momentum to the whole revitalisation process,” he adds.
A call to participate in the Design Pharmacy’s Studio and Co-working Programme was launched in August. Selected applications included designers working at the intersection of activism and design, as well as product and service designers. In return for the opportunity to work in the Pharmacy’s spaces, the new tenants will also share the results of their work with the district. A school of culture and workshops for young people and adults are just some of the events planned at the Design Pharmacy later this year.
Opening of the exhibition of ceramics from the Department of Industrial Forms of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków
Curators: Anna Szwaja, Ewa Protasiewicz
Climate change, air pollution, river pollution, extinction of species: the unwanted phenomena and processes are happening before our eyes. These and many other problems are the consequence of mindless human activity, taking full advantage of natural resources. The over-consumption and production of material goods is a serious threat. That is why in the student works shown in the exhibition, the physical product does not play a primary role. When proposing solutions to the problems raised, the authors first think of the impact on the environment, culture or the attitude and condition of present and future generations. This results in projects that influence the formation of sustainable relationships with the environment. Material objects, on the one hand, encourage independent action – by reinforcing a sense of agency, they help to achieve inner balance; on the other, by inducing reflection, they lead to a redesign of habits into ones that serve to improve the quality of life – not only now, but also in the future.
The projects presented at the exhibition were created at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, at the Faculty of Industrial Forms, in the Alternative Design Studio, under the direction of mgr Ewa Protasiewicz and dr hab. Anna Szwaja.
Authors of the work:
A guided tour of the exhibition will take place in October.
Launch of office and co-working programme for designers
Between October 2023 and June 2024, designers will have at their disposal the space of the Design Pharmacy located in the revitalised district of Wesoła and representing a total area of more than 200 m2. The building will house four studios, which can accommodate more than twenty people in total, as well as a co-working space for four designers.
For the coming season, the Design Pharmacy will host designers from a variety of backgrounds, representing many different areas of interest and activity. The list of residents include:
Malwina Antoniszczak – her areas of expertise are accessibility, inclusive design and universal design, the development of which involves extensive collaboration with target users from different social groups.
Photon Foundation – is a representative of the area of innovation and new technologies, combining cultural activities with new technologies and digital media. Since its foundation, it has been working in Kraków to develop the creative sector, contemporary culture and digital art.
Working Group – carries out projects in various fields of broad design: from social design, digital product design, UX design, service design and overseeing implementation processes. Its members share their knowledge at various universities and industry events.
Dominika Jastrzębska – a graduate in architecture; during her studies, she realised the need for artistic activities that complement the urban fabric. Having undertaken work in the field of architectural detailing in its broadest sense, she has spent many years developing in the field of ceramics.
Joanna Rudzińska – a graduate in architecture from the Cracow University of Technology, she has just completed her studies in Industrial Design at the Eindhoven University of Technology. For the past two years, she has lived in the Netherlands, where she has observed first-hand the grassroots social initiatives that are turning part of the city into the so-called “creative-hub”. She is very inspired by the philosophy of incorporating the voice of the community and the actual needs of users into the design process.
Joanna Krokosz – in both her project and teaching activities, she is involved in social and accessibility projects. She has been a volunteer at, among other places, the Ludwik and Anna Helcel Care Centre in Kraków, she has also been involved in activities for institutions and local communities.
Małgorzata Bajka – artist, graphic designer and street artist. She is the author of, among other things, a series of mural paintings related to music and folk culture, the design of a new visual identity for the Museum of Ancient Mazovian Metallurgy in Pruszków, and visual identification/graphic design for the International Storytelling Festival (editions: 2018, 2019, 2020) and numerous music album covers.
Katarzyna Sosenko – art historian, antiquarian, president of the Sosenko Family Collections Foundation, which runs the Museum of Toys in Kraków, which has one of the largest collections of historical toys in the world. The Toy Museum has been created from the very beginning as a place for establishing relationships, discussion, creative work, discovering meaning and constructing meaning: a zone for strengthening social skills.
Studio Widok – a graphic design studio bringing together designers with experience in projects for the gastronomy, cosmetics industry and cultural spaces, among others. Their work is geared towards local cooperation. They are convinced that the key to good identification lies in real encounters between people. They believe that visual identity can improve the quality of life.
The main objectives of the programme are to strengthen the position of the design community in Kraków, to promote and develop the Wesoła district, to support debutant and experienced designers as well as to establish local, national and international connections between creative districts.
School of Culture
The School of Culture is a series of workshops where KBF staff will share concrete knowledge on how to organise a cultural event. The meetings will present the next steps in the preparation and implementation of the event. The individual activities will have a varied format: expert meetings, creative workshops, discussions, practical activities. A site visit and an opportunity to see first-hand the realisation of a selected festival event prepared by KBF within its brands is also planned.
Divided into smaller groups, workshop participants will be tasked with creating a project for a cultural event for their peers, which they would like to realise in the Wesoła district.
Topics covered throughout the series will include event production, event communication and promotion, corporate identity and branding, audience experience, project management and working in a project team.
Why is it worth it?
In addition to practical knowledge, students will be able to develop the soft skills that are so important today: teamwork, empathy, logical thinking, a sense of responsibility for themselves, the local community and the space in which they live.
Most importantly, however, they will become partners in creating the place where they live, active participants in cultural life, co-creators of the vision of a creative district. This sense of empowerment significantly influences a young person’s self-esteem and engagement.
When and where?
The project is year-round. Classes will take place once a month between October 2023 and May 2024. In the second semester, students will present their projects to the school and students and teachers will vote for one of them. The winning idea will be realised in the Wesoła district between now and the end of 2024 with expert and technical support provided by KBF.
The dates of the individual meetings will be agreed together with the class teacher of the class taking part in the series.
The programme is designed for one class. Meetings will be held at the school and at selected KBF locations, including – the Potocki Palace and at the Kopernika Street and in the Wesoła district.
KBF × International Architecture Biennale. Changing the function of buildings – challenges and opportunities
6 October 2023, 10:00–14:00
Animators: Carolina Pietyra and Justyna Mędrala
Mentor: Marcin Włodarczyk
The aim of the workshop is to explore the topic of changing the function of buildings and to understand the challenges and opportunities involved. During the meeting, we will discuss the various aspects involved in transforming existing buildings into new, functional spaces adapted to contemporary needs. The whole exercise will be conducted on the basis of the Wesoła case study.
The workshop will provide participants with an insight into the complex aspects of transforming buildings and provide inspiration for creative approaches to space design. This will be an opportunity to exchange experiences between the institution (client) and the architect and to discuss possible innovative solutions.
Entrance tickets will be available to download electronically on the KBF website: TICKETS.
Opening of the exhibition of the students of the Department of Industrial Forms of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków
Curator: Marek Liskiewicz
Design in Kraków
November will see the first edition of an event called Design in Kraków, which is part of The Art of Things, i.e. the month of urban activities. The few weekends we will spend with design enthusiasts, theoreticians and practitioners will be a great opportunity to explore the identity of the Design Pharmacy venue. The #onsite formula will include practical workshops, a fair of independent publications and prints, lectures by design theoreticians and practitioners from Germany, Ukraine and Poland, networking meetings, visual events outside the Design Pharmacy, as well as a social exchange of design books or food sharing. All events will be streamed #online, reinforcing accessibility to the event.
A detailed programme will follow shortly.
Opening hours of the Design Pharmacy reading room:
Mondays and Wednesdays: 12:00–16:00
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9:00–13:00
Design Pharmacy is partnered by: Kraków City Development Agency, Nowy Styl, Homla and Dobra Palarnia Kawy.