They say that behind every successful man stands a strong woman. When it comes to good design, behind its success stands usually more than one person or one situation. In “D-File” series of mini-essays, Ania Diduch – art and design critic tells the stories behind Polish designs and designers, both iconic and forgotten. Just like in police files, she collects the evidence, talks with the witnesses, examines the photos and finally writes the report. This week she examines “Recto-Verso” glass objects by Paweł Grobelny.


pawel grobelny


Grobelny became known to a wider public in mid-2016, when he won a competition for the design of city furniture in the La Defence district – a business hub in Paris. He earned his success gradually over the years by building his position as a versatile designer, working in public and private spheres.

A common feature of all his designs is the combination of functionality and aesthetics. An excellent example of this thesis is a series of the “Recto-Verso” glass objects created in 2014 and 2015 within the international programme entitled Glass is tomorrow. “In 2014, five designers from France, Belgium Switzerland Germany and Poland were invited to glassworks in the French town of Meisenthal,” recalls the designer, “we worked for over a week with all the glassworks’ employees, sketching, preparing prototypes and ready-made models. As you turn the first vase, it changes its function into a bowl, and the other one changes into a candlestick. Both vases were created in a wide range of colours used in the glassworks. If they had been created in some other place, the would have had other range of colours.”


“They say that behind every successful man stands a strong woman.

When it comes to good design, behind its success

stands usually more than one person or one situation.”


It is the colours that add the finishing touch to the design. Subdued shades of blue and deep honey make us think of glass dishes created by Eryka and Jan Drost in the 1960s and 70s, manufactured in the “Ząbkowice” Glassworks in Silesia. Although forgotten for a long time, they have been growing in popularity among the fans of retro style and Polish collectors. There are more analogies between Recto-Verso and the objects created by the Drosts. It is visible in the formal discipline and the sculpture-like approach to glass material. Jan Drost, experimenting with the moulded glass technology, attempted to give a sense of uniqueness to everyday objects, the surface of his bowls or vases is full of “designed” irregularities. The form of Grobelny’s vases is certainly ascetic, but at the same time, it is not devoid of the qualities of sculpture. In addition, “Recto-Verso”, due to its double function, is an original answer to the question of rational design, the kind which, for example, is suitable for use for in small flats.

It is said that beauty should arise of function. Grobelny’s works show that beauty should be functional, but not in a straightforward way.  It is a pity that unlike Eryka and Jan Drosts’ dishes, the “Recto-verso” objects have not been meant for mass production.


Words: Ania Diduch


Ania Diduch is an art and design critic based in Warsaw. She works as a journalist for several design and art magazines as well as daily newspapers, writing on contemporary culture. Last year she founded her own online magazine called “priv.” on design and interior design. “priv.” aims to show Polish design scene in wide context of other creative fields and trends as well as commenting on current events in Poland. The magazine balances of suggestive graphic layout and highly informative, well-written texts. es


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