With an approach to design that combines intellectual rigor with a strong sense of play, Pani Jurek illuminates spaces with unexpected, interactive forms.
Pani Jurek is the pseudonym of artist and designer Magda Jurek. Jurek graduated in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in her native Warsaw in 2007, and began to develop her design work in 2010. She credits her design approach to her upbringing in prefabricated Polish apartment blocks in the 1980s, where, within limited spaces, objects needed to be both compact and multifunctional: ‘We had to condense everything and that’s probably the origin of my love for clever solutions, but also for the absurd… the solutions inspired by necessity can be quite bizarre.’ This deeply ingrained approach to use-function supplements her firm environmentalist outlook; if individual items can successfully fulfill multiple needs, purchasing levels can be limited.
Throughout Jurek’s varied practice, which includes lighting fixtures and educational children’s toys, there is a keen enthusiasm for simple geometric forms. This allows her to elegantly fuse the intellectual rigor of her ideas with a strong sense of play. The Kolo Magnet lamp (2018), produced in collaboration with architect Piotr Musialowski, offers a mounted circular light feature, framed by plywood, which hosts a smaller magnetic disc. By lightly sliding this disc across the surface of the fixture, the user effects a gradual adjustment of lighting conditions, which resemble those observed in astronomical phenomena. User interaction is similarly encouraged in Jurek’s Maria S.C. series of chandeliers (2011). Made from laboratory test tubes, set into plywood bands, they offer a surprising use of materials in ways that make these fixtures both classical and innovative. The even distribution of glass cylinders recalls traditional art deco forms, and its name refers to pioneering Polish scientist Marie Curie (Maria Curie Skłodowska), winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1903) and for Chemistry (1911). Appropriately, this series offers many possibilities for visual experimentation; the test tubes may be left empty, filled with brightly-colored fluids, or the flourishing forms of plant life. This allows these pieces to be platforms for the artistic expression of each individual user, lending additional and personal aesthetic value to the ornamental light source.
The work of Pani Jurek has been exhibited widely, displayed as part of Meadow and Forest at Design Galeriet, Stockholm, Spirit of Poland at Centro Carioca de Design, Rio de Janeiro, and as part of Polish Design Stories at Vienna Design Week in 2015. Jurek was awarded the Must Have prize by the Łódź Design Festival for her Designer Mama tablecloth in 2012, for her Kolo series of lighting objects in 2014, and again for her Psikusy range of children’s books and blocks in 2018. She is also the co-founder of Association “Based in Warsaw”, devised to achieve design outcomes that meet social and cultural needs, as well as design interventions for public spaces.