Architecture

Designer of the Day: Ania Jaworska

The Chicago-based designer on architecture as research, her forthcoming series of furniture, and an installation she created for the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

The Chicago-based designer on architecture as research, her forthcoming series of furniture, and an installation she created for the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Here, we ask a designer to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.

Age: 38

Occupation: Architect and designer

Hometown: Stary Sącz, Poland; has lived in Krakow,  Detroit, and now Chicago.

Studio location: Chicago

Describe what you make: My practice focuses on exploring the connection between art and architecture. The work I produce often functions as a proposal or a study for larger works, but also stands independently as final a piece on its own. I like to think that what I produce is simultaneously simple and complex, familiar and unfamiliar, funny and serious.

The most important thing you’ve designed to date: Each project is a learning opportunity, and the most important thing at the time is its production and experience. But there are three projects I would like to highlight: a bookshop installation I designed for the Graham Foundation in Chicago (2013), a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago called BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Ania Jaworska (2015), and a show titled “SET” that was presented at Chicago’s Volume Gallery (2016). The latter featured a series of furniture with simplistic forms that were exaggerated to achieve authoritative, imposing proportions.

The problem your work solves: Through drawings, installation, sculpture, or proposals, I explore architecture and its history, form, function, and concepts. Architecture to me is a research, inquiry, and development of work.

The project you are working on now: I was selected by the Chicago Architecture Biennial’s curators to propose an entrance installation for the Randolph Street Lobby. This is the first space visitors encounter when entering the Chicago Cultural Center on the north side of the building. The installation uses iconic forms such as the arch and the column to call on architectural history and establish meaning—while simultaneously undermining it. The carefully placed arch within the installation both highlights and contradicts the entrance. It simultaneously signifies an entry point and creates a physical boundary.

A new or forthcoming project we should know about: I am currently working on a series of furniture that will be presented in New York and Miami this winter.

What you absolutely have to have in your studio: Coffee in the morning, and beer in the evening.

What you do when you’re not working: Over the summer I frequently visited the Chicago Zoo, the Indiana Sand Dunes National Lakeshore, Montrose Beach, and Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old son, named Zenon. Along with my husband, we maxed out on family weekend activities in and around Chicago.

Sources of creative envy: I have been constantly returning to work of contemporary artists like Olaf Breuning and Beverly Fre$h, who explore cultural landscapes, humor, and commentary, and in turn produce their own cultural entities. On the other hand, I have been investigating the work of designer Jonathan Muecke, whose seemingly simple objects have complex theoretical backgrounds and maximum spatial impact. I’ve long been a fan of Ettore Sottsass, whose work spans scales and materials and uses cultural references in order to communicate with the viewer. I am also lucky to work with my colleagues here in Chicago, whose work challenges and expands the understanding of architectural form and practice. These individuals and firms include Cames/Gibson, Design With Company, Norman Kelley, and Paul Preissner, among others.

The distraction you want to eliminate: The constant need to organize.

Concrete or marble? Concrete.

High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse.

Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts.

Remember or forget? Remember.

Dark or light? Light.

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