This year, the Polish Pavilion at the London Design Biennale presents an exhibition entitled The Clothed Home: Tuning In To The Seasonal Imagination. Rooted in bygone Polish textile traditions and domestic rituals, the exhibition seeks to re-establish and cultivate a more attentive relationship with the natural world and its continuous changes. In the pre-electric era, before the accessibility of central heating and air-conditioning made residents immune to outdoor conditions, the furnishing of the home was part and parcel of the cyclical rhythm of the year.
In manor houses, aristocratic mansions, and peasant cottages of pre-modern Poland, textiles were widely used as seasonal clothing for architecture. They helped adapt domestic spaces to the changing Central European climate. The recurring appearance of textiles in domestic interiors allowed the residents to consciously participate in the cycles of nature – celebrating the passage of time, with an enhanced sense of immersion in the circadian rhythm, and the sequence of light and darkness.
With this notion in mind, artist Alicja Bielawska, architects Małgorzata Kuciewicz and Simone De Lacobis of CENTRALA, and curator Aleksandra Kędziorek created an installation evoking a ‘clothed home’. While it is not an illustration of a time-specific space, it offers visitors of Somerset House a multi-sensory experience.
Once inside the exhibit, visitors are guided through the rooms by different weaves of textile e.g. hand-woven rugs, wall coverings, and kilims manufactured by local artisans using traditional weaving techniques and natural yarns. The color palette is inspired by the year-round observation of the Polish landscape. Orange and red textiles which are thick and woolly evoke the cold seasons, whilst lightweight fluttering blue, and green textiles that yield to and encourage the movement of air suggest the warm seasons. A film explores how we interact with fabrics – how they react to being touched, whether they’re stiff, or soft and easy to bend. The exhibition highlights a variety of traditional techniques of weaving, showing how these historic textiles are still relevant to contemporary trends in interior design.
The Clothed Home advocates for acceptance of the discomfort of changing external conditions, arguing that staying in tune with nature may help us better understand its fading pulse. “In this day and age, when many of us are cocooned in centrally heated apartments and air-conditioned offices, we have grown inured to the nuances of nature’s changing cycles. Contemporary design can help us tune into the seasons again” – adds Kędziorek.
The Polish Pavilion is organised by: The Adam Mickiewicz Institute
Artworks: Alicja Bielawska
Curator: Aleksandra Kędziorek
Concept and Exhibition Design: Centrala (Małgorzata Kuciewicz, Simone De Iacobis)
Visual Identity: Anna Kulachek
Graphic Designs: Piotr Chuchla