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Eryka & Jan Drost

4.07.2021–9.01.2022

The protagonists of the eighth edition of the Polish Designs Polish Designers series are, for the first time, a duo—a married couple who are both designers. Eryka and Jan Drost are a remarkable pair. Their innovation, creativity and extraordinary sense of the technological opportunities afforded by pressed glass have given rise to designs that have gone down for good in the history of design, both in Poland and beyond.

This couple studied at the State School of Fine Arts in Wrocław (presently: the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław), in the Faculty of Glass run by Professor Stanisław Dawski. Eryka Trzewik-Drost made her professional debut right after her studies at the Bogucice Porcelain Factory. She was tied to the factory for several years. It was there that her highly distinctive First Ball figurine was produced. Almost directly after finishing his studies, Jan Drost began working for the Ząbkowice Household Glass Works in Dąbrowa Górnicza as head of the design centre. In 1965, he was joined by Eryka. For almost forty years they created designs that adorned many Polish tables, and presently are the prized possessions of many a collector.

One of the Drosts’ indubitable contributions was to make modern designs out of a type of glass that was deemed inferior and unworthy of attention. These masters of Polish pressed glass design made brilliant use of the perceived limitations and weaknesses of this technology. They stressed the softness of the material and experimented with colour. They created not only a whole new catalogue of glass products for the Ząbkowice Household Glass Works, but also decorations that met the needs of the consumers of the day. The fascination for outer space generated by the first man on the moon is visible, for instance, in the Luna, Crater and Radiant models. The square and rectangular dishes of the Conti set impress with their functional simplicity. The use of ‘open forms’ (made without the use of binding clamps) facilitated the production of dishes with fluid, organic lines.

This latest exhibition in the Polish Designs Polish Designers series is more than a presentation of two designers and their remarkable accomplishments; it is also an attempt to call attention to some special aspects of design itself. For this eighth edition we will be intrigued by the moment wherein the household object’s basic function changes and it becomes part of a museum or private collection. The Ząbkowice Household Glass Works no longer exists, unfortunately, but the glass designed by Eryka and Jan Drost continues to exert a fascination with its modern form. We speak of this phenomenon at the exhibition, presenting selected objects from the National Museum in Wrocław and private collections.

Anna Śliwa