Design Ecosystem in Łódź

 { 🇵🇱 } – Łódź: an industrial city turned design hub

Manufaktura building in Łódź. Photo by Grooveland Designs.

Łódź (pronounced woodge) has experienced an almost complete transformation during its history. At one point in time, this city was the main textile manufacturing hub of Europe, as well as one the major centres of Jewish life. Then this all finished, and Poland’s third-biggest city was left with a lack of purpose.

It is only recently that Łódź has managed to reinvent itself and find a new sense of purpose. For long, the city did not have the best reputation in Poland, and although it hasn’t shaken it off completely, Łódź today is a very different city.

We are going to look at how design played – and is still playing – a part in giving this city a new face and purpose.

A Newly-Found Sense of Purpose

Going from a manufacturing powerhouse to a place where people don’t recommend going was obviously not easy for Łódź and its inhabitants. The depressing and confusing 1990’s, the years when Poland – as well as other ex-Socialist states in Central and Eastern Europe – transitioned from a centralised to a market one, saw Łódź fall victim to negligence and decay, due to lack of funds resulting from the collapse of the Socialist system, as well as the loss of its manufacturing industry.

Although modern-day Łódź still presents visible signs of these days of negligence, even in the city centre (a characteristic that many think is crucial in defining Łódź’s aesthetic), currently Poland is a completely different country, and Łódź is no exception.

Fortunately, Lodzianers eventually understood the value of their industrial heritage and decided to give it once again the importance it deserves. This has included re-purposing efforts for disused old workshops and factories, which have been turned into both economical and cultural hubs.

Łódź’s Design Scene

As already mentioned, Łódź has a rich industrial history and at a time was the biggest textile manufacturing centre in Europe. Such legacy is still visible in Łódź’s exterior appearance – you don’t need to venture too far out to see abandoned and derelict buildings which once served as centres for textile manufacturing.

This made Łódź an ideal ground for the appearance of a local creative scene. What started out small – and certainly not so relevant – eventually grew larger, making Łódź one of the main cities in Poland for design together with Warsaw, Krakow and Poznań.

Quirky details in Łódź. Photo by Gianmarco Caprio.

Nowadays, the central Polish city has its very own yearly event dedicated to the various niches within the broader design industry, the aptly-named Lodz Design Festival. This is currently the biggest event of its kind in Central Europe, and this year it was scheduled to take place from May 19th until the 27th, but unfortunately due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has been cancelled. Many other small-scale initiatives have also sprung up after the city of Łódź cemented itself as a regional design hotspot.

Design Education in Lodz

There are several options available to those pursuing an education in design in this city which, as already stated earlier, has recently established itself as a centre of regional significance for Central European design. One such option is the Higher School of Art and Design (Polish: Wyższa Szkoła Sztuki i Projektowania), a private institution established in 1998 providing university-level education in various design fields. The school offers bachelor degree courses in graphic, interior, web and book design as well as illustration and advertising. This institution is focused on preparing students with the needs of the different industries in mind.

For those seeking a higher focus on the creative and artistic side, the Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts (Polish: Akademia Sztuk Pięknych im. Władysława Strzemińskiego) is probably a better option. This is a public institution with a long history and six different faculties to choose from.

Where to Work From

Although Łódź doesn’t yet offer a multitude of places for independent or remote workers, the places that do exist more than make up for the lack of variety. If co-working spaces are is what you’re after, then HELLO ŁÓDŹ is probably the best fit for you. They offer different monthly packages for freelancers, remote employees as well as agencies, which makes it easy to find a solution that’ll fit the needs of everybody. However, if you’re a bit of a flâneur (and, let’s be honest: who isn’t one?), like craft coffee or simply just prefers cafes, then in Łódź you won’t have to struggle much to find what you need, cause most nice cafes are all conveniently located in OFF Piotrkowska, a mixed-use re-purposed building complex where the Ramisch family once had his cotton production facilities.

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Gianmarco Caprio / Content & Community Manager @ Phase

Content creator, editor and community manager at Phase.