Zakopane Style

The Jaszczórówka wooden church constructed by Stanisław Witkiewicz in Zakopane

The Tratra mountains in Poland aren’t just beautiful nature, but as well an important epicenter of Polish culture. The origins of the Zakopane Style go back to the late 19th century, when the Arts and Crafts Movement was in full bloom. It was created by Stanisław Witkiewicz, who settled in Zakopane in 1890. The Zakopane Style was the first Polish national style that went beyond the framework of theoretical postulates and could be carried out in practice, not only in Zakopane, but also in many other places in Poland, particularly in the Austrian and Russian partition zones. Stanisław Witkiewicz came across this idea in 1898. The inspiration for the Zakopane Style was therefore more the Ruthenian Style, which the artist could have encountered in 1868–1872 during his studies in St. Petersburg. In 1886, after his first trip to Giewont, he wrote: “…the highlander hut is a higher sort of construction in which the practical features are decorated in an expression of certain aesthetic needs. This is less raw material than a fairly developed style from which one might evolve a new and independent type of building.”

The first home in the Zakopane Style was Zygmunt Gnatowski’s Koliba Villa, which Witkiewicz built in 1892–1894. Witkiewicz considered the highlander carpenters and woodcarvers to be co-creators of the architecture he designed. The Koliba Villa was meant to settle all doubts as to the possibility of reconciling folk architecture with the requirements of the more complex and refined demands of comfort and beauty. According to Stanisław Witkiewicz’s precepts, the Podhale hut was to be the model for the Zakopane Style villa, which the Polish artist sought to make the Polish national style. Furnishing the hut with stylish furniture and other everyday items of his own design was his point of departure. His main task was to use the characteristic attributes of folk furnishings, “artistically employing” the constructions themselves. Ornament was shifted to background, though in many cases it was an important element. Podhale folk ornament, much like that of other regions, was mainly limited to geometrical and plant motifs. In the Zakopane Style this repertoire was expanded with motifs of the flora of the Tatra Mountains.

Willa Koliba

Willa Koliba

Willa Koliba & Willa Oksza

The first attempts to use Podhale ornament in artistic crafts involved carving ornament on wooden furniture – chairs, beds, and a screen. Based on designs by Magdalena Butowt-Andrzejkowiczówna and adapted by Franciszek Neužil, this furniture was produced by the Professional School for the Wood Industry in Zakopane for Countess Róża Krasińska in the 1885/1886 academic year. Beginning in 1887, this decorative movement was promoted by the school and was called the Zakopane Style. Stanisław Witkiewicz was critical of this furniture, mainly for its construction “without regard for the shapes of the original highlander pieces.” The failed attempts of the Wood Carving School inclined him to adopt the “highland style” himself. In the course of five years the first villa furnishings in the Zakopane Style, some to his designs, emerged in the Koliba, Oksza, Zofiówka, and Pod Jedlami villas. Attempts were made to harmonize the furnishings with the villa architecture, while “every detail” was to be “covered with highlander ornament or given highlander shape” to fill the interiors, while also creating designs “that had never been seen in highlander huts.”

The Zakopane style dominated architecture in the Podhale region for many years. Although the cutoff date for buildings designed in the Zakopane Style of Architecture is usually held to be 1914, many new pensions, villas and highlander homes are built according to the architectural model devised by Witkiewicz to the present day. The museum of the Zakopane Style of Architecture located in the Villa Koliba provides visitors with information on the Zakopane style.

Willa Oksza

Willa Oksza

Willa Oksza (Witkacy’s paintings), store with local craftsmanship & Bachleda Resort Hotel.

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Tatry Detox

Going to the brisk, breezy mountains in the middle of summer is exactly what I needed. Tatra, the highest mountain range in Poland, is a dream. The whole area covers around 800 km² and its protected by two national parks (Polish Tatrzański Park Narodowy and Slovakian Tatranský národný park) – full of untouched wildlife. Tatra mountains are exceptional for many reasons. They have an exciting exploration history and growing popularity both among tourists and explorers. Here, you can practice hiking, climbing, skiing as well as mountain biking. Our goal this time was Morskie Oko – the largest and most beautiful lake in Tatra – which needs a rather intense walk through the humid forests and gorgeous cliffs. Thanks to the cultural sheep pasturage program, tourists can taste original oscypkis and drink zéntyca (sheep milk whey). They can also hear genuine podhale highlander dialect – and eventually see them in their regional outfits. Tatra area is also important because of its historical perspective. These mountains inspired numerous artists and poets, like Stanisław Witkiewicz and Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, whose body of work contributed to the so-called Zakopane style – which I will post about very soon!

Here are some of my favourite Tatry moments…

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Hear Out Polish Women!

Standing side by side with Polish women!

Last Thursday, Poland’s (UN)Constitutional Tribunal (an equivalent to the Supreme Court in USA) ruled to outlaw abortions due to fetal defects, making the country’s ban on abortion almost total. As of now, Poland will only allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the pregnant person’s life (note: even these cases are being hindered, and the ruling party aims to outlaw all kinds of abortions!), making the country one of the most hostile places in Europe for reproductive rights. The topic of abortion has been attacked by the ruling party for years, but now they are taking advantage of the pandemic, doing whatever they want. This is an attack on human rights. An attack on women. Disappointing, devastating and frustrating. Read more about the spectacular protests happening across the country here. Follow @strajk_kobiet and @stonewall_poland for more up-to-date information!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki featuring Saint Laurent AW20 collection.

Poland in 2020.

On Thursday, Poland’s (UN)Constitutional Tribunal (an equivalent to the Supreme Court in USA) ruled to outlaw abortions due to fetal defects, making the country’s ban on abortion almost total. As of now, Poland will only allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the pregnant person’s life (note: even these cases are being hindered, and the ruling party aims to outlaw all kinds of abortions!), making the country one of the most hostile places in Europe for reproductive rights. The topic of abortion has been attacked by the ruling party for years, but now they are taking advantage of the pandemic, doing whatever they want. This is an attack on human rights. An attack on women. Disappointing, devastating and frustrating. I can’t believe where this country is heading to. Read more about the protests happening across the country here.

Artwork by Barbara Kruger – the poster was meant for the Pro-Choice march that occurred on April 9th, 1989 in Washington D.C. Utterly relevant in 2020 Poland.

Delightful. Magda Butrym AW20

Whether it’s one of her statement cocktail mini-dresses or a pair of zebra-print boots, Magda Butrym’s pieces carry an undeniably cool attitude that is a mixture of the 80s and 90s chic. What makes me even more excited about her pieces is that they’re beautifully crafted in Poland, embracing the nearly forgotten, local craft experience. With every season, Magda’s work becomes more and more signature and distinct to her style. And she also expands her line-ups. For autumn-winter 2020, the Polish designer offers the complete wardrobe, from boxy overcoats to tiny corset tops trimmed in crystals. The black, leather coat with shearling collar is a dream, just like the floral dresses made from glorious, meaty velvet or the incredible sequinned garments (those are just some of the details I had a chance to experience at her showroom in Paris). Butrym’s clients – and that fan-base steadily grows – will be pleased to see that the label introduces sunglasses this season, made in collaboration with Linda Farrow. Delightful.
Collages and showroom photos by Edward Kanarecki, look-book photos by Sonia Szóstak.