Published: 11 August 2023

Jewelry for the home

Author: Rafał Sławski

Jewelry for the home

Three unique approaches to design. One common goal – to bridge the gap between modernity and tradition.

Metal Ritual Bowl with a candle inside.
Project: Ritual Bowl, Designers: Gulce Yergal, Taleb Bonilla | fot. Rafał Kłos

About the project

Students from SWPS University's School of Form, jewelry designer Anna Orska and master glassmakers from Julia Glassworks joined forces to share their knowledge, skills and best practices in the Jewelry for the home project. Together they created home decor objects that showcased new applications for cut glass and the effects of combining modern technology with traditional craftsmanship.

Reviving crystal glassware from forgotten cabinets

Crystal glass is considered a relic of the past. During the communist era in Poland, glasses, vases and dishes were displayed behind glass cabinet doors in every apartment. Now they lie unused, dusty and forgotten.

The Julia Glassworks in Piechowice has revived cut glass and given it a new sense of purpose. Using centuries-old artisan techniques, the glassworks' masters seamlessly blend tradition with functionality, inviting us to rediscover the elegance of crystal on our tables.

Visit Julia Glassworks
The process of melting and polishing metal
fot. Rafał Kłos

Modernity should meet craftsmanship, which is not an outdated museum, but a source of inspiration for contemporary designers. The project, with Anna Orska and students from the School of Form is a step into the future that uses modern technologies without losing our heritage and craft tradition. On the contrary, it cultivates and develops it for the next generations, creating a new image of craftsmanship.

Agnieszka Browarny
CEO of Julia Glassworks in Piechowice

Crafts and handicrafts as a source of inspiration

Anna Orska, a designer of artistic jewelry, has been traveling the world for years, discovering places known for unique handicraft techniques. One of her destinations was Piechowice, where she listened to unusual stories and explored the workshop of glassmakers and designers in the last crystal glassworks in Poland. She invited students from the School of Form at SWPS University to participate in this unique adventure.

Our design students were given an interesting task: to create jewelry for the home using crystal glass elements made at the glassworks. Under the guidance of Anna Orska, masters from the Julia Glassworks, and lecturers from the School of Form, the students took on the challenge of working with new materials and techniques. The outcome was unique objects that showcase new uses for crystal glass and also tell unique stories about the value of the objects with which we surround ourselves.

Artistic jewelry by Anna Orska
Anna Orska discussing projects with students
fot. Rafał Kłos

I believe that modern technology can support hundred-years old craft technologies. Technology does not have to be a threat, it could be an opportunity. Together with students of School of Form we wanted to show that combining many years of experience with new capabilities, seemingly from a different world, may open doors that no one has yet dreamed about opening.

Anna Orska, Ph.D./Associate Professor at Koszalin University of Technology jewelry designer, owner of the ORSKA jewelry brand

Technology at the service of tradition – Jewelry for the home

The main character of the designed objects was crystal glass. Students had to reveal its unique features – facets that reflect light. During a visit to the glassworks, the students learned about the entire process of glass production – from the design of the cut, through melting, to the manual processing of the cut. In their conceptual work, they challenged themselves to combine traditional craftsmanship with technology.

Each design team created its own grind, which was used to create components that were then combined with metal fixtures. A KUKA robot – the highlight of the School of Form's robotics studio – was used to process them. The students worked on the project under the supervision of lecturer Sara Bos.

Photo collage: From left: Student designing her project on a laptop, right: Anna Orska discusses project with student
fot. Rafał Kłos

We worked with technologies we had already developed. The biggest challenge was to combine so many elements in a coherent way: the crystal and the metal components produced by the robot. The experience of working with such passionate technologists from Julia Glassworks and Anna Orska was a source of inspiration for all of us. Above all, it was a lesson of modern design with regard to craftsmanship and tradition.

Sara Boś

Sara Boś

Workshop skills combined with an understanding of human nature - the subject itself is not enough

The study program at the School of Form focuses on the search for new design solutions in relation to individuals, society and the environment. In the course of their studies, students acquire not only the ability to work with various techniques and tools, but also the knowledge of the humanistic or social context of the issue to be addressed. This was also the case with the Business Project, which was realized by Anna Orska and Julia Glassworks.

- We wanted the students, while designing jewelry for the home, to delve into the cultural context of everyday objects to which we ascribe special, often "magical" meanings. We also drew on sociological research showing that it is not only the object itself that is important, but also the story around it. The right story completes the buyer's experience and increases the subjective value of the object – says Prof. Joanna Jeśman, cultural studies scholar and lecturer at the School of Form.

Each of the home decor jewelry pieces has its own unique story. By purchasing the product, we can learn the story behind the designed object.

How can modern design save handicrafts from oblivion?

The joint educational project of the School of Form, Anna Orska and Julia Glassworks is an attempt to unite two seemingly distant worlds. Modern technology-based design and traditional craftsmanship, in which the human being is an irreplaceable part of the process. It is also a desire to inspire young designers in their creative research to draw on the experience and craftsmanship of masters who have been creating unique, exceptional objects for many generations.

An important goal of the project was to emphasize that it is our duty and responsibility to ensure that the art of craftsmanship, especially the local craftsmanship that is so characteristic of our country, will not be forgotten.

Anna Orska surrounded by students, holding Ritual Bowl
fot. Rafał Kłos

“Crafts of the world according to Orska: crystal glass”

"Crafts of the World According to Orska" is a documentary series in which Anna Orska explores artisan workshops in various, often distant locations. She visits family-run studios where unique skills are handed down through generations, listening to the inspiring stories of individuals whose passion and talent can truly captivate.

On March 17, 2023, Zoom TV aired the premiere episode, inviting viewers to the Julia Glassworks in Piechowice, the last crystal glassworks in Poland with an almost 200-year tradition. The documentary showcases the intricate process of creating delicate objects and introduces the people crucial to the facility's existence. The enchanting atmosphere of this place served as inspiration for ORSKA's new jewelry collection. The footage will also feature segments filmed at the School of Form at SWPS University, providing insights into the ongoing educational project "Jewelry for the Home."

Photo of Anna Orska among blurry, glittering lights displayed on laptop screen