The year 1913 signalled the transition from theory to practice in Polish pattern-design, the origins of which date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Kraków, a group of artists, craftsmen and architects joined forces with the Society of Polish Applied Arts to create the Kraków Workshops Association. They wanted to translate creative ideas into something concrete, and were assisted in this goal by weaving and dyeing workshops, as well as those that manufactured toys, furniture, and metalware, leather, and batik.
According to the idea, during their cooperation with craftsmen, artists learnt from them how to use traditional techniques. The designs and objects they created were inspired by folk art which, thanks to Witkiewicz and the Zakopane style, earned the status of national art. The activity of the workshops and the involvement of the artists led to the creation of a new quality of decorative art.
Zofia Stryjeńska, Kazimierz Młodzianowski, Wojciech Jastrzębowski, Karol Homolacs, Antoni Buszek, Karol Stryjeński, and Józef Czajkowski were among those who belonged to the group. Their work was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I.
Soon after the association was dissolved in 1926, its activity resumed in Warsaw (some of the artists associated with the Workshops moved to the capital after the war), and the Ład Cooperative was established in the same year.
One of the achievements of the Kraków Workshops was the organisation of a pavilion at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industry in Paris in 1925. Polish designs received great recognition from the critics and the audience.
In the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków there is a unique collection of toys made in the Kraków Workshops; what is interesting, the toys were often painted and decorated by children.
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