Malwina Konopacka

Established illustrator switches from paper to ceramics

Originally Published in May 2017

Malwina Konopacka is a designer, illustrator and graphic artist based in Warsaw, but her art is not merely displayed in galleries and published in magazines. Her limited-edition vase collections are three-dimensional works intended to serve a purpose in addition to being eloquent decorative pieces.

With an art historian for a father, Konopacka was always surrounded by art, and she found it fascinating from an early age. After studying design and art history in Warsaw, Konopacka ventured across the border to Berlin where she studied illustration. Inspired by the simplicity and freedom of expression found in German designs, Konopacka began creating illustrations based on her own artistic decisions. She realized that artists have a huge amount of freedom to create, as long as they do so with conviction. To develop her own style, she combined the art of simple design that she learned in Warsaw with her own interpretations, embellishments and illustrations.

After college, Konopacka returned to Warsaw and worked as an illustrator. Her work has been featured in magazines such as Elle, Machina, Podróże, Gaga, Architektura, and Przekrój. She regularly contributes to publications including Dwutygodnik, Kikimora, and Zwykłe Życie. She has also worked with publishing houses Lampa and Iskra Boża. Her work has been displayed at exhibitions in Poland, Milan, London, New York and Tokyo.

Konopacka put aside creating illustrations for publications to focus on her other projects, one of which is an annual calendar, as well as a book she plans to illustrate next year. However, for the past two years, she has been designing decorative vases.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Konopacka’s collections are the depressions in the vases’ surface.

She made a simple vase in a college pottery class, but a few years later she came up with the idea of painting a colorful design on it. Since then, she has developed a line of unique and modern hand-painted ceramic vases. Her two collections, “Cobalt” and “Jungle,” are part of the OKO, or “Eye” series.

The creation of one vase is a multistep process that requires time and precision. Following traditional methods, plaster is poured into a mold and left to harden for two days. The formed mass is then smoothed, cleaned and placed in a kiln. Once the paint and designs are applied to the vase, it is glazed and fired in the kiln again. Although the process is time-consuming and laborious, Konopacka said she likes it, because nothing can be sped up or bypassed. For hundreds of years, the process has looked the same.   

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Konopacka’s collections are the depressions in the vases’ surface. First seen in the OKO collection, in which eyes are painted in the recesses, the curved indents create an unpredictable, unique design element. Distortions in the vases are either painted or left blank depending on the design.

Konopacka aims to continue to design new, thought-provoking collections for the OKO series and plans to participate in collaborations, exhibitions and publications all over the world.