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Ewa Gołębiowska: The only castle like this in Poland!

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Hello, everyone. Indeed, the Oscar ceremony is much easier, because you are expected to say, "Oh, thank you very much," then cry. And I am expected to speak for more than 15 minutes in English. (Laughter) So you see it will be a story about a woman who has her head in the clouds, but she is trying to keep her feet on the ground. It will also be a story about a town. Historical, beautiful, small, called Cieszyn. And a castle. Cieszyn was the capital of [the Duchy of Teschen] for ages. And, as often happened in history, the towns and the castles have better times, of prosperity, but also have times of poverty. This old orangery was build by Habsburgs in the 19th century, and destroyed in the '60s. The ruins of the castle, and the empty space of the orangery were a really good starting point for the idea to create a completely new castle, now one of the most innovative places in Poland. That's the castle. Oh, wait, that's the empty place. You see, it was a lovely parking place for the citizens of Cieszyn. And now, the castle. But believe me... It is not so difficult to rebuild even the castle. It's much more difficult to breathe life into the building. So let me tell the story of how it happened that in a small, provincial town -- Cieszyn has about 35 thousand people -- the first regional design center was created. And it was in fact thanks to ambitions and beliefs. It was in 1999 when 16 new provinces were created in Poland. It was exactly the second step of local government reform. And among these 16 provinces, the Silesian region was created, and belongs in fact to the biggest regions, with its population of more than 5 million people living there. The government of the new province from the very beginning has been fighting against stereotypes which show the region as the most polluted, highly industrialized, and not an attractive place. And surprisingly, they chose design as a tool for change. And believe me, it is one of the most effective tools also in regional development. Probably, when I say "design," you think and you see these fancy, luxurious, expensive, and sometimes completely useless products which are shown in lifestyle magazines. It's not that design we are looking for. And it's not that design we promote at the castle. So let me tell [you] what "design" means. Almost [everybody] understands that design is really good business. What I would like to show is a product, simple traffic lights, produced in a local company and designed by a young Silesian designer. The new product is much easier to construct, less expensive, very easy to remove and to repair. And maybe it is worth mentioning that these traffic lights are exported to 23 countries all over the world. There are hundreds of different definitions of design. The latest one, given by a 4-year-old, Marta, is that design "makes things simple." My private definition of design is that design is a quality. This is really important to underline in a country like Poland. Quality driven by expertise, science, and cooperation between specialists from different fields. What you see on the screen is the iconic carpet "DIA," designed and produced in Silesia by the Moho company. You see a very traditional pattern, and you also see a very traditional material. It is wool felt. But the whole carpet is cut by water laser. Design -- has a huge impact on public space, which in Poland, in fact, belongs to nobody. What you see is just a communication system, designed, again, by Silesian designers for the airport in Katowice-Pyrzowice. Very logical, useful, clear. And attractive with violet and green colors. The nearest issue, challenge for design is designing public services. And this probably happened to everyone of you. [Not being able], with this Intercity ticket, to distinguish between the train number, the carriage number and the seat number. It would have been so easy to use a proper, or different, typeface. A different size of the letters, or even pictograms, to make this ticket [intelligible] to Polish travelers, but also for foreigners. I think that we already know something about added value for businesses. But we know almost nothing about how [great] power design has for social economy. This small object... It is a piggy bank. Simple, funny. Designed for a couple, to invite you to compete in saving money. (Laughter) (Applause) That is part of a bigger project. Thanks to the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, a group of young Polish designers from the [Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts] and the Holon Institute of Technology, from Israel, were working together and designed, and made prototypes for a social foundation in Cieszyn. The chosen products, and this piggy bank, are now manufactured by homeless and jobless people in Cieszyn. That's a nice story. And this is the way to come back to Cieszyn. And to the fundamental question: why do we promote design in such a small, provincial town. And the answer is easy. Why not! (Laughter) When I met Peter Wirtz in 2004, so just before we opened the Center, full of doubts and full of fear [about how] to design a design center far away from the centers, from the biggest media, businesses, art academies, international fairs. He told me... "Who knows where Coca-Cola is made? Be the best. People will find you." It is not very easy, as you can suppose. We've been looking all the time for different funds. These graphic signs you see, these are logos of our European projects we've been realizing with local government, companies, associations, public administration. From handicrafts, to the newest technologies. But as you are [very] aware, funding is important. But it's not the most important, because people are much more important, with their enthusiasm, work, beliefs and dreams. And we are people, and we have dreams, and we still have some ideas worth realizing. So because of the rapid development of the castle, we got the new -- Oh, wait a moment. That's it, you see. The new building. Quite ugly. It's an old border post from the 60's. Located exactly on the border line between Poland and Czech Republic. The first sight we greet you [with] in Poland. And we do have plans to change it. With the great help of the famous Polish -- again -- Silesian -- architect, Robert Konieczny, to have a much more comfortable place, to organize, for example, international events on the border. We hope we will do it. And we hope that we will get this chance again. Because I do believe that "if you can dream it, you really can do it." Thank you. (Applause)

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 59 seconds
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxKraków
Director: TEDxKraków
Views: 751
Posted by: tedxkrakow on Dec 15, 2010

Talk delivered at TEDxKraków, on October 15, 2010.

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