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introduction                     personae                     thanks

I spent my childhood and early youth between three places; big city of Wrocław where I was born in 1952, provincial town of Sędziszów Malopolski and Brussels, where I would spent most of my summer holidays at a friends’ house and learn about a then completely different reality.

I have a feeling that the experience of my architectural profession influences the way I present my biography here: the course of my studies in Krakow I perceive spatially, as a way from the Mathematics and Physics Department at the Jagiellonian University (which I never finished), the Faculty of Architecture at the Krakow University of Technology and the Faculty of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Similarly, in a spatial mode, I perceive the course of my professional carreer which was marked by the activity in three different fields. The first one was a teaching post at the Sculpture Studio at the Cracovian Faculty of Architecture. The second was the practical application of a spatial strategy for various public spaces. At first I mostly did theatre set designs and interior designs for sacral buildings.

Encouraged by the success of the non-figurative monument of the Polish Soldier during a prestigious competition in Paris, after the political change of August 1980, I took part in numerous competitions for monuments which abounded at that time. Thanks to the loyal help of my friend Jan Siek, a sculptor full of solidarity, I could pursue the interest in non-figurative approach to monument sculpture, which was often disregarded by competition juries. One of the results of this collaboration was the monument of Prisoners of Concentration Camps at the Rakowicki Cementary in Krakow. I am still involved in public space strategies working with the staff of the Sculpture Studio within the frame of the programme “Public Space as a Medium of Communication”. Since 1990 I took up designing wooden toys.

This third area of my interest has proved to be the biggest challenge so far, because in contrast to the teaching and design work, it required developing the whole structure for business activity. I had to build and equip the factory , employ people and train them, provide supplies, learn the business know-how, legal and technical standards, create own technologies, and develop marketing and sales to ensure the financing of the entire business. This has been by far the biggest confrontation with reality in my life. The most difficult aspect, in fact one almost impossible to overcome, turned out to be not the overcoming the economic and formal obstacles but the unfathomable social relations and lack of clearcut rules and points of reference. The very notion of a wooden toy had either folkloristic and ethnografic connotations in the style of Warsztaty Krakowskie [pre– First World War, Morris-like Krakow’s Workshops] or Cepelia [post-Second World War, socialist etno-design cooperative] or eco-designers’ ones and was more concerned with a decorative object called a toy than with children’s playtime and problems of childhood.

Since the late 1970’s I have been living in the countryside near the Beskidy mountains. After the transformation in 1989 there was a great need here for an idea how to utilize the masses of wood of fruit trees as well as the potential of the existing small carpenter’s workshops. My idea of producing wooden toys of my own design was of no interest to anyone. I and my wife Barbara made up our minds to start such business setting an example for others. This approach, in fact, seems to have resulted from the need to model the reality which is ingrained in our profession. In the end only as an architect I can find reasons for satisfaction in the twenty-year work on a wooden toy (whose production, costly in its very nature – apart from China – rather can not bring me a financial satisfaction). For the last fifteen years during the fair in Nuremberg I have an opportunity to notice how every year, huge global corporations make use and develop my designs which were displayed there the year before. When one of my employees saw a toy, made by him, in a small Bavarian shop, he felt immediately at home there. I experience something similar when I see a child in a street in Helsinki who is holding “my” little dachshund or I befriend Steven, a guy from New Zealand, thanks to the fact that he bought “my” little car in Tokio.

A second generation will soon have started playing with the wooden toys which were designed and produced by an architect. It seems quite probable that for this reason, soon young and gifted architects may appear.

Wojciech Bajor
Krakow, june 2010

photo by Anna Bajor

Copyright by Konrad Glos, Rafal Zub 2010