Graduate of product and furniture design at Kingston School of Art, Zofia Stepniak proves a force to be reckoned with. Her organic fluid ‘Muco’ furniture designs caught the attention of the judges and won her a coveted ‘One to Watch’. Find out more about Zofia and her creative vision here.
My personal creative mission is if it does not make me smile, I’m not finished. Genuine smiles are contagious and that’s the disease I aim to spread. Imagine a smiling pandemic!
How do you feel about being spotted by the judges as a One to Watch – what does it mean to you?
How do I feel? Well chuffed of course! (said with cheek). I was not available to personally present my work on the judging day, and so I had settled with the achievement of being shortlisted. The fact that I came second and was spotted as a One to Watch has been a bonus and definitely contributed to some self belief. I was flattered to hear that the judges personally vouched for my work despite my absence. Marianne was extremely kind to inform me that I would not go unnoticed. I could not have asked for a bigger compliment.I remember reading Massimo Vignelli saying, “Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style.” So for Muco Series to get recognised without my voice communicating it, is the highest form of appraisal as it means I can now speak a fifth language: design. I already speak four (English, Spanish, Polish and German). But design is a universal language and so definitely the most valuable of the ones I’ve learnt so far.
How important is colour in your work and how do you choose and narrow down colours?
Colour is the oxygen and temperature to my work. It evokes memories and sentimentality. A deep Mediterranean blue reminding you of a blissful summer. Prior to deciding the colour palette the Muco series was lost. I tried so desperately to find a colour references online, as I was restrained to my house during lockdown. Nothing seemed to fit.
It was not until after my exam submission and when the lockdown restrictions were relaxed and my parents treated us with an escape to the Lake District that the colour palette made sense and brought the appropriate essence to Muco. For me, every detail of my design has to be considered and have an appropriate meaning.
What is your main source of inspiration?
People! People living the simplicity of day to day life and observing all our individual behavioural quirks.
What makes you happiest/most fulfilled in your creative process?
Finding connections. I approach design a bit like solving a detective case. I have a problem and then I go looking for clues that will inform the outcome. The best bit is overcoming that sense of hopelessness and defeat one always encounters during the process. In the Muco Series I exercised this a lot. Dancing in the unknown is one of the most important lessons of life. Not fighting the fog, but accepting that the fog WILL pass and you will have CLARITY. It was some arduous initial few months as I fought the urge to design as I knew, but my project was based on the process of unlearning, and so I had to stubbornly reject all I knew. Like Picasso said; and my initial starting point for the project, “it took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
What are you working on now?
Right now, I am unemployed so I am working on a few personal projects: one is in collaboration with two friends I met in Cologne during my Erasmus exchange at Köln International School of Design (KISD) and the other are two self-initiated projects. At the beginning of September, I visited my friends Abies and David Robinson to meet there gorgeous new born son. After a frustrated confession of despair regarding my professional and personal future with Brexit looming and the cost of living in London only rising. I could not see any hope for my future that did not include huge masses of financial and personal stress. We discussed the idea of setting up a creative studio together in which we could actualize all the projects our hearts desire and me relocating to Cologne. Within a week we decided on our studio name, logo and filmed a Kickstarter which will be released in October 2020. It all happened really fluidly and was totally unplanned; we named ourselves anno domini, and our motto is objects of resistance. The first project which we are raising money for, is to produce 100% transparent and ethical luxury jewellery.
Where do you want to be in 3 years’ time?
In 3 years time, I will be 27. Wow! I am not a planner, I live life spontaneously and live ad hoc. Although one thing is certain, I hope to be settled with my identity as a creative and thriving with a wholesome lifestyle. I would love to be living somewhere where my mind and eyes can rest. At the moment this place seems to be Cologne, where we are setting up our studio. I also have my eye on a course at the university of Gothenburg called Child Culture Design. Yet also have flirted with the idea of studying Pedagogy, Cultural Anthropology or Art and Humanities. Although one cannot plan these things, perhaps even expecting my first child while also continually developing projects and ways to remind us of our human truth and the beauty of life.
Creative high point?
My creative high point to date, was a project I did while on the Erasmus exchange at Kisd, and we had the challenge to create a nostalgic 80’s inspired one hit wonder. The result was a track that can be found on Youtube and Spotify called “Jack wants the 80’s back”. Go and take a listen with the volume turned up! Go on, have a boogie ! ☺ I am a very emotive person and I guess that matched quite well to this project as music is naturally a communication of emotion.
Creative low point?
Hmmmm, maybe now? I’ve sort of fallen out with creativity at the moment, given that my final projects were all done on the computer, I feel slightly creatively handicapped to some extent as I cannot physically work with my hands and move things at will. If there is anything my degree has taught me, it is that for me to work I need to be in a space where I will not be interrupted. A quiet space with walls where I can pin stuff up and have a 3D brainstorm.
Is there one person during your studies/life who has really made a difference to you? – Maybe in terms of encouraging you when you were at a low point, pushing you in different directions unlocking your potential etc.
Those who have met me along the way can affirm that creative journey so far has meandered greatly. I started in 2015, but did not complete my studies in a straightforward path as I battled some health issues, accompanied with a restlessness in my soul regarding my creative calling. All of the tutors at Kingston have been exemplary is helping me battle my emotional despair at many moments. My superhero though has to be Sally Gloyne for helping me learn the tools to control my emotions, and not letting my emotions control me
What is your favourite colour?
Green. Having grown up in the city, I find myself thirsting for green. For forests filled with evergreens, valleys covered in untamed grass and endless acres of shrubs.
Image credits: Zofia Stepniak
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