Take me home with you

Małgorzata Bany is still young but already a celebrated “maker” – thanks to the expressive style with which she shapes objects from Jesmonite.
by Martina Metzner | 2/28/2019

“Fine art is that in which the hand, the head and the heart of man go together,” suggested John Ruskin, who with his writings decisively influenced the Arts-and-Crafts movement in the latter decades of the 19thcentury. About 150 years later it would appear that what the movement tried to achieve is more topical than ever, namely a shift away from mass production in favor of hand-crafted objects for everyday use that focus on the people utilizing them. If one considers the “maker” movement then it would seem the artistic crafts are back in fashion. And it is not surprising that it is mainly at home in England if one casts a glance back at the Arts-and-Crafts tradition. The organization “The New Craftsmen” brings together about 100 of these ambitious “makers” from all over Great Britain who are busy in small, local workshops artistically crafting textiles, ceramics, furniture, luminaires, baskets and decorative articles. 

Małgorzata Banyis one of these makers. She is calm, confident and exudes a power all of her one. Bany studied at the famous “Slade School for Fine Art” in London, where once upon a time Eileen Gray listened in on lectures. Bany is still young, but has already developed a clear design style of her own. She takes a multidisciplinary approach, because her designs stem from the material she uses. To be specific, Jesmonite. From which she then shapes furniture, luminaires, homeware, and sculptures. Jesmonite is an extraordinary material that can be shaped at will. It consists of a mixture of cement or plaster with additives and water-based acrylic resin, too. The composite renders stable shapes, is easy to cut, and can also be poured into molds. Moreover, it can be consistently dyed, and combined with any number of different added materials. In 1984, British company Jesmonite first launched it as an alternative to fiberglass. And since then it is highly popular among sculptors, archaeologists and set-makers for model building purposes – and in architecture where it is used to create ornaments. Very recently, designers have also started experimenting with Jesmonite. 

Małgorzata Bany stand out for their volume and their soft rounded shapes, boasting surfaces that are in some cases smooth, and in others seem very hand-shaped and imperfect. At the London Design Festival “The New Craftsmen” presented Bany’s “Pilotis” series in their own showroom: Tables, stools and a console, all of them defined by out-sized but nevertheless well-proportioned shapes. “Pilotis” are a bestseller, or so “The New Craftsmen” says, despite having a price tag of 2,250 pounds upwards. You find yourself asking: Why do we feel spontaneously touched by these objects? They radiate a primordial force, perhaps because they draw on archaic shapes, yet likewise possess a strong contemporary thrust if one considers how they are made and what they are made from. This stark contrast creates an exciting tension, while the compact volumes of the “Pilotis” seem cuddly and innocent. As if they were reaching out and asking: “Please take me home with you.”