PROFESSION: DESIGNER – JADWIGA HUSARSKA REVEALS THE SECRETS OF HER WORK
The Exspace website has published an interview with Jadwiga Husarska. During the conversation the designer tells us about her professional career, the decisions she’s made and challenges she has yet to overcome. Among others we can find out from the interview how she perceives having worked for Paged Meble and why she decided to start her own design studio. Click “read more” for an english version.
ABOUT CONSCIOUSLY DESIGNING ONE’S PROFESSIONAL CAREER – ZDZISŁAW SOBIERAJSKI TALKS WITH JADWIGA HUSARSKA.
Zdzisław Sobierajski talks with Jadwiga Husarska, CEO of Husarska Design Studio, about different ways to build company’s advantage, what makes designers leave corporations and start their own design studios.
Zdzislaw Sobierajski: Jadwiga. You graduated in 2009, and I remember that you instantly received a job offer at Paged. How have you designed it?
Jadwiga Husarska: I began working on projects as a designer already in the first year of my studies at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, where I was studying at the Department of Industrial Forms. Ever since I was a child, I had a knack for arts and dreamed of creating spatial objects. At first I planned to become a sculptor like my mother, and then – an inventor like my grandfather. I always knew what I wanted to do in life, what I feel passionate about and what brings me satisfaction. It’s design. Over the course of my career I have met many inspiring people, and by meeting themI became confident that I had made the right choice. Within the art of designing, I’ve always been interested in the product implementation process, the marketing and staying in touch with the industry. I believe that is exactly why Paged offered me the position of Chief Designer and Product Development Director.
Do you think that your role in the student Makulatura group had an impact on your further professional development ?
Certainly. Over my time spent at the university, I actively searched for possibilities to develop. That is why I decided to study abroad at, among others, the Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design in Budapest or the Lahti Institute of Design.The Makulatura project group allowed me to experience how much effort it requires to implement one’s original ideas from start to finish. Along with other designers, I organised workshops, lectures and meetings. I also acted as the group leader which required competence in regard to people skills. I handled my duties flawlessly, always finding satisfaction in them. But, more importantly, my experience at Makulatura helped me gain a better understanding of the possibilities offered by ecological materials, including my beloved wood.
You worked for Paged for several years. You implemented many of your projects there. Tell us, what made you leave the corporation and start your own design studio?
I felt and knew that I can do even more designing. Paged is a strong Polish brand with a wonderful history. They are focused on a specific industry. I would very quickly fill up my sketchbook with new ideas for products that went beyond the Paged’s area of interest. So I took the risk and started my own studio. I invited talented designers to work with me and we’ve been implementing our own projects ever since. But my adventure with Paged has not yet come to an end. For instance, this spring I designed their Aldo chair.
Most Polish design companies about whose implementations we read and hear, are run by university lecturers. Your company is a product design studio which breaks this pattern. In your opinion, is it easier to acquire new orders whilst being employed at a university at the same time?
Such a model has its upsides and downsides. An undeniable advantage of combining the role of a lecturer and CEO of a studio, is frequent contact with a large number of people from various environments, as well as with dedicated students. Lecturers have an access to a wide circle of investors, but they also have to duly perform their numerous academic duties. I know very well how time-consuming it is to manage Husarska Design Studio, maintain contacts with the clients, not to mention the designing itself. This is what I want to focus on right now. I believe that such dedication tends to be met with appreciation and creates a positive image of my studio’s brand as a place, where the client can always directly talk or meet with me. I am simply always available for them.
Only two design brands with considerable achievements in implementation, have emerged in the Polish market in the recent years. I’m thinking of Kabo-Pydo and Husarska Design Studio. What problems have you observed after going from a freelancer to running an LLP company?
As you noticed before, I always tried to meticulously design my professional career. Husarska Design Studio is another stage which I had started planning many years before. I was preparing myself for it at the university, at Makulatura, as a freelancer and as Chief of Product Design. Each of these experiences allowed me to gain a unique set of skills, meet new people and face more and more difficult challenges. Finally, there came the moment when I felt that I am ready to run my own studio. Under my own name. I was aware how hard it is to establish a limited liability partnership, but I felt the urge to face the challenges and was strong enough to do it. If you’re asking about the specifics, establishing new business relations and management are most definitely the most troublesome aspects.
Is it easy in the Polish market today, to find good employees for a studio which designs products for industry and the economy?
Zdzisław, I’m sure you’ve seen the products branded by Husarska Design Studio. Do you believe that they come from mediocre designers? Certainly not. I am proud of my team which constantly surprises me not only with their creativity, but also knowledge, hard work and a yearning for steady development. Thus, I absolutely may not complain to you about difficulties with finding good workers. Of course each of my co-workers had to go through a demanding recruitment process, and prove their “combat effectiveness” afterwards. Which embodies the ability to balance one’s ambitions with the clients’ expectations, responsibility for the entrusted tasks, sharing one’s knowledge with the rest of the team and being open to the ideas of others.
How do you create your company’s competitive advantage? How do you convince an investor to choose your company among the competitors?
It wasn’t without reason that I used my last name to brand the studio. This way I’m showing that I take part in the creation of each project. I guarantee the clients that there will always be a possibility of direct contact with me. Me and my team are also aware that a well performed project does not depend solely on us. The client and the future beneficiaries of the product can also contribute to its successful implementation. It is our job to listen to the principal and the users. These objectives tend to evaporate during creative brainstorming sessions. By cooperating with us, the clients can be certain that they have a steady access to our works, their comments will always be listened to and the final result will take the users’ needs into consideration. We often work in inter-disciplinary teams, combining the knowledge from various fields, psychology, sociology and marketing. Our clients often ask for our help in regard to their companies’ development strategies. This proves of the considerable credit of trust we receive from them.
Your company has been operating for three years now. Many of the projects from the Husarska Studio have become implemented and gone into serial production. Can you give the aspiring designers your recipe, how to make a name for yourself in the Polish market?
We often admire athletes for how many hours a day they spend training. We give examples of famous musicians who would spend all day long mastering their instrument. Maybe someday, someone will remind people how exhausting it is to be a designer? Constantly acquiring knowledge, making hundreds of attempts at a single project, perfecting even the tiniest details… It all takes time, patience and persistence. Unfortunately, I am not in capacity to give you an honest answer.
Apart from being a famous product designer (and more), you run your own company and managing a team of people; you also have other, important tasks to do. Tell me please, how are you capable of combining professional activity with being a mom? It is the toughest job in the world, requiring undivided devotion.
Yes, you are right. But you forgot to add that it is also the most inspiring job in the world. I do not wish to sound too sophisticated, but I believe that by designing products for a wide number of areas, such as furniture, public spaces, fitness equipment, we have the possibility of making this world a bit more friendly. And it is my sons who will inhabit this world. Therefore, everything I do, I do it with them in mind. Besides, there is nothing more comforting than coming back to my family every single day: to my kids and husband who, like no one else supports me in all my endeavours.
Jadwiga. Thank you so much for this interview and I will be rooting for you with your next projects and implementations.