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Socially engaged design. Winners of the international make me! competition organized by Łódź Design Festival have been revealed!

Written by:
Bartłomiej Jankowski
Łódź Design Festival

On the 18 of May in the Art Factory in Łódź, the official opening ceremony of the Łódź Design Festival 2023 took place. During the event, the organizers presented the winners of the international make me! competition for young designers that are entering their professional career path. As every year, the awarded entries stood out in terms of their out-of-the-box design approach, technological innovations and social engagement.

171 designs were submitted to this years’ 16th edition of the competition, out of which 25 were selected as finalists.Entries came from countries such as Poland, Germany, Holland, the UK, Greece, Ukraine or Hungary. The designs were assessed by a jury composed of esteemed practitioners and experts in the theory of design, i.e. Maurizio Burrato, Maja Ganszyniec, Szymon Hanczar, Joanna Krokosz, Michał Piernikowski, Tomek Rygalik and Ingrid van der Wacht.The assumption of the competition organized every year by the Łódź Design Festival is to promote young designers and their bold, pioneering ideas, to support a creative, experimental approach to design and to forecast changes in thinking about design and approaching trends. As emphasised by the jurors, the entries submitted for this year’s competition represented high functional and formal value and their common denominator was innovation. Many entries featured solutions responding to the challenges of contemporary times, e.g. the war in Ukraine, energy crisis, biodiversity, locality, the future of craftsmanship or the quest for new, alternative materials. Young designers submitting their entries to make me! proved to be very sensitive, not indifferent to social or environmental problems. As one of the jurors, Joanna Krokosz, emphasised, the entries are evidence that design and activism very often follow the same route.Ultimately the jury decided to award 5 designs.

Winners of the make me! Design Award 2023

Special make me! award and PLN 5000 thousand were awarded to the Hose Pillar design a ceramic 3D printed brick (Fania Kolaiti, Greece).

 “Hose Pillar” is a ceramic 3D printed brick, made from terracotta clay which originates from a Polish village called Czerwona Woda. The projects offers a solution to hot dry climate whereby the energy-intensive air-conditioning is replaced with ceramic walls made from cooling bricks. The structure of the 3D printed brick features narrow tunnels that compress the incoming air and release it in the interior of the building. This action mimics air conditioning but does not consume electricity and minimises the CO2 footprint. It was inspired by the widespread architectural Roman brick, with a ratio of 1:2:4.

 “I wanted to combine ceramics with modern technologies – in this case 3D printing – which provides new opportunities of working with this material. I come from the region of Greece, affected by heat waves in the summer months. I reached out for the method of cooling interiors known already in antiquity, relying on the use of ceramic bricks of adequate structure. My design demonstrates that ceramics still has huge potential in architecture – said the designer.


The third place and the make me! INTERPRINT AWARD in the amount of PLN 10 thousand was awarded to the Fragment.Vasen design (Barbara Koniecka, Maximilian Stahl, Poland, Germany).

Fragment.Vasen is a series of wooden vases hand made from materials obtained from upcycling. Thanks to a layer of natural beeswax covering the internal walls, they are waterproof but also fully biodegradable.

 “Our design makes reference to nature and craft. We wanted to make use of the mass-produced waste of the timber industry. We gave them a second life – we made a collection of vases which are functional and decorative. Our goal was to present the beauty of raw materials. They are hand-made and due to the method used – splitting wood with an axe – we emphasised its characteristic, rough structure” – say the authors.


The second place and the make me! Design Award and PLN 10 thousand were awarded ex aequo to Me, myself, AI (Jan Wilczak, Poland) and the Chariot of life (Piotr Tłuszcz, Poland).

The context for the Me, myself, AI design is yet another technological revolution that is approaching. Using the model of generative adversarial networks, the author taught artificial intelligence the concept of three objects – a chair, a table and a ceramic dish. He then observed its development and analysed how manipulating the variables impacts the direction of style development. As a result, prototypes of three objects were created – a chair, a table and a ceramic dish of an unspecified function. The main criterion for the selection of these designs was the creation of artificial intelligence which is able to design consistent objects with their distinguishable, own style.

 “This is an experiment as well as a critical design which makes us wonder about the essence of creativity, asks questions about whether computers can also be creative or creativity is a trait attributable to humans exclusively” – confesses the designer.


The Chariot of life is a MEDEVAC type vehicle intended for the evacuation of the wounded from the battlefield. It consists of an off-road Da Orffo trailer, with suspension designed to be used on rough terrain and an evacuation module to transport an injured person on stretchers under the care of rescuers. The design is a response to the Russian aggression in 2022. The low weight and high suspension of the trailer create an innovative solution facilitating the transport of an injured person by any vehicle fitted with a hook, regardless of its current load. The concept was consulted with rescuers and medics from the battlefield. Two vehicles have been manufactured and delivered to a Ukrainian army unit and a Polish team of rescuers.

 “In recent years I have been designing off-road trailers with my father. When the war in Ukraine started, we wondered how we could help. We saw that the Ukrainian army was transporting injured people in civil off-road vehicles in very uncomfortable conditions, e.g. in trunks. We thought that our suspension solutions were good enough to make sure a person could be transported in a comfortable and safe way” – says the creator of the Chariot of life.


The first place and the make me! Design Award and PLN 15 thousand was awarded to the SYGNIS Stasis – 3D printed, combat tested (Maciej Głowacki, Olga Kozłowska – Design Department SYGNIS S.A., Poland)

Stasis is a life-saving piece of medical equipment. An effective, correctly placed band totally cuts off blood supply to an injured limb, largely reducing the risk of death on the battlefield. Ukrainians fighting off the Russian aggression have been informing about an urgent need for them. The low quality 3D printed stasis equipment being sent to Ukraine in large quantities has caused scepticism among medics and the military towards using 3D printing. Therefore the authors decided to thoroughly analyse the production process and mechanics of certified stasis, in order to come up with their own proposal. They had the design thoroughly checked by medical rescuers, the military, field medics and material specialists. After rigorous laboratory tests, they shipped the first batch to the front, and then received a request for more.So far, they have donated over 1700. 3 lives are known to have been saved thanks to the designs.

 “We are very surprised because the design was not made to be shown off or gain for applause. We intended it to be real design, design in response to a crisis. We wanted to do something that would work and help – and improve the world in a manner of speaking. This is the best thing about a designer’s work” – said the authors of the winning design.


All the designs that made it to the final of make me! 2023 will be shown at the “Laboratory of innovation” exhibition during this year’s edition of the Łódź Design Festival, which is going to last until May 28.

A distinction in the make me! competition is a prestigious, expert recommendation for designers taking their first steps in a professional career. It’s also an opportunity to present their designs to a wider audience: designers, manufacturers and actual consumers. Authors whose works have been presented during the make me! final exhibitions before, are nowadays often esteemed designers in Poland and overseas.

More information about all finalists of make me! 2023 contest can be found at https://lodzdesign.com/en/musthave/catalog/

Łódź Design Festival 2023 was created with the contribution of the Łódzkie Centrum Wydarzeń and the city of Łódź.The sponsors of the event also include the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Interprint, Geberit and Cosentino.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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