A Look At Józef Chierowski, the Polish Midcentury Design Icon You've Probably Never Heard Of
Though few people outside of Poland may recognize the name Józef Chierowski (1927–2007), the midcentury designer has long been a household name in his home country—and one furniture brand, 366 Concept, is set to expand his legacy with a reissue of one his most popular designs.
Called the 366 Easy Chair, the resurrected 1962 design was one of the most ubiquitous Polish furniture items from the period, found in "almost every home, office, coffee shop, and restaurant in Poland," notes Maciek Cypryk, who along with Agata Gorka, is cofounder of 366 Concept.
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"To some extent, it owes its popularity to luck. It all began in the early 1960s, in Świebodzice," he explains, where the Lower Silesian Furniture Factory was severely damaged by a fire. "Suddenly, there was an urgent need to create simple furniture that could be quickly produced. Józef Chierowski, then a young designer and an apprentice at the factory, decided to take advantage of the situation. Management of the Świebodzice factory admired its aesthetics and minimalism, and decided to put it into mass production straight away."
An instant success upon its release, Chierowski's design sold more than 500,000 copies throughout the Eastern Bloc from the 1950s up until the 1980s—when Communism came to a halt in Poland, causing a majority of the country's state-owned factories to go bankrupt. Now holding the exclusive manufacturing rights to the chair, 366 Concept worked with Chierowski's family to bring the archival design back into life. Produced entirely in Poland, the 336 Easy Chair reissue joins a few additional variations: the 366 PLUS, a slightly larger-set scale of the original easy chair (altered to "fit the size of modern people—in 1962, people were shorter," explains Cypryk); 366 JUNIOR, a smaller model for children; the Bunny Easy Chair, named for its bunny ear–shaped armrests; as well as a rocking chair, double seater, and three sizes of coffee tables.
This September at the 100% Design festival in London, 366 Concept will also release 366 METAL, a contemporary re-edition of a previously unrealized chair prototype based on a metal frame, which Cypryk describes as "one of Chierowksi's least-known designs that has long ignited the imagination of Polish midcentury design lovers."
Four decades after Chierowski's heyday, Cypryk is convinced it's due time to revisit his legacy. "Time has passed, and right now in Poland, people are rediscovering midcentury design, its timeless beauty and aesthetics," he says. "At 366 Concept we're looking to present these forgotten design icons to the whole world."