I’ve been here; I hope the same for you, Henryk Tomaszewski, Warsaw

I do not have patience to admire beauty in itself–skilful eye or hand. I prefer failure to mastered perfection… I am not interested in showing-off accomplished forms anymore. I enjoy, instead, playing with a language I do not know yet.

 Henryk Tomaszewski, editor Agnieszka Szewczyk, translation Kinga Kowalczyk

I have recently visited Zachęta – National Gallery of Art in Warsaw where Henryk Tomaszewski’s graphic work is on show till 10th June. The exhibition and the work of the leader of the Polish Poster School was a revelation and a fortunate coincidence. In this post I used some of the photographs I had shot in the gallery, fragments of the exhibition catalogue, Steven Heller’s article for the New York Times (2005) and one of the episodes of the Polish Film Chronicles (1978).




Even when he made a poster to advertise another artist’s exhibition, Mr. Tomaszewski interpreted the content. For example, to announce a 1959 show of Henry Moore’s sculptures, he created a veritable sculpture garden from the letters of the artist’s name and placed Moore’s “Mother and Child” on a pedestal made from the “O” in Moore. But this handling of the subject was not just a flagrant personal conceit; Mr. Tomaszewski succeeded in showcasing the salient features in Moore’s work that were akin to his own.

Steven Heller, Henryk Tomaszewski, Leader of the Polish Poster School, Dies at 91

PKF – Polish Film Chronicle, a 10 minute long newsreel, was part of the official information media in the communist Poland. I decided to use one of the episodes here to give a feel for the times in which Tomaszewski lived and worked in.

“Politics is like the weather,” he once said, “you have to live with it.” His art benefited from this resistance, since he was forced to come up with concealed satiric images in his work. He stayed clear of overtly political issues and focused entirely on designing posters for cultural institutions and events.

Steven Heller, Henryk Tomaszewski, Leader of the Polish Poster School, Dies at 91

So much more than just a buzzword?

Maria Popova  in an interview for Steven Heller’s book Writing and Research said:

The design world, especially the ever-growing piece of it that deals with the intersection of design and business, or creativity and corporation, tends to reduce complex arguments and ideas to sound bites that can fit on a Powerpoint slide. (Okay, perhaps Keynote.) Over the past few years–or, some might even say, decades–words and terms that once stood for something have become vacant of meaning, thrown around as weightless fluff.

What is Design Thinking?

Creative thinking-in-action.


A discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.

Design Thinking by Tim Brown, Harvard Business Review, June 2008  

A comfort zone where graphic metaphors are the basis for creating and co creating.

Visual Facilitation by Jane Cheng, ID PURE, issue No. 30 


Can designers design without thinking?

Do doctors feel the need to remind us that they think about health?

…As designers, we can stand at the intersection of creativity and enterprise; the place where thinking and knowing and creative leaps of faith are integrated.

Cheryl Heller 

Whether or not I like the buzzwords, they have strategic muscle. I have long been suspicious of the term ‘design thinking’, believing that all designers think, so to separate it from quotidian matters is basically marketing-speak.

Writing and Research by Steven Heller 

Design Stinking? No, Design Thinking.

It lulls people into thinking they are being creative when they are not. It harbors procrastination and stereotypical thinking, substitutes process for real invention. It robs design of dimension by placing it solely in the world of the brain when design is much more than rational thinking – it is emotion and intuition and sensing and gut.

Cheryl Heller 

How Design Thinking happens?

The design process is best described metaphorically as a system of spaces rather than a predefined series of orderly steps. The spaces demarcate different sorts of related activities that together form the continuum of innovation.

Design Thinking by Tim Brown, Harvard Business Review, June 2008 

Unlike analytical thinking, design thinking is a creative process based around the “building up” of ideas. There are no judgments early on in design thinking. Outside the box thinking is encouraged in these early processes since this can often lead to creative solutions.


Finally, since Edward de Bono is many designers hero, I thought the quote below might be a good ending, or a beginning…

Wasps chew up wood, mix it with their saliva and make it into a fine paste which dries into a material that is both lightweight and strong – paper. The common European wasp produces a very high-quality paper, and with it builds nests of great perfection. Within identical hexagonal cells, a huge workforce is raised to serve the queen and maintain the nest.

From Trials of Life (Home Making) by Sir David Attenborough