Exhibitions

The Things of Warsaw – core exhibition / Room of Silverware and Plated Silverware

Julia Keilowa’s sweet silver ball

The sugar bowl dates back to the 1930s. It was designed by Julia Keilowa on the commission of Norblin’s plating company. Made of silver-coated brass, it is 11.5 cm high. It is designed in the shape of a ball – a basic geometric spacial form – considered to be the perfect shape since antiquity. It represents the style of Art Deco, popular in the interwar period.

The beauty of Julia Keilowa’s sugar bowl derives from the simplicity of its form. What was the origin of such design? In early 20th century, artists and art theorists arrived at the conclusion that civilisational transformations taking place in the modern world require for a new language of art and architecture, appropriate for the new Zeitgeist, to be developed. Cubism paved the way for the changes and was followed by Futurism, abstract art, and Constructivism. One of the most characteristic features of these avant-garde movements was aiming at maximum synthesis of forms – simplifying them, making them more geometric, and, eventually, reducing them to the most basic geometric shapes. Artists were inspired by technology and construction engineering, which were subordinate to the rules of functionality and rationality of geometric constructions. Machines were a universal subject of awe – they became inspirations for works of art and architecture. The elements of the artistic language of the avant-garde movements, especially the geometry of the form, started to be widely used outside these circles in the 1920s and 1930s. They were also adopted by the Art Deco movement, one of the representatives of which was Julia Keilowa. These ideas permanently transformed design in applied arts and the aesthetic of the everyday life.