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Sugar bowl “Sphere”

The item we are putting in your hands is an expression of our appreciation and respect for Polish design of the inter-war period and the tradition and heritage of the Norblin, Buch Brothers and T. Werner Factory in Warsaw, dating back to the mid-18th century. The original of this unique Art Deco sugar bowl was designed by Julia Keilowa, one of the most recognisable industrial artists of her generation, a sculptor and metalworker whose rapidly flourishing career was interrupted by World War II. In order to bring back at least a fragment of this unique heritage to the modern world, we have relaunched the production of a limited series of faithful copies of this exceptional object.

Very attractive in its simple yet highly original and eye-catching form, the sugar bowl was designed around 1935 by Julia Keilowa for the Norblin Factory, Buch Brothers and T. Werner. Julia Keilowa (1902-1943) was a graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts and studied sculpture and metalwork under such figures as Karol Stryjeński, Tadeusz Breyer and Józef Czajkowski. She created her own designs, focusing on objects of everyday use. Her talent was quickly recognised by Warsaw silver-plating companies (apart from cooperating with the Norblin factory, she made designs for Fraget and Henneberg, among others), which at the time had a strong position on the market and their products were known not only throughout Poland but also in Europe and in Transcaucasia. Her individual, distinctive style was appreciated by many, chiefly by connoisseurs and lovers of sophisticated and bold design of metal goods. She designed in the Art Deco style, and her works are part of the decorative modernism trend, which was greatly popular in Poland at the time. Her work was characterised by the use of simple geometric spatial forms, such as the sphere, the cuboid or the cube, reduced to a simple form where light played the main role, exposing a variety of nuances depending on the angle. Aiming to achieve a harmonious combination of form, function and material, she relied on combining simple and expressive forms with unique, eye-catching details and decorations. As a result, the objects were not only extremely interesting pieces of applied art but were also attractive complete visual masterpieces in their own right. Julia Keilowa collaborated with the Institute of Art Propaganda, was a member of the sculpture studio Forma, and worked as a ceramics teacher. Her thriving career as a designer was brutally interrupted by World War II. The artist shared the fate of thousands of Varsovians of Jewish origin, whose place and exact date of death are still unknown. She probably died around 1943 in occupied Warsaw.

The “Sphere” sugar bowl reproduced by commission of the Norblin Factory Museum is a faithful reproduction of the 1935 design, both in the production method and the materials used. The main part of the object, the bowl in the form of a sphere with a cut-out opening for the lid, is made of brass plate, and the same material is also used for additional elements, including the decorative handle in the form of a characteristic comb. The base of the sugar bowl is cast in bronze, and the whole is plated with conservation-grade silver. Its specific spherical form makes its production extremely complicated and requires time and great precision, including in the making of the internal skeleton on which the entire design hinges.

It took more than two years to recreate the technology and make faithful copies of the sugar bowls, and more than three months to produce the first 30 sugar bowls of the limited series. By invitation of the Norblin Factory Museum, Tomasz Gil, a talented Warsaw-based metalworker with many years of professional experience, is responsible for both these processes. In his work, he uses primarily manual techniques, nowadays less wide-spread as they have been displaced by machine tools. Thanks to the use of old-fashioned craft methods and original designs, his workshop creates one-of-a-kind products.

We are proud that this collaboration brings back to life one of the most interesting items of Polish industrial design of the inter-war period, and that faithful, carefully hand-made reproductions of the sugar bowl can once again appear in the homes of Polish collectors. Thus, the highly original and internationally recognisable tradition of Warsaw silver-plating has found its continuation.