New East Digital Archive

The human trace: traditional Polish porcelain puts the focus on people

30 March 2017

As speculations fly about robots taking over jobs in industry, making the human workforce redundant, Poland’s oldest porcelain factory has sought to put people back in the spotlight.

The Human Trace tableware range sees traditional porcelain, produced in the village of Ćmielów since 1790, stained blue with the fingerprints of factory workers.

Forming part of anthropologist and curator Ewa Klekot’s and ceramist Arkadiusz Szwed’s People from the Porcelain Factory project, the porcelain highlights the enduring importance of humans in industrial manufacturing.

To give the tableware a certain human touch, workers (wearing gloves) dipped their fingertips in cobalt blue salts, with their fingerprints becoming imprinted on the surface of the clay as they handled it on the production line.

“The project emphasises how valuable man is in a factory. It shows us that the porcelain that we use is a result of human work and that this human touch is part of the whole manufacturing process,” Szwed said in a statement to Dezeen. “These days manufacturers remove the traces of human labour. By showing how many people from the production line touched a product, it stops being anonymous.”

The Human Trace was presented at DesignMarch 2017 in Iceland.

Source: Dezeen