Designer Katarzyna Gemborys: Transforming Glass into Fashion

“The direct contact with fire, the almost instant transformation of glass is essential for my way of creating.”


To begin, can you please briefly introduce yourself as who you are and how did you get into design? My name is Katarzyna, I’m based in Wroclaw, in Poland. Currently I’m an assistant at the Fundamentals of Design Studio at the Interior Architecture and Design Department, at The E. Geppert Academy of Fine Art and Design were this year I gained PhD in Design.

Since childhood I liked to have something different, unusual – so the shortest way was to create my own world. It grew up with me and transform into urge to make people happy with my designs. So it goes on 🙂

If you could explain your art works to the world, how would you describe it? My glass objects meant to present different types of female attitudes, temperament types or the roles attributed to them through the medium of pieces of jewelry with hyperbolic, exaggerated forms. It was also something of an occasion to proceed with an undertaking the ultimate goal of which was to address the challenge of working in laboratory glass using the blowtorch and my own hands. Throughout the creative process I examined to what extent it was possible to manipulate the material. At the same time I scrutinized the obstacles engendered by the body which was defined as the medium and the main inspiration. I arrived at the point at which, paradoxically, the body ceased to be an autocrat for a piece of jewelry and the piece of jewelry ceased to be a mere decoration subordinate to the body. I emphasize the beauty of the body, the way it moves and it positions itself at a given moment.

Katarzyna, how did you come up with an idea to create accessories out of glass? Have you discovered a need for this type of product in the marketplace? It was more compilation of my passions. I always have huge interest in jewelry – but more like every girl to put on some earrings, rings, to find unusual design. Then I went for Erazmus scholarship to The Czech Republic where we had glass design and jewelry design at one department. That was the moment I ask myself why not combine both ways. And from that time I try to do my best. Even if I’m moving now more into interiors (interior architecture) for me it is still jewelery – this time jewelry for home.

Why glass in particular? Would you say glass reflects your personality? My adventure with glass (and through glass to design) started years ago, when I was still in high school. It was a love at first sight. I took part in summer lamp work courses. After some experiments with other techniques like mold casting, cold shaping, glass blowing and so on… I found my way to fire and glass. The direct contact with fire, the almost instant transformation of glass is essential for my way of creating. It allows me to follow my instincts in exploring and crossing the boundaries amongst good design, glass and human body.

What is it in your world that you feel moved by when you create? Where does your inspiration come from?From everywhere! My mind doesn’t stops working and inspirations are everywhere. i.e. during concert pianist’s fingers captured me so much that I made up complete new series of objects. Trip to nearby forest, leaf on my car’s rear window, exotic funghi’s in photo album, history of place where I live or visiting, body shape of model at picture in magazine…everything can be this bomb, trigger to start new designs.

What else do you create? I just started new platform for my designs, called House Full of Glass. It’s general name for small gadgets, lamp and furniture I create. It’s an expansion from body into interiors. Here I moved from decorating body into decorating interiors, homes.

What captures your attention when looking for the materials you use in your designs? I decided on laboratory glass due it’s qualities – has amazing abilities to capture light, almost colourless. Durability with high temperatures – so I can create big pieces. I use also other materials, but choice is always determined by glass and character, I want to achieve, of work. I try to use natural and precious material such as leather, good quality of fabrics, wood, ceramics to underline elegance of object.

Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection or is it more of an unplanned thing? Have you ever been surprised by the outcome of a project? At first is an idea. Then I start to do some research but more on technical angle – when inspiration comes from history, history of clothing then I try to find out how it was done back then, when it’s from nature – I try to find answers for questions, how it’s build, is there more similar plants, animals and so on. This mechanical approach lets me design best construction of piece.

When the object comes out as it should, maybe, I am not surprised, but very. When I’m working on piece for specific person and ordered piece lay on perfectly and when I see that smile (when everything is perfect as it should and client is happy) I’m overwhelmed with happiness.

Could you briefly describe the magic of your design process, from idea to a finished product?? How long does it usually take you to design for example one glass article? I cannot describe magic itself (it’ll loose it’s powers 😉 ) My way of work is bit different each time accordingly to project I’m working on. But in general it starts from an idea – or it comes to me, or it’s order from customer. Then, as I said, I do small research for technical issues and to find out more about my idea. From the beginning I do sketches (they are more just notes for me, showing general shape, character, atmosphere). When it’s order from someone – then I do final sketch, if not, I start working with glass and fire.

How long does it take – hard to say, depends directly from design – from a few days to a month.

Talking about your wearable art creations, is there a specific look you are going for, beyond functionality? What is your philosophy about the art of fashion and style? “Feel like Queen” – that was a title of my diploma (MA) collection, and it could be great motto for all my works. I want to underline, describe and elicit femininity. My work concentrate around body and relation between body and glass, how such cold, stiff structure trammel fragile body.

How do you intend people to feel when wearing your pieces? One-of-a-kind.

Which item of all your collections is your favorite and most significant for you? In your own view, what is your masterpiece? I do not have my favorite object, there are some I just don’t like so much as others. My biggest challenge was Infanta collection and Femininities (Ph.D collection). With Infanta I cooperated with VCPTrio and I had to merge my visions with musicians comforts – so there was lots of fittings and at the end everything went perfectly. With Femininities – those were, so far, the biggest pieces I’ve made, so again constructions were complicated and it has to be still wearable.

What has been the most memorable or exciting experience of your career, so far? Opening exhibition of Infanta collection with VCPTrio, Polish Fashion Now at Paris Fashion Week’15, Ph.D studies and diploma and all sessions with Karolina Skorek that always are more than just shooting great pictures, it’s full creative collaboration.

What do you find the most challenging part about working as a designer? Merging visions with reality – object, piece has to fulfill my idea, yet at the same time should be useful, and, when it’s ordered, to fulfill dreams of that person.

Is there a person that is a fashion inspiration to you and you would like to collaborate with? (why?) That’s tricky question – the list is endless.

I don’t have such One artists, inspiration for me is everything and everyone that surrounds me. Rather contemporary artists, but history of art is also very important for me.

What can we expect from Katarzyna Gemborys Design in the future? More of my works, I cannot stop. Definitely House Full of Glass – that’s my new thing, but it doesn’t mean that I quit jewelry.

What is the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you? That everything is possible! New ideas are exciting they keep me running.

What would you like to say to people starting in the creative business, do you have any tips? I’m at the beginning too, we can join our possibilities and increase power 🙂

All I could say clichés are like: do what you feel, what you love (but it’s true and I don’t think that there are better words). Be open for opportunities and go for any contests you could – even if not won, still new experience and new people:) and so on and on…

Do you have any social media channels where we can stay up to date with your designs? My web portfolio is at: behance.net/kat_gem Facebook page is: KatarzynaGemborysDesign

What is your favorite aspect of the job? To create. Doing magic from piece of glass and fire. Most important part is working – lampwork is like meditation, time slows, everything else is outside and I’m here, in this moment, mind is at peace, thoughts are floating around, and great recipes from cooworkers.

What superpower do you wish you had? Why? At first: third hand – handy at work, then flying, shapeshifting, understanding animals and other people

Tell one surprising fact about yourself.

I knitt.

Thank you, Katarzyna.


Publsihed in 2016 June Volume III: BUY NOW