“I don’t know if I should give advice” – interview with the winner of a special prize in the contest make me! 2019

Mateusz Mioduszewski told us about his project “ASHka – ceramics from ash”, about combining binder with waste, about coal in Poland, the need to switch to clean energy and doing your best.


Once again, congratulations on winning the special prize for the “ASHka – ceramics from ash” project. The theme of this year’s Lodz Design Festival was „good life”. What does it mean for you? Do you believe a good life can be designed?

 I think that considering your life as good is a very individual issue. Each of us should look sideways at how we act and what values we follow. This is also the case for me, I try to live according to the values that I think are right.


What inspired you to create the award-winning project?

Mateusz: The driving force behind the creation of the project’s concept was the conference organized by the Zamek Cieszyn regarding the municipal waste management. Before the conference, I wanted to explore the topic of ecological waste treatment in Poland and in the world. Reading various types of articles, I accidentally came across a publication about ashes from private farms. The title of the article already pointed to the existing problem, which I was very interested in. In the text “Garbage will increase, because it is not known what to do with ash” published by the problem was shown very generally and on one side only. As it turns out, in many Polish municipalities, where heating of households is very common with the help of coal and other “fuels”, there is a problem of storing by-product which is ash. This material often accounts for up to one-fifth of all waste. Of course, in larger centers this problem is smaller, because gas is mainly used for heating. Further analyzing the topic, I came across publications about ash, which is produced in huge quantities in the energy and heating sector. It turns out that the management of waste from the power industry is a constant problem and only part of the material is reused. The beginnings of work related to the analysis of what is happening at all in this topic confirmed my belief that such a huge scale of the problem of post-production waste related to energy should have been solved a long time ago.

ASHka – ceramics from ash, design: Mateuszu Mioduszewski / from designer archive

ASHka – ceramics from ash, design: Mateuszu Mioduszewski / from designer archive

You emphasize that numerous attempts have led you to create a material containing up to 70% ash waste. What did your research involve?

Mateusz: The work on creating the material was to combine ash with various types of clays. in the beginning, I studied how ash behaves at different temperatures and how time spent in the oven affects this material. It gave me a picture of the temperatures at which ash can be burned without major physical losses. After determining the temperature range, I had to select binders in the form of clays that sinter at a given temperature. At this stage, it was quite important to develop a method for combining the binder with waste. Numerous attempts that involved variables such as sintering temperature, type of binder and its mixing, and the amount of waste added led me to materials that are physically similar to commonly used ceramics.


At the post-competition exhibition, the audience was delighted with your flower pots. What else can be made of this material?

Mateusz: As I mentioned before, the material I make has similar physical properties to ordinary ceramics. The mass is formed completely differently and after firing it has a higher porosity – so it’s  more absorbent. On the one hand, this limits me and on the other hand it favors some products – such as pots, for example. Currently, I am focusing on creating pots and tiles manually, because I see the potential for such application of my material. I think that the whole project will also go towards creating bowls, decorative and functional elements.

ASHka – ceramics from ash, design: Mateuszu Mioduszewski / from designer archive

ASHka – ceramics from ash, design: Mateuszu Mioduszewski / from designer archive

What awaits the “ASHka – ceramics from ash” project? Will you develop it?

Mateusz: I am constantly working on making the project real. This is a big undertaking. ASHka was a project that I created myself from the beginning. However, I know that in the near future this project will not be able to develop without cooperating with other people. I’m working on making objects made from ash appear in homes to be able to fully meet the amount of waste that needs to be used somehow.


Does your project have an implementation potential on an industrial scale? What kind of investors are you looking for, with whom would you like to cooperate?

Mateusz: I am at the stage of a small project that needs to be well planned. Then comes the time for talks with larger investors. I know that the method of producing ceramics that I propose is very different from the existing solutions. I am sure that adjusting the production will not be that difficult. I also plan to cooperate with several Polish producers in the production of ceramic plates and bricks (but I do not want to suspend yet whether this will happen :))


Are you working on something else right now?

Mateusz: Yes! I do very different things right now. A little while ago, we opened the space in the community club in Katowice, which I had the pleasure to design. The challenge was to create a quiet place for kids from more difficult families. I am also starting work on an art installation related to electronic waste and programming. The plan for the near future is also the continuation of the topic, which I began to implement, which concerns the re-use of natural wool. In addition, I work on graphic, photographic and stage design projects. So it’s just a bit of it.


When living in Silesia, you must have an opinion on fossil coal and its importance for Poland.


Mateusz: This is a difficult topic for me due to the fact that I analyzed it and I know what quantities of coal we are using. During the climate summit organized in December in Katowice, I had the opportunity to participate in a film show that showed how big a problem in Poland is to move away from traditional methods of generating energy and heat. I notice a large lobby of companies using and producing coal. I am very sad that the people representing our government are still claiming that Poland is standing in coal and does very little to change this state. I am against coal because of the warming emissions. On the other hand, I know that modern techniques of burning solid products or coals are minimally invasive to the environment and are increasingly used in Polish factories. I am aware that such changes in moving away from coal burning will be long-term and quite expensive. I would like to switch to clean energy now and very intensively. In the end, we have little time left for this type of activity.


In the make me! Competition you won a special prize of PLN 10,000, funded by the Łódź Design Festival. What will you use it for or do you spend it on?

Mateusz: I haven’t started to distribute this amount yet. In fact, it will help me to keep functioning and create my projects. Most of the amount will probably consume ASHka and improve this material anyway..

ASHka – ceramics from ash, design: Mateuszu Mioduszewski / from designer archive

What are your plans for the next, let’s say, five years?

Mateusz: ASHka is a bachelor’s project. Two more years of study are waiting for me. I see that a lot of things are going on very dynamically with me. It is difficult to plan in this mode something that will happen in the long term. I am curious myself what the coming years will bring.


What should young designers pay attention to the most? What kind of advice could you give them?

Mateusz: I don’t know if I should give advice. I am at the beginning of the road related to design. For me it is important to try and not be afraid to act in different planes. As long as we still have the opportunity to create projects “for ourselves”, we should give our best. It may be too late later. We will be burdened with more obligations and structures that we will fall into. You have to be honest with yourself and the recipients. Do what you like and be able to find balance in your private and professional life!


Lastly, we have a kind of a questionnaire prepared for you:


If you could be the designer of any project in the history of mankind, what would it be?


Mateusz: I didn’t think about it. I totally don’t know.


What do you think will be the next breakthrough technological invention that you will live long enough to see? What are you most looking forward to?

Mateusz: I think that in the near future we will use items powered only by electricity. I hope that in the end we will be able to collect energy from nature without additional waste! To finally gather energy from lightning strikes. I look forward to it!


Who is the most important designer these days?

Mateusz: Tough question. We have designers who do great things, but the most famous ones create them nice and unique. I really like that there are many innovative initiatives trying to solve problems on various levels. Rather, they are young designers.


Can you name the most interesting designers in Poland in your opinion?

Mateusz: I really like the work of Maja Ganszyniec, Oskar Zięta and Tomasz Rygalik. But I didn’t surprise anyone 🙂


What should be on the best-designed pizza?

Mateusz: Mushrooms, beetroots and rucola.


What book worth recommending did you read lately?
Mateusz: “Products. Ingenuity around us” Olga Drendy. It’s so from the last read that raises an interesting topic.


Your three favorite TV series are:

Mateusz: I’ve seen them a little bit, currently my 3 favorites are: “Chernobyl”, “Stranger Things” and “Black Mirror”…


Favorite movie scene:

Mateusz: There are so many! Certainly the dance scene and further camera conduct in Gaspar Noah’s Climax.


You have a one way ticket. Where would you go?

Mateusz: South America, I think! Peru would be great, and then on foot across the rest of the continent 😀


The Rolling Stones or The Beatles?


Mateusz: I love both, but I have much more respect for the Beatles!


Rihanna czy Beyonce?


Mateusz: I prefer the question above 😀


Star Wars or Star Trek?


Mateusz: I haven’t watched it and I don’t plan on it yet!


Superman or Batman?


Mateusz: Batman!


Dogs or cats?


Mateusz: Hard! However, dogs 🙂


Thanks for the interesting conversation!


He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, majoring in Industrial Design. In 2018, his work was awarded the main prize in the international Blue Drop competition and awarded at the Graduation Project 2019. Before coming to Silesia, he graduated with honors from the High School of Fine Arts in Supraśl, specialization – woodcarving. He cooperates with professional design offices, cultural institutions and private entities. He specializes in projects in the fields of design, graphics and photography. In addition, he is interested in the art of theater and film, hence the projects and realizations in the field of set design.