Kraków Glassworks

Buildings of Kraków Glassworks, Lipowa street no. 3 in Kraków, 1960s, photo: collections of the Glass and Ceramics Centre (Ł-ICiMB in Kraków).

In 1931, the L. Bąkowski, D. Chazan and Co. Kraków Glassworks was created at 3, Lipowa Street, the former site of the “Znicz” match factory. Qualified workers arrived in Kraków, mainly from Narewka and Białystok, where the company’s co-founders, Dawid Chazan and Leon Bąkowski possessed two other smaller glassworks. The glassworks on Lipowa was involved in the production of bottles (for wine and mineral waters) and pharmacy glass, employing from 300 to 500 people depending on the number of orders from the State Spirits Monopoly.

In 1940, during the Second World War, the Kraków Glassworks was confiscated by the Germans. The property was managed until May 1943 by the Treuhand Verwertung G.m.b.H., when the lots and buildings were sold to the General Directorate of Monopolies (Generaldirektion der Monopole).

At the beginning of 1953, the glassworks passed into the hands of the governing body of the Glass Industry Union, which created a new entity – the Kraków Glassworks, which also encompassed the Glassworks in Skawina and Wawel Glassworks on Zabłocie Street.

In 1962, the Kraków Glassworks became the seat of the glass industry’s scientific research centre. Nine years later, the seat was combined with the glassworks, creating a research centre possessing significant production capabilities.

In 1969, the Industrial Design Plant was created at Lipowa 3 under the supervision of Jerzy Słuczan-Orkusz, one of the pioneers of industrial design in Poland. The Factory was engaged in the design of artistic glass pieces – including vases, chalices, goblets, amphorae, dishes, candlesticks and mugs – which alluded to historical forms through the use of elements such as ornate heat-fused handles and fancy lace designs and handgrips. The ideas of the designers: Michał Jakubas, Zofia Pasek, Marian Gołogórski, Barbara Świstacka, Monika Orkusz, and of course Jerzy Słuczan-Orkusz, were implemented using traditional glass tools by highly qualified glassworkers from the Experimental Plant.

Beautiful original hand-moulded products from Lipowa, still being signed today with the recognisable image of a dragon blowing a glass bubble, quickly became popular in Poland and abroad. In Kraków, they could be purchased at the firm’s showroom at the Mariacki Square and the Desa galleries. At Lipowa 3, it was possible to visit the Industrial Design Plant, which gathered together a collection of forms produced at the Institute. Kraków artistic glass was also presented abroad, at the Polish Culture Information Centres in Germany, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, the republics of the Soviet Union and Hungary.

Apart from producing glassware, architectural glass was manufactured, which was used in the internal décor of such buildings as the Polonez Hotel in Poznań, Forum Hotel in Kraków, People’s Republic of Poland Embassy in Geneva or the Council of Ministers’ Recreation Centre in Zakopane.

From 1972, the Kraków centre became a branch of Warsaw’s Glass Institute. The 70s marked the branch’s greatest period of prosperity, when almost 500 people were employed at Lipowa 3. From 1 January 2010, the branch was combined with another Kraków scientific research unit – the Institute of Mineral Building Materials.

Currently, the Glass and Building Materials Department of the Ceramics and Building Materials Institute conducts a wide range of glass research, including windshield certification tests and the production of ceramic frits and glazes, whitewashes, engobes and enamels.

Designers associated with the glassworks: Jerzy Słuczan-Orkusz, Michał Jakubas, Zofia Pasek, Marian Gołogórski, Barbara Świstacka, Monika Orkusz, Piotr Kozłowski, Ryszard Serwicki

Read more: History of the Lipowa 3 Glass and Ceramics Centre