Dressing the Home for the Seasons

A kilim with 12 phenological seasons of the year by Alicja Bielawska. Woven by "Koronka-Bobowa” Cooperative of Work on Folk and Artistic Handicraft (Agata Król, Danuta Myśliwiec), embroidery by Jadwiga Śliwa.


July, 2021

One of the key design priorities for interiors emerging from the pandemic is flexibility. This idea has been explored by the Warsaw-based architecture studio Centrala in their research project 'The Clothed Home: tuning into the seasonal imagination' in the Polish Pavilion at the London Design Biennale. To find ways of reintegrating seasonal change into our domestic lives, Centrala have looked to historic ways of using textiles and fabric to ‘dress’ the home, adapting spaces for the annual cycles of climate and daylight hours without relying on energy-intensive central heating and air conditioning.

Through re-discovering a lost nomenclature of textile forms and looking to lost traditions from grand palaces to humble vernaculars, Centrala and the artist Alicja Bielawska propose a return to the use of interior textiles as a form of soft architecture that ritually changes with the natural seasons. Using a seasonal colour wheel – warm colours for winter through to cool colours for summer – Bielawska designed modern interpretations of the historic examples, each coloured according to season in order to enhance the desired thermal function of the textile piece.

Willibald Richter, Bedroom in Pod Baranami Palace in Krakow, 1827, drawing. Collection of the Jagiellonian Library, Krakow, public domain. Coloured by Małgorzata Kuciewicz and Simone De Iacobis.

A Baldachim canopy shades a bed, creating darkness for sleepers inside while others in the room can get on with their activity in daylight.

Dzieduszycki Palace and Park Complex in Zarzecze, photos taken between 1918 and 1939 (detail). National Digital Archives, Warsaw, inv. no. 3/1/0/9/8149, public domain.

A Podpinka, or banner hung from the ceiling, lowers the height of the room for the duration of winter, preventing heating escaping upwards and reducing the volume of the room to be heated.

Living room designed by Jerzy Hryniewiecki and Wiesław Lisowski, Polish Pavilion in Paris, 1937. National Digital Archives, Warsaw, inv. no. 3/1/0/5/652/65, public domain

Narzuta covers furniture and floor at the same time, protecting seated ankles from draughts.

Zofia Rydet, Sociological Record 1978–1990, region: Chochołów, 1982, black and white film 24 x 35 mm, inv. no. zr_02_013_26 (C) 2068/12/31 Zofia Augustyńska-Martyniak. Photo provided under the terms of the CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL license

For the summer months, a Muchołap fringes a door with ribbon-like strips of fabric that provide privacy to open doors and protection from insects.


All drawings by Alicja Bielawska, for 'The Clothed Home', coloured pencil and pencil on paper, 2020–21.