Łukasz Kowalski (PL)
Visual Identity for the Studnia Nadziei Foundation
M.A. project
Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
Profesor Lech Majewski
This design sparked an exceptionally long debate among the jurors, as it raises a crucial design problem – how to build a visual social message about the kind of poverty and misfortune which we ourselves do not know from everyday experience. To the designer’s great credit, we were far from indifferent to his MA project, and the subject of giving Africans access to drinking water was central to the discussion for some time. It was mainly the formal assets of the work that stood out. We might say that we let ourselves be seduced by some fantastic‑looking posters. Łukasz Kowalski managed to avoid playing on the viewer’s emotions or using journalist photography to spark our compassion and shock us – this is our first thought. At this point you are surely wondering what raised the controversy. Doubts appeared over whether what attracts the eye might not hamper a campaign that seeks to effectively solve a problem and change viewers’ attitudes. Do these posters not aestheticize the evil with their allusions to African folk culture? Do we not see these real problems from the perspective of a tourist? Aren’t we invited, with a sense of relief, to contemplate the formal merits of the works instead of reflecting upon the injustice of Africans’ limited access to water and personal hygiene? And given their unquestionable skill in rendering, do we dare call this situation shameful? But this question is not only aimed at the designer…