The first thing I learn about Lodz is that you have to pronounce it WOOCH. It’s my guide who gives me the news as soon as I step out of the plane – with the fresh face you get after a wake up call at 5 + a bus + a two hour flight.
From Warsaw airport we jump on a car to reach Lodz, the new creative and artistic pole of Poland. It is the ideal destination for my lifestyle and design itinerary. I’ve been chosen together with other 4 bloggers to take part into a journey to discover of Poland. Each one of us has a different themed itinerary: food, youth, nature, culture and mine, lifestyle and design.
While I write I am sitting at a table of a trendy restaurant in the supercool OFF Piotrkowska, one of the many former textile factories of Lodz that have been restored and renewed, used as a space for shops, restaurants and work space for artists and creative people.
I am utterly fascinated by the way this city is renewing its industrial past. All these buildings are just amazing, I love the shape, the colors, and the huge windows that let splashes of sun inside the big dark rooms where once the sewing or cutting machines were.
Lodz was born as a little village in the Middle Age (15th century) and it stayed as a village for a long time. During 18th-19th Century it was mainly owned and ruled by Priests, then it fell under the Prussian domination. In order to become independent, Lodz started to pursue an economic system strictly bond to industrialism, therefore the village became a city built up around factories. Most of the buildings were once, in fact, workers houses. At that time Polish, Germans, Jews, and Russian all lived peacefully together for the sake of business. Gescheft – trade – was the key word. Then the two World Wars came, and we all know what happened. After Poland fell under German control and the Holocaust started, a big part of the population was killed or sent to the Concentration Camps. The city still bears traces of this horrible past, not only in the Ghetto but all around town.
After this tragic times, for years Lodz was stuck both from a cultural and an architectural point of view until, recently, the many beautiful 1900s factories started living a second life. It all started 8 years ago with Manufaktura, formerly the most important and biggest textile factory in the city. Today it is a recreation centre with a shopping mall, cinemas, bars and restaurants, a pool, a gym, a museum and much more.
Visiting Manufaktura Museum I also discovered something more about the past of the factory and about the terrible working conditions of the employees. 15 hours a day in a room full of highly polluting, highly noisy machines. Workers died as ‘part of the job’, there was so little care to their health conditions and to the safety of the working place.
OFF Piotrowska followed the same path but it was a smaller factory and today is an artists and designer hangout with lots of trendy restaurants and shops. Today, thanks to the quintessentially hipster Kamil Wasiak, young director of OFF Piotrkowska, I explored the many floors of the building, used as showroom or work space from young artists and designers such as the print brand Minimalling, Mokave jewels, ceramics by Indygo, Rowk clothes and home accessories Flokett and Rabose.
During the day I had some time to walk along Piotrkowska, full of shops and palaces – here every factory owner had his own palace in the city center or near his factory.
I loved the little yards hidden on the side of the main street, with little shops and bistrots like the one where we had lunch, Zaraz Wracam (be right back). Isn’t the Chlodnik soup pretty? The main ingredient is the red beetroot and other veggies, in a sour cream soup. Just delicious.
And here I am, ready for another day of adventures in Poland. But, for now, let me enjoy this chilled glass of white wine, the bulbs hanging from this restaurant’s windows, my food and my night of freedom. Yes, I am all alone here and I am SO enjoying it.
All photos above have been shot with the Samsung Galaxy NX30, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics C. Ltd