The Artisan's cargo bike designed to bring traditional handicrafts out into the open, Source: StudioJOT/ Praga360

The Artisan Bike: Warsaw's attempt to keep traditional handcrafts rolling

The Artisan Bike: Warsaw's attempt to keep traditional handcrafts rolling

A story that brings into light another usage for bicycles

In an age when technology is rapidly storming into and transforming our lives, there are only a few who remember to bring some of the past along with us – to keep us grounded. In that vein, is the Warsaw City Hall financed project Rower Rzemieślniczy (or Artisan’s Bike), which seeks and encourages artisans working with disappearing trades to bring them out in the open with the help of bicycles.

The campaign departs from the concept that if something is not actively promoted, or indeed visible, it is doomed to fall into obscurity and disappear. Traditional Warsaw craftsmen who are in need of help can apply for a free bike rental through the project.

The initiative also has among its objectives the revitalization of the Praga district – a traditionally working-class quarter, which recently started acquiring a more bohemian feel due to the students moving in drawn by the cheaper rents.

Remote work, or an office on three wheels

The authors of the project are Józefina Jarmużewska and Jacob Dammas, a Polish-Danish duo that creates cultural projects and documentaries in Copenhagen and Warsaw. In the Polish capital, they run the Praga360 association and the creative company StudioJOT.

"The idea was born at the beginning of 2016 when we helped the master confectioner Krzysztof Sierski in the promotion of his workshop, the history of which dates back to 1971. He learned from pre-war experts, then continued and developed these unique recipes for delicious confectionery. In recent years, however, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain manual production, especially in a location which fewer and fewer people reach,” explains Józefina Jarmużewska.

"So, we came up with a concept for a mobile bicycle stand so that Mr Krzysztof and other traditional craftsmen could meet people on the street, bazaar, festivities and talk about the history of their studios, and at the same time present and sell their products and services.”

The association helped the artisan by creating a specialized cargo tricycle, complete with a box, a canopy and interchangeable plates. It was made jointly with activists in Warsaw's Praga district and consists of parts from local factories.

The movable bike shop gives Mr Sierski the possibility to attend various cultural events popping up in the district’s agenda, rather than passively waiting to be discovered. If the old adage claims that a successful business is all about “location, location, location” – then this has been effectively achieved.



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