Pals looking to ‘blast away misconceptions about Poles’ with their stunning online poster shop

Projekt 26 was founded by friends Sylwia Newman and Harriet Williams, a Polish-British duo who live near each other in south-east London and bonded over their shared love for mid-century Polish art and design. Projekt 26/Facebook

Two friends in London have founded an online shop selling original mid-century Polish posters, offering buyers a burst of colour that will brighten their home or office.  

Projekt 26 was founded by friends Sylwia Newman and Harriet Williams, a Polish-British duo who live near each other in south-east London and bonded over their shared love for mid-century art and design.

The girls say that each poster has “depth and complexity because they reflect the soul of a nation.”Projekt 26

“The more we learnt about this exceptional era of Polish poster art, the more we fell in love; not only with the Polish posters, but with the incredible and iconic artists who created them,” they write on their company’s website.

They add that each poster has “depth and complexity because they reflect the soul of a nation who’d been suffering years of great loss and repression.”

Projekt 26’s website displays a wide range of original vintage posters from Poland, including numerous film posters, carefully photographed by the company itself.

Posting on Facebook the girls wrote: “This is a sneak peek of one by one of our favourite artists - Jan Mlodozeniec. He designed it in his instantly recognisable illustrative style in 1976 for 1973 US sci-fi thriller ‘Westworld’, starring Yul Brynner and James Brolin.”Projekt 26/Facebook

Visitors can search the collection by artist or era, from the 1950s to contemporary ones, among other criteria.

As the girls’ interested in Polish poster art grew, they began to focus in on what is known as the Polish School of Posters, an artistic phenomenon of the Fifties and Sixties that made art critics around the world sit up and take notice that something unique was happening behind the Iron Curtain.

Originating from two poster design departments at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, the movement was led by professors Henryk Tomaszewski and Józef Mroszczak.

The girls are particularly interested in Polish poster art known as the Polish School of Poster, an artistic phenomenon of the Fifties and Sixties.Projekt 26

Sylwia and Harriet say they like “bold, witty and often naively illustrated pieces which have the ability to make us smile.”Projekt 26

Projekt 26’s website displays a wide range of original vintage posters from Poland, including numerous film posters, carefully photographed by the company itself.Projekt 26

They introduced a new method, renouncing the previous canons and foreign influences.

Quoted in It’s Nice That magazine, the girls said: “We’d like to blast away misconceptions about Eastern Europe and Polish people.

“Ultimately we’d like people to find joy in the art. The posters inspire us and we’d like other people to find magic and inspiration from them too."

Sylwia and Harriet said: “The more we learnt about this exceptional era of Polish poster art, the more we fell in love; not only with the Polish posters, but with the incredible and iconic artists who created them.”Projekt 26/Facebook

The posters shown on the website are just part of Projekt 26’s collection.

Potential buyers looking for something else can contact Sylwia and Harriet, who can arrange private viewings at businesses or people’s homes.

As well as offering to recommend posters themselves, the duo also works with interior designers to source the perfect posters for a specific project.

Its Instagram account contains examples of what the posters look like in a home setting after being framed, leaning on a sideboard or handing above a bed.

One of the girls’ favourite posters is this poster for the 1976 film ‘Life in Pictures’.Projekt 26/Facebook

In addition, their website is packed with information for poster-lovers, from background information on Polish poster genres and artists, to tips on framing and caring for vintage posters.

“We are both drawn to a very similar aesthetic which informs our buying choices; bold, witty and often naively illustrated pieces which have the ability to make us smile,” the two women write on their website, adding that they like to sell posters that they would hang on their own walls.