Fresh, Young and High Caliber

When you celebrate your second birthday, and you’ve become somewhat relevant, that could either mean that it was high time you made your debut or that you’ve presented yet another way of spending leisure time. D-Day is more than a mere necessity, for now it’s the only possibility offered to Croatian and regional design production to present themselves and attempt to achieve the illusion of a market. The thirty-hour-long mingling with over a hundred and fifty designers – presenters at the unpretentious premises in and around the Old Slaughterhouse in Heinzl Street, was a vehement, positive and quality way to spend the June. Without adequate support from state institutions in whose interest it should be to create and establish a competitive Croatian design product, what’s left is excellent energy tied to the key ingredients of innovativeness and creativity, while unfortunately, a somewhat vague sense of purpose is present – does this way of presenting oneself carry any real possibilities for realizing business offers and collaborations? Maybe that’s somewhat conditioned by the presenters’ age limit (35), where a dose of casualness is the main feature, attracting a clearly defined type of audience.

Still, D-Day stands out from the exceptionally widespread and super-popular manufacturing fairs, but they can’t (and don’t have to) have any particular socially useful meaning. The formula produced by the CDS, The School of Design and Pepermint is exceptionally simple – fresh, young and high-caliber minds, each and every one of them having at least one international award or recognition, present themselves at the D-Fair with their own booths thus combining a representative approach with finely elaborated stories and creative tactics.

Young designer Ana Tevšić, must certainly be singled out, as she’s the only Croatian to have presented herself at the London Clerkenwell Design Week. Twisted lamps and Crooked chairs made from a piece of lacquered mediapan embody the philosophy of maximum execution economy not creating any kind of waste during the production process. Excellent Sarajevo designer Amila Hrustić questions the relationship between the human body and geometry, as a case study of perception and contrast, as well as studies between the organic and artificial, while Vedrana Mastela introduced the concept of destruction as a creative act in fashion design.

Team Kancelarija, in their recognizable style of toying with conventions and inversion; went off in the direction of “redesigning” beer, moving the margins between “work” and fun. However, the most coherent and by far the most well-thought-out concept was presented through the project/workshop Extra/ordinary design by URIHO, The Association for Promoting Inclusion and The School of Design, the CDS in collaboration with the Royal College of Art. The workshop from the field of industrial design, textile design and visual communications design strived towards employing methods of inclusive design by which different aspects of interaction with the environment come into view and emphasis is put on various new approachs to designing and projects. The project was recognized and awarded by the expert panel of judges consisting of Zoran Jedrejčić, Chris Kabel and Maroje Mrduljaš.

The D-market was envisioned as the sales part of the Fair where some twenty Croatian designer brands presented themselves – Lega- Lega, ROBA, Prostor, BOONIKA, Modus, KRPA… However, even though their function was to “professionally reflect the D-Fair in today’s design production”, the result was slightly disappointing – from hiding too-high production prices, to not all that innovative presentation of booths. Market-wise, the Osijek office for graphic shaping Lega-Lega revealed themselves as the most elaborated team, setting at the center a recognizable visual identity and “numerous things that we don’t actually need, but are so irresistibly designed.” What more could one ask for…

As Belgrade a few years ago made its mark as the leading place in the region for design promotion, with its Design Week and Mikser Festival, regional collaboration was part of D-Day’s concept. The exhibition part, comprised of the Belgrade super-project Mikser included their idea Young Balkan Designers and the Kafana- a project that gathered design students from the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts. The students provided their vision of new recycling.

And last but not least, Croatian Designers Impact, the Croatian producteers who presented themselves at this year’s Milan Salon. They are the unquestionable present, displaying the factual state of Croatian design. Together with the other exhibitioners, they should also serve as both the future and history for remembrance, but if a strategic plan is not put in motion for their realization within the industry, along with market acceptance, they will become the dead end of Croatian creativity and economy. Design as intellectual activity that produces material artifacts which in turn changes the status quo (towards a better, simpler society), generally does not stray far from the laboratory-scientific approach in patenting medication. Design that is comprehended in society as such should be the core of its advancement, as well as the very essence of economic theories. We forgive D-Day for any possible starters’ mistakes, while at the same time calling out its organizers to task as it’s necessary to develop a strategic plan to seriously start promoting design.

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