“Young, charming and gorgeous,” are but a few attributes being used by various media outlets to describe designer Ana Tevšić.
However, it should be duly noted that Ana is, first and foremost, a high-quality and go-getter designer, who doesn’t let life pass her by.
Only 25 years old, Ana has already twice presented her recognizable lamps, chairs and lively-colored shelves in London, published editorials in numerous magazines and foreign design blogs as well as participated in D Day and Re:Pair.
Still, Ana decide to step into the product design sphere all by herself and with utmost confidence to boot. For now, she’s enjoying many a success in her chosen field. Ana has just returned from London where she participated in the London Design Festival’s official program as the sole Croatian representative. We had a chat with Ana yesterday about her point of view and thoughts on design, London, plans for the future… Take a look at what she had to say:
How was London – what did you present there, and how did this collaboration come about?
The organizers of Designersblock, which is held within the framework of the London Design Festival, found me in Clerkenwell, where a colleague who had previously worked for them brought them.
This time, the exhibition was taking place at an old huge factory, and there were many more exhibitors. On my stand, actually, in one of the rooms, I was presenting lamps, stools, and hangers; and it was great! It was much more “business-like” than Clerkenwell – architects and designers came, as well as buyers. This time round, everybody was giving me their business cards, whereas at the first exhibition, I had been the one handing out my business cards to others. I was also better prepared in terms of promotional material, among other things; I had also made badges, which I was then seeing everywhere across the city during the festival – it made me indescribably happy!
How did your first trip to London come about?
The first collaboration happened by an incredible stroke of luck. The organizers were given my portfolio by their media partners who had had it for a few years, and had gotten it in the period when I was sending it left, right, and center, but didn’t really have anything that had been exhibited to show – seeing as at the time, I was still studying at university. They contacted me to see if I had anything new, so I sent them the stools and the lamps, after which was informed I had passed the selection!
What is the difference between Clerkenwell Design Week and The London Design Festival?
The London Design Festival is business-oriented, and The Designersblock Exhibition was just one of the many events happening across the city, which meant that people were coming to see it specifically. On the other hand, Clerkenwell Design Week was taking place in the Clerkenwell neighborhood only, which created a different, special atmosphere seeing as all the events were held in one place. However, both exhibitions have left me with new experiences, and each exhibition is special in its own way.
Could you give some main characteristics of the London design shows, and also maybe some characteristics of the “London design” – in what way(s), if any, is the idea – realization there better/similar/worse than the one here?
There, everything goes! Not in the sense that there is no selection, but in the sense that people are somehow more open to accept completely different ideas and interpretations by designers. Everyone has a chance for presentation, every idea can be presented; there isn’t so much negative criticism. They like diversity and there you really don’t feel like an outsider. Of course, the important thing is to have an interesting idea. Furthermore, there’s much more mutual support at the shows abroad, the exhibitors cover for each other and exchange ideas. Also, they have much better conditions for production, which is also a mitigating circumstance.
Are there scouts for young designers in London? Do you see your career abroad maybe?
A number of them came from their shops, department stores, that are looking for limited edition works. And as luck would have it, their theme was precisely metal, and that’s why they liked the lamps. I was also surprised to realize that a lot of people had seen my work in Elle Decoration, and then decided to come and see it “live”. That was actually a feedback that told me how many people had seen that piece in the magazine. As far as moving abroad goes, I would gladly go to London right now – but, all in due time! Right now, I need to concentrate on my work, and then we’ll see what happens.
*Metalni lusteri ‘Twister’
You’ve been mentioned in every possible magazine: Elle Decoration UK, Cosmopolitan, Jutarnji List… It must be big publicity. How important are self-promotion and Facebook as a promotion tool for young designers nowadays?
The British Elle Decoration has offered me a presentation after summer, after Clerkenwell that is, and so I’ve left all of my works in London because of the shooting I’m absolutely thrilled about. Undoubtedly, the media exposure means publicity, but what is also important is that the media seems to be showing increasing interest in culture, in general; which consequently means letting the public know that we – young designers, artists, architects – also exist as an integral part of that culture. Facebook is also a rather successful way of promotion, I’ve been a part of it only since spring, and some offers have come about precisely thanks to Facebook.
Do you think it is possible for a young designer to succeed without big media attention?
Call me an idealist, but I still believe that only work can bring success, and that all the rest is just an additional benefit. Media exposure is important in the sense that, first of all, people within the profession that follow the relevant media information, find out about your works. And then, also of course, all those people that are not in this line of work, but are interested in something like this; and this is the only way they have to see the works.
What do you make of School of Design as a platform that educates young product designers for life in a country where there are no factories, no tradition, and no public awareness about product design?
There is chronic depravation of knowledge about materials at our school (university), we don’t really have the best machines and we can’t really know how something will turn out, unless we finance the production of the prototypes ourselves; whereas in London it is all a lot simpler. Nevertheless, the professors are doing what they can to organize various events for our promotion, although, unfortunately, it usually stays just within our small circle. Our products are expensive because such a production is expensive; which means we all desperately need good craftsmen to transform our ideas into reality. There are no factories we could work together with, thus making the production process cheaper and faster. I hope that will change soon, and that we (designers, architects) will influence the market to focus more on our projects. As essentially, it all comes down to the principle of supply and demand.
*Polica za odjeću ‘Chew on this’
Can you compare your situation to that of your colleagues, graphic artists?
Graphic artists are in an easier situation in the sense that there is a big demand for them within the very prolific advertising and marketing industry, which consequently, makes it easier for them to find work, and collect from it. That, of course, does not mean that work just falls into their laps, or that they don’t have to prove themselves. I just think it is easier for them in that they’re already in demand on our marketing-oriented market, whereas the manufacturers here are still neither aware of product design, nor oriented on it. We are left with no other choice but to create our own work, often abroad. It’s really a shame, both for us and our country that doesn’t understand that this makes us less competitive on a foreign market, but at the same time, also on the domestic one.
You have taken part in design “shows” here – D-Day, Re:Pair… How much are events like these still profession related, and do they result in actual offers from investors in Croatia afterwards?
There are no actual offers really; people that are here are mostly our university colleagues; it’s great fun, but nothing happens afterwards. The problem is that, usually, it all comes down to us coming to these exhibitions to see ourselves – profession related. D-Day is really a great idea; the location and the concept of the exhibition are really interesting. Re:Pair was interesting because it invited people not related to our profession, and that was an excellent interaction. They should be continuing that project soon, and it is something that should absolutely be supported because it is definitely a commendable project. Furthermore, both projects are trying to bring product design closer to the average person, and to familiarize the public with what we do; which I think is a very important aspect because it is precisely their lives that we want to become a part of. I am glad to have had the opportunity to take part in both projects.
*Polica za odjeću i suvenir bedževi ‘Chew on this’
Can you explain the concepts behind your most known works: Twister Lamps, Crooked Stools and Chew On This Hanger?
All of my works are essentially something that I would like to have in my own apartment as well. The ‘Crooked’ Stools have been designed with the intention of making a piece of furniture for whose production not a single piece of material will have to be thrown out, not even a millimeter. The process of calculating the dimensions that would ensure that has been rather long, but successful – I’ve managed to calculate how to get 7 upper plates, 56 legs, and 28 barriers; and not have even a millimeter of wasted material in the process. The ‘Twister’ Lamps idea originated from a whirligig which spins around its own axis; the idea was to create the impression of movement in objects that are otherwise seen as static. And ‘Chew On This‘ is a hanger originally intended for those of us that don’t put our clothes back in the closet, but usually have it scattered all over the apartment. I should point out that the hanger has been created in collaboration with Goran Turković.
Product design is often associated with the problem of originality, and maybe someone might notice that your stool is reminiscent of the Twist Table of the Numen/ForUse designers?
Yes, that is one of the issues associated with the problem of modern design – it is very difficult to create something that has not already been seen, because there’s always room for citations, models, homage. To be honest, I saw their design only after mine! And, it is important to point out that, although there is certain resemblance, their table is of a more elongated shape and more elegant; whereas the form of my design has been influenced primarily by the desire of not having any excess material. I also assume that the concepts behind our products have nothing in common, which also means that the process of designing itself is surely different.
*Atmosfera s susjednih izložbi na Designersblocku
Are you familiar with The Rijeka Bench Competition, how do you like the winning creation, and what are your thoughts on the negative comments?
I find the winning creation witty and daring, I like it! But, what I find hard to believe is the amount of negative comments I’ve read, as well the fact that people don’t seem to understand how rare it is to actually have something happening here. It seems as though all they care about is how to criticize someone. Constructive criticism is, of course, always welcome; but instead of supporting each other, and applauding each other’s success; some of us, unfortunately, react in such a negative way for all the wrong reasons. I am truly sorry about that, I hope that someday people will finally start to support young people who are doing something creative. I support both the competition and the winning creation; after all, colleagues should be supportive of other colleagues and not be considered a threat.
What are your plans for the future, Milan perhaps, some now projects – what are your hopes?
Plans are still just plans, and until I am sure that everything has worked out, I wouldn’t like to jump the gun. In the last six months a lot of great opportunities have happened, and I wouldn’t want to jinx the future! In any case, I am looking forward to new projects and hoping for new exhibitions.
S Anom su razgovarali Petra Tomljanović i Ivan Dorotić
Fotografije: Ivan Dorotić i privatni album dizajnerice
Anine radove pogledajte ovdje