The Impact of Croatian Design

The Introduction of the Croatian Designers’ Impact exhibition booklet (which we covered here), states itself that facts and reality are somewhat contrary, one could even say bizarre, so despite Croatian production and industry being at an all-time low, Croatian product design has never been livelier.

This fact had to be elaborated by the Croatian designers’ presentation at the Posti di Vista exhibition held at the Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan, which opened last week during the Milan Design Week Salone de Mobile, which we featured here. A set-up under the name of Sensibile Design is but one of the many exhibition events held within the broader area of Milan’s center for the duration of the Salone, gathering myriad creative, experimental and, to an extent, innovative ideas of unconventional design.

We described the full extent and importance of last week’s design happenings in Milan here, thus it’s unnecessary to reiterate the fact that this was an exceptionally significant opportunity for Croatian product design to present itself to a broader European and world public. Even though this exhibition by Croatian designers didn’t reach an astounding number of people sauntering through the Salone’s official location, we’re sure that the program at the Fabbrica was one of the most important events of the Fuori Salone, i.e. the program held outside the Salone’s official locations which proved highly popular and was brimming with visitors.

Twelve Croatian (both male and female) designers and design teams exhibited one or more of their products, gathering under the courageous and compelling syntagm “Croatian Designers’ Impact.”

As we had the chance to see, the exhibition’s opening captured the visitors’ attention from the start, so the Croatian design zone at the Fabbrica was buzzing with people even after shots of welcoming “rakija” (a famous Croatian brandy) had been drunk up.

The following designers presented their products: Atmosfera (Davor & Bernarda Silov), Roberta Bratović, Nina Bačun & Tomislav Mostečak, Svjetlana Despot, ForUse / Numen, Filip Gordon Frank, Grupa (Filip Despot, Tihana Gotovuša and Ivana Pavić), Ksenija Jurinec, Ljiljana Kolundžić, Redesign (Neven and Sanja Kovačić), Maja Mesić, Simon Morasi Piperčić and Antonio Šunjerga.

Click here for more information, textual and visual descriptions about certain products and designers.

Everything displayed and presented at the “Croatian Designers’ Impact” will leave the uninformed visitor in two minds whether Croatia is actually Denmark, i.e. why isn’t there more of Croatian design and why isn’t it present at the Salone’s main locations. Should a visitor happen to investigate, they’ll most certainly end up marveling over the fact that almost each and every designer makes their respective designs by themselves.

It’s a well-known fact that product design in Croatia currently exists without any significant government strategy and production that could keep up with the rhythm of talent, ideas and concepts that production and promotion deserve. However, the visitors of the Milan exhibitions are (fortunately?) blissfully unaware of the real state of affairs in Croatia.

Within the hundred or so square meter area of the Milan Fabbrica del Vappore, visitors of the CDI exhibition had the chance to see, touch and “use” tables, chairs, shelves, pillows, lamps and other products by Croatian designers. It’s a given that the level of innovativeness, originality and quality of production varied from product to product and that maybe a part of the exhibits went completely unnoticed within the week where only the best was noted and remembered. But one should be optimistic and trust that the Milan exhibition will make it possible for Ksenija Jurinec’s cloud-chandeliers, Studio Atmosfera’s modular Boomerang system, or the Grupa’s lamps and hangers to get media (and production) attention beyond Croatia’s borders.

The Croatian public had a chance to view a large part of the exhibits at last year’s reAktor, while the team behind the project that gathers Croatian domestic product designs has announced a near approaching new edition of the reAktor at the MSU, set up as a sales exhibition.

Likewise, it’s important to note that the exhibits at the CDI, aside from a few young artists’ design solutions presented at the Salone Satellite (more on that exhibition shortly), those were the sole exhibits representing Croatia and Croatian product design in Milan. Aware of that hard fact, we can only hope that these types of exhibitions and initiatives, accompanied by full-on media attention, via sharing, liking and tweeting, will result with an even longer list of designers exhibiting at even more Milan locations in the future, but also a longer list of institutions and sponsors endorsing such projects, so that Croatian product design receives both due attention and all the necessary realization requirements it deserves.

The ever-present Croatian envy towards any kind of success, justified criticism, or just plain curiosity, brought the selection process for exhibiting at an exhibition with such a pompous name under scrutiny within Zagreb professional circles. If anyone knows of someone even better and can back up their claims that there are Croatian “producters” out there who can offer even more impressive design works that those presented at the Croatian Designers’ Impact, then there’s no reason to harbor any kind of doubt in regard to the Croatian product designs’ future (and) success.

Time will reveal the true impact of Croatian designers’ Milan coup.