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Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re Open !
An assemblage of 100% fresh Slovenian design.
Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re Open !
We're Open! Jeff Bickert Editor
We’re Open! is full of contrasts and contradistinctions: it’s design that floats and anchors, is complex and pragmatic, sensible and silly, seriously playful, high–tech and all–natural, loud and proud yet soft & subtle. It’s a nod to the past and the future both – a kind of retro–futuro designscape – which locates it in the very contemporary present. Which could be interpreted as a respectful, admiring nod to our predecessors and our rich design tradition; a kind of celebration of their passion for colour and contrast, geometry and modularity. Local/regional folklore and handicraft inform and inspire hand–woven kilims, wooden kitchen utensils, architecture–adorned ceramics, even playful pet furniture. Looking forward, we see 3D–printed wood & plastic composite lamps, illuminated clouds made from repurposed airbags, thinly–sliced LED lamps and lighting schemes tapping into sophisticated, super–light carbon technologies.
We're Open! is dedicated to showcasing an assemblage of some of the freshest, smartest designs coming out of Slovenia today, many of which are fashioned exclusively from quality local ingredients. It’s design to enjoy, design to live by… design to buy for. The collection is both a representative and relevant sampling, and serves to underline a particular approach to cooperation and development between designers, manufacturers and companies. Some are already nationally established, but in many cases their brands and companies are still emerging on the larger international stage. The exhibition includes many products that have not yet been shown in Milan, London or other larger design event–venues – designs that are innovative, display strong individual qualities, and communicate a certain animated spirit of both time and place. Because it is of place, it comes from somewhere. Which is why we chose to collage the designs/products against local backgrounds, Slovene all, and typical rather than idyllic. They are both compelling and everyday, exotic and banal, confident and unapologetic. Because design, together with production, doesn’t happen by chance. Design isn't random, is not a series of arbitrary instances but a result of the confluence of a vast array of inputs – all of which are intricately connected to place. And the place of We’re Open is the territory of Slovenia, with a healthy helping of local regionalism stirred into the mix. In terms of presentation, We’re Open! draws inspiration from the language and culture of sales and marketing, advertising,
consumerism, shops and shopping, co–working and collaboration; and from the overriding attitude behind the larger design and production efforts represented here. And design exhibitions, fairs and related events are intended as launch platforms – for designs, designers and producers to be seen, share, network, connect and transact. Any number of designers exhibiting here have been noticed if not picked up expressly at such events. So, we’re open – 100% – to a wide range of inputs, approaches, traditions and sensibilities. Similarly, the design productions here are not closed but open to development, interpretation and variation, they’re meant to be used, configured, circulated and reconfigured. As a result, this language – both verbal and visual – gives rise to something of a different brand of expression, one that departs a little from the standard design–speak, to allow for descriptives like fun, compelling, exciting, curious, rich, romantic, floating, hovering, suspended, transformative, silly and more. Similarly, we employ visuals intended to highlight and often exaggerate a design’s particular qualities and character; here we’re less interested in faithful representation (obviously) than we are in the interpretive, the positive and the fanciful. Slovenian design today is growing and evolving to bridge, to fill the gap between larger–scale industrial design production and individual, solo designers and small studios. This collection of designs and designers serves to bring currents and developments like this to the fore. It’s about designers bringing designs to life, from explorative handmade prototypes to established series production. And this is just what the organising Centre for Creativity is all about:
connecting designers, manufacturers, producers, companies and institutions and – best–case scenario – clients. Ultimately, perhaps the overriding characteristic attribute of the designs presented herein – and prevailing among a large part of contemporary design coming out of Slovenia – is a certain positivism, a genuine sense of creative optimism. How else are we to read future–driven carbon lights, touch–control lamps with no moving parts, soft–glow eclipses, indeed all of the lighting designs here, together with floating sofas and felt chairs crafted from waste plastic bottles? And colours, both vibrant and subdued, in an array of variations – crayon–coloured lamp cables, richly–glazed ceramic wine racks and soft pastel umbrella stands, and evocative, contemporary kilims and fluorescent canopied community tables. Then there’s optimism’s close cousin, humour, as in kitchen towels and boxers shorts adorned with purple hippos and orange lobsters, self–cleaning pet shelves and an armchair that call itself “Lucky”.
Collaboration as Dynamic Driver
Mika Cimolini Head of Programme, Centre for Creativity
The Centre for Creativity (CfC) is a Slovenian national platform for collaboration, promotion, support and development of the cultural and creative sector (CCS). Its aim is to facilitate the empowerment of the full potential of the creative sector's social and economic value, and to create stronger ties with business, science, education and other key sectors. The project is run by the Museum of Architecture and Design and serves to establish an important part of a supportive environment for innovation in Slovenia. The Centre for Creativity operates in the domains of architecture, design and visual arts, cultural heritage, archives and libraries, books, education in arts and culture, advertising, music, intermedia art, media, radio and television, software and games, the film and audio–visual industry, cultural tourism and other forms of artistic creativity. Under the title We’re Open!, CfC showcases a collection of furniture and homeware produced in recent years. Here we spotlight the stories behind the products, the creators and related manufacturers. We set out to focus on presenting recent furniture production conceived by Slovenian designers and produced by independent manufacturers, artisans and craftsmen, and the brands created by designers themselves. Because they are the ones who fill the gap between small–scale handicraft and large– scale industrial production. And we were looking for products that are fresh, forward–looking and innovative. As a result, we present characteristically Slovenian, small– scale artisanal production that still relies on manual labour and is only partly automated. Today, craftsmen in collaboration with
creatives serve as agents or drivers of social and technological development. Many manufacturers have come to recognize the added value that designers bring to traditional products – and were instrumental in creating the exceptional stories that we are presenting. Many designers, architects and artists on the other hand have created their own (furniture and other) brands that boast a strong sense of design identity and are locally produced. Today, small–scale production – craft or otherwise – stands for much more than a handmade ceramic cup or a hand– embroidered fabric. Re–establishing a sustainable social model where work relates to everyday life allows us to step back from the mass consumerism that has proved to be both socially and environmentally devastating. Hand in hand with technological perfection and exacting design, handicraft brings something else to the equation – the development of skills, a desire for well–crafted products, and the need for continued involvement in the production process; William Morris’s idea of “handicraft” as work without any division of labour, rather than work without any sort of machinery. With the exhibition presentations we spread the word about a small cross–section of products that have been recognised as quality Slovenian design. We unabashedly advocate the sustainable design principles to which we are bound and committed, and work to encourage greater collaboration between the creative and commercial sectors, with a view to facilitating social progress and the development of new products and services, all the while with a view to raising awareness of smart and engaging Slovenian brands.
Beyond Industry Production as Agent of Change
Maja Vardjan Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Architecture and Design
Contemporary design is defined by a multitude of actors and approaches. As ambiguous as this may sound one thing is certain: today, when we are confronted with the very substantial damage that the mad cycle of consumerism has inflicted – and continues to inflict – on our environment, design can no longer serve as a source or means of endless consumption and economic growth. The global environmental problems we face today demand immediate change; and signal an urgent call for a different type of designer – one that acts to challenge and change the existing models of production, as well as the mentality of consumers and producers alike. Today, a substantial number of new generation designers are developing projects around social, critical, radical and/or conceptual design inputs that question the existing situation and strive to develop alternatives to the prevailing system, indeed to everyday life as we know and live it. The exhibition project We’re Open! curated by Mika Cimollini and edited by Jeff Bickert presents another design position that seeks out alternatives within the tangible domain of product design solutions. The products presented herein have been conceived and developed through an assessment of the local conditions, particularly in relation to the means of production. If we are to understand the various current approaches applied in Slovenian design today, we should first outline the still lingering experience of socialism, where design was treated as a means to construct a new and better world for everyone through the state–supported apparatus of mass industrial production.
The period of transition towards a marketâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;oriented economic and social system brought with it a series of ordeals that, compounded by the economic crises, led to the dissolution of the majority of vital industries in Slovenia. The new, very changed situation required, necessitated a massive restructuring of the entire field of design, which consisted in part with the establishing of new relations and networks based on independent and smaller scale productions. These agile, flexible and often niche formations, consisting of designers and producers alike, further developed as key actors in the contemporary Slovenian designscape. From a conceptual point of view, few common features characterise and link the selection of objects presented as part of Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re Open! It goes without saying that the chosen designers are (well) aware of the prevailing market apparatus; but instead of quick and cheap interventions, their products advocate a clear (and sometimes even critical) position through the use of sophisticated details and materials that reveal a refined manufacturing legacy more typical of local craft traditions as well as a rich heritage in industrial design. One might claim that the products shown here have something of a restrained, even generic appearance; but a closer look reveals subtle differences, like the astonishingly smooth, rich texture of a floating wooden tray, the precise geometrical inclination of a chair back, or the idea of a lamp that is defined by the light it emits rather than its own physical appearance. Extensive, comprehensive knowledge and accessible expertise in manufacturing represents a very tangible asset that enables designers to develop products that stand out in the impersonal
world of sameness created by serial industrial production and the unchecked consumerism it so unquestioningly serves. Whether these objects are produced in larger, specialized companies, traditional craft centres or manufactured in designersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; studios or workshops, all embody outstanding manufacturing skills combining the advantages of both handicraft techniques and industrial production. The often unforeseen or overlooked details and solutions come to life owing precisely to the combination of these two modes of production, which bring together the richness and virtuosity of craftsmanship with the idea of industrial perfection. Whether designers work alone as the creators, developers, manufacturers and distributors of their own products, or their visions are closely aligned with the client or commissioning company, it is precisely through these means of production, through the imaginative translation of existing knowledge and skills into this particular moment of time, that this selection of objects take both a critical as well as projective position. These designs are not critical by virtue of their opening up certain questions, but instead because they suggest or represent alternatives through responsible means of production. The value of these products therefore extends beyond questions of market and utility. Equally if not more important is the awareness of time and production that is integral to the process of creating a meaningful relationship with the user and the environment.
27 products & series new 21 designers authentic 13 brand collaborations effective 100%
The young multidisciplinary studio Aklih is committed to creating smart and simple solutions to everyday needs, with a twist.
What to do with big wet,
dripping umbrellas once you get where you’re going, whether it’s home, the office, wherever. Throw them in the bathtub or the bathroom floor? Place them in a cylinder of some sort that takes up valuable space? Prop them up in the corner – and let them drip all over
Designed & produced by
the place? Hardly elegant solutions, any of these.
Instead, drop them into a stylish and discrete April umbrella stand and forget about them. April’s simple, functional design ensures your floors stay dry and unaffected.
April is made from a smooth,
single–piece white concrete base to provide great stability in any conditions, and gets a soft felt base to prevent the floor from being scratched. The deep cut of the upper part is designed to catch and retain plenty of water run–off. And the stands come in a number of size–iterations for a number of umbrellas, so they only take up as much space as you want and need.
The stands are made entirely from a hi–tech
mineral casting material and sprayed with a colourful coating for the final, decorative touch. And they’re fully weather resistant, so they can also be used outdoors as well as in.
But it’s the colours that really seal the
deal – 8 in all, soft yet vibrant colours with just a hint of contemporary retro. Smart design turning everyday household items into stylish home accessories.
April Umbrella Stand
Aklih is a small, Mirna–based team of young designers and engineers. The AKLIH team consists of creatives with specific experience in design, engineering, production, photography, even marketing, which helps them define projects and directions clearly and efficiently.
Cup is a small, handy contemporary LED
lamp that you can take with you anywhere. But it’s the technology and the materials employed that set it
Designed & produced by
apart, make it a little special. Because Cup employs
3D printing technology, the studio creates unique
products, each a little different from another, and allows them to refine their products and make them a little better with each iteration. The Cup lamp is 3D printed using a mixture of biodegradable plastic and wood. The built–in LED lamp is covered with frosted glass, which provides a soft, evenly distributed light, making for a warm, intimate effect.
And the Cup lamp is as versatile
as it is discretely stylish, and can – at 6.5 cm (h) x 9.5 cm (w) x 9.5 cm (d) – easily be positioned almost anywhere for maximum effect – place it on a table, on the floor, or hang it on the wall or a piece of furniture. Light just where and how you want it.
And for a
nice refreshing change, cords and cables are not an eyesore to be hidden away, but here a decided asset, available in an array of strong yet simple colours: in black, blue, orange, red, green, light green.
According to designer Andraž Šapec, Collodi draws its inspiration from Carlo Collodi's famous children’s tale Pinocchio, which chronicles the transformation of a wooden puppet into a little boy. So for Šapec, the idea was to create something vibrant and alive, a piece of furniture that would fill a space with energy and spirit. That’s why, apart from looking warm and inviting, and comfortable, regardless of the user’s shape or
size, Collodi is made from 100% recyclable materials.
The frame, crafted from locally–sourced beech wood,
is paired with a shell made of compressed and moulded felt. The felt is made almost entirely out of recycled PET bottles – about 52 for each chair – and formed without any glues or adhesives, using only heat and pressure. This special composition creates a very specific kind of grain and texture that makes it all the more compelling.
Even the frame comes
flat–packed, which significantly lowers the cost of storage and shipping and reduces the carbon footprint considerably; ultimately, it can be recycled entirely. “Originally the legs were white, but we felt they should be simple, natural looking,” says Šapec.
industrial designer, Andraž Šapec is always looking to find a balance between order and the unexpected, working to uncover some hidden simplicity and to enrich it with some sense of unique character. The Collodi chair is yet another innovative, forward– looking design in the Donar d. o. o. portfolio, making smart and seductive use of felts, recyclables and stylish, contemporary comfort. And the chair will now be part of a series of pieces, to be accompanied by a coffee table / footrest and a bar stool, also produced by Donar.
Produced by Donar d. o. o. www.donar.si
The hand–assembled modular 1∞ Light is part of BelaBela’s 1∞ collection, by which a single module from a single manufacturing tool can create a variety of different products. Depending on the assembly and materials, the resulting products may find their way into a fashion wearable, an interior, or a spatial installation. “As a result,” says founder Jana Mršnik, “there are fewer production phases and we
Designed & produced by
incorporate some manual work into the final product.”
The lampshade consisting of polypropylene, an electric
Jana Mršnik with Vesna Štih
cable, and an LED bulb is composed entirely of layered modules, creating a stable voluminous shape without any additional constructional or bonding elements. The series extends to include the flat–packed polypropylene 1∞ Room divider cum DIY curtain wall, which is hand–assembled, environmentally friendly, recyclable and machine washable, and allows for an array of different compositions.
modular production also extends to include what Mršnik designates Versatile Objects, cut–outs in 100% wool felt for use as mats, jewellery, scarfs, coaster, puzzles and more. Here surfaces unwind into structured strips and folds back to their original form, so several products can be combined into a larger surface and infinite strips, encouraging users to re–form them according to their own individual dates and requirements.
“BelaBela works to highlight the
meaning of manual work and personal creativity,” says Mršnik, “which gives the user the chance to be actively involved in creating the final product.”
First time in Slovenia – also now the best!
the accompanying exhibition slogan–work of artist and product designer Dan Adlešič, a recent graduate of His Furniture Pets
the Design Academy Eindhoven.
is a series of objects that plays on and pushes the logic of artificial needs and the rhetoric of “cumulative lustre” to the extreme; that transforms it into both a parody and a tool of critique.
Dan’s approach to
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design lies (well) outside the conventional design
boundaries, reflecting his passion for eclectica, junk,
materials, approachable absurdia. He also belongs or subscribes – and not – to the maker culture, which values a hands–on approach, to physical prototyping and experimentation.
His designs feature animals
and animal characteristics, often inspired by pets in the way they both look and work. Cat Broommade consists of a pink, sticky silicone tongue that collects dust like a cat licking a soft, furry coat, while the Squirrel Shelf – whose only feature is its ability to clean itself (Now also with integrated Advanced Self–CleaningTechnology™) – uses squirrel–like tail to clean the shelf on which it is perched.
critical of rampant consumerism, he’s also critical of crowdfunding schemes and platforms like Kickstarter, that both create opportunities to get things built and sold, yet also give rise to a vast array of yet more superfluous, unnecessary things.
“Pets are cute,
approachable; I wanted to make them so nice that people’s first reaction would be ‘oh, I want to have that, that’s cool,’ but would be quickly followed by ‘oh, but that’s ridiculous’”.
David Tavčar is a product designer, who studied architecture, and afterward won a competition to produce prints for ceramic tiles. Left with the rights to the designs he decided to print them on textiles and showed them in Milan, where he was picked up by an Austrian textile manufacturer. He ended up working as an in–house designer for three Austrian producers, but decided amidst all that work to save his money
Designed & produced by
and put it all into producing his own collection.
It took a whole year to print some 1,000 pieces. His
current collection is extensive, with 12 different sheet and pillowcase sets, each in various colour schemes, four kitchen towels, boxer shorts, scarves and more. The logic behind the motifs lies in his love of objects, crafted objects; and he wanted to produce an entire collection in a highly traditional way – all hand– screen printed on fine materials; and knowing where everything comes from. Kitchen towels feature kitchen utensils with lobsters in the background, sugar tongs with alligators, porcelain cups with enormous hippos. “There’s a lot of fetishism going on here; many objects I portray I would love to have; some rare porcelain cups might cost €40,000, while my kitchen towel with the cups costs €30 – which is still expensive, but it’s a nice product.”
produced and sourced from within a 300 km radius of Ljubljana – between Ljubljana, Vienna, Zagreb and Trieste: cotton from Italy, virgin wool, linen and dyes from Austria, hand–sewn labels from a small family– run company in Zagreb. Pigments are mixed with acid which makes the fibres absorb the dyes permanently and can’t be washed out, even at 60 degrees, and prints can be ironed, directly.
Linden is a contract furniture brand dedicated to hotel, restaurant, lounge, office and other contract projects produced by the Žiri–based Žakelj. The Linden brand develops furniture solutions that deliver quality, functional designs that allow for various customer–driven configurations together with a high level of customisation, which is integral to all of the brand’s collections.
All of the Linden–brand
products are designed by Grupo H, a Ljubljana–based
multidisciplinary studio whose work extends from
architecture and landscape design to product design. The recent Žakelj–Grupo–H pairing turned out to be a match made in contract–heaven. “They chose us
Produced by Linden by Žakelj www.linden.si
not because we were the best, but because they were confident we could produce something they really needed. We co–created the Linden brand because we had a vision of how this could work for them – producing flexible, quality furnishing solutions that could be produced efficiently based on simple details and attractive, safe and durable materials.”
designs are flexible enough such that they can work in an array of colours and decorative schemes. “The original table design – plain white table with white metal legs – could also be configured as a stone table top with chrome legs and work beautifully, seamlessly,” says Srđan Nađ of Grupo–H.
The Alley collection
features taborets, coffee tables and stools created to serve an array of seating and service arrangements, from stand–alones to complete ensembles.
Alley Taboret & Coffee Table
Modular seating solutions were practically made for large lounge areas. Which is why Žakelj’s Linden brand created the Logan collection. Logan walks that fine balance between distinct design and endless flexible system modularity. The Logan system is based on the playful interaction between the outer shell that wraps the soft inner seating cushions arranged according to the user and application
– which interaction follows throughout the range
of seating arrangements, regardless of which of
the many elements are employed.
Just a few
years back, Žakelj recognised the distinct need for good professional/contract furniture – for hotels, restaurants, commercial centres and similar – which was fast expanding in the region. After delivering custom furniture projects for two projects in Croatia, they approached the same young Kranj–based Grupo–H – headed by Srđan Nađ and Urška Podlogar Kos – to co–create a line of smart and engaging furniture products they could offer their professional clients. To date, Grupo–H has now produced a total of six collections for Linden.
“Urška is the critical
inspector,” says Srđan, “she checks every step of the way the solution is highly ergonomic, and that everything works well together as a unified, well– performing whole.”
Flexible modularity means
the sofa is available as a 2– or 3–seater, as a chaise lounge or chaise–end sofa, as a middle, corner or corner–end sofa, even footstools in single or double lengths; with steel or wooden legs, in oak or ash.
Produced by Linden by Žakelj www.linden.si
Ines Kovačič is something of a quiet legend among ceramic artists in Slovenia and surrounding region. Many younger ceramicists point to Ines as mentor, guide, purist. She works – teaches and produces – out of an old converted mill on – or literally in – the banks of the Ljubljanica river in Ljubljana.
Ode to Anagama series of vases is fashioned from Spanish clay, which is rougher, has small pieces of
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stone and minerals, quite unlike the fine porcelain in
which she often works. It’s coarse, earthy yet refined,
and does marvellous things treated the right way. “I make a lot of cylinders, which can be used as vases or similar. Cylinders – ridged, smooth, symmetrical and otherwise – all hand–thrown without tools, really speak to me.”
Kovačič went to Japan years ago
specifically to learn the art of Anagama, the traditional technique of Japanese firing. In a very hot (1300°C and higher) tunnel–shaped Anagama wood–burning kiln, wood ash settles on the pieces during the firing, which complex interaction between flame, ash, and the minerals of the clay creates a natural ash glaze. Back closer to home, Kovačič takes her work – pre–fired at some 1000°C – near Plitvice, Croatia, to fire in a traditional wood–burning kiln built by locals together with local Korean craftspeople. Fired this way pieces don’t require any glazing, and instead take best advantage of the clay’s properties as they react to different heat treatments – to beautiful, compelling effect. “Japanese–style ceramics are very popular these days. I don’t try and produce what’s popular; but I do produce sushi plates and tea cups, because they belong to the tradition I so much like and admire. And I studied the Japanese tea ceremony when I was there – so I have some special touch for that.”
Unglazed Ceramic Cylinders
Janža is a ceramicist, Nastja an architect and illustrator. They met at a ceramics workshop, which led Janža to invite Nastya to collaborate. “But I didn’t want to direct or influence her in any way,” says Janža. “And I had to figure out how to draw on clay,” Nastja remembers, “which is a lot different from drawing on paper or computer.”
For her part, Janža spends
much of her time making useful ceramics – tableware
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(plates & cups), vases and various tall objects. With
JNŽ Ceramics / Janža Dolinšek,
a background in visual communication, she found it
Naca Kraca / Nastja Utroša
highly refreshing to work in 3D. “Clay is such a tactile
material, you get such a good feel, such contact with what you’re doing.”
Janža worked under Slovenian
ceramicist Hana Karim, who served as her mentor, and who she credits with teaching her everything. “I like all the work involved, and the commitment involved in ceramics work. You can’t just delete a file, a failed vase, it’s here, you can see and feel it, you have to do something with it and make it work.”
shapes she creates are very organic, and rarely draws inspiration from other ceramicists. Similarly, she’s not interested in taking from finished forms of expression, but from nature and elsewhere – from architecture, photography, graphic art and similar.
illustrator Nastja develops shapes and forms out of a roughly modernist architectural tradition, starting with sketches and thematic treatments like the Bauhaus and similar. “It’s an interesting juxtaposition,” says Nastja, “as architecture is very precise, well–defined and disciplined; then it’s transferred to Janža’s pieces, which are not symmetrical nor precisely finished, but instead a little rough and clearly demonstrate the handmade component – which is part of what makes them so special.”
JNŽ xNACA Ceramics Collection
To start, Jernej Mali is not a designer. He’s a sculptor. And he and his studio were working in wood a lot, doing restoration projects and similar, but sculpting in wood was not going to be a big seller. Which led him to explore what he could produce, with his passion for wood, that would be both practical and might sell. And he had access to beautiful offcuts (leftovers) in oak, walnut, cherry, pear and other compelling
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species from woodworking friends. Using offcuts
Atelje Mali / Jernej Mali
would mean zero–waste. Similarly, the objects he
chose to make would be directly adapted from the size and shape of the offcut, whether a spoon, spatula, butter knife, cutting board or cup.
“I try and use as
much of the cut as possible; and with the little that’s left over I use to heat the studio,” says Mali, “trying to make the process as circular as possible.” Which meant that series would be limited to the number of pieces he could produce from a given stock of cuts. “I like to play with small variations in shape, geometry and scale,” says Mali. The secret to the seductive black finish is a generous soak in wine vinegar. A mixture of bee’s wax and mineral oil as a finish ensures the tableware is waterproof, wash–safe and food–safe. “It’s not like plastic that you can just throw in the dishwasher – it requires a little care and attention.” “I’m a very curious person, and attracted by all kinds of visual stimuli. One of the spoons I carved I’ve decided to cast now in bronze and aluminium, to get a very different texture and finish, because I want to see the woodgrain, to give the impression of wood, but at the same time to see that it’s clearly not.”
Jernej is collaborating with many of Slovenia’s top chefs and restaurants to develop entire lines for their service, as many recognise the value of special, one– off productions with a very personal touch.
Black Series Kitchen Utensils
After living and studying around the world, Bosnian architect Ivana Blaž and Slovenian designer and illustrator Nina Mršnik returned home and decided to open a new chapter in the traditional story that is the kilim – specifically Bosnian kilims.
A kilim is a
traditional hand–woven wool fabric that can be used as a rug, a blanket, or to cover a bed or sofa; and can also be hung to decorate walls and windows. In a
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world saturated with poorly made industrial rugs and
Ivana Blaž & Nina Mršnik
carpets made of synthetic materials and choking the
environment, a good kilim is a small, beautiful miracle. Upon a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, they noticed almost nobody was practicing this special centuries–old craft. And as designers they felt they had something to bring to the loom – a fresh sense of contemporary design that could make good use of quality local materials and knowhow. So they launched a Kickstarter project some three years back, raising enough to start.
Kobeiagi kilims are
made by the skilled weavers of Mrs Lejla’s workshop, located in the small Bosnian town of Visoko. They source the finest wool from the local long–haired sheep, which then has to be spun, plied into thread and dyed – using only natural dyes – before the weavers can begin. Every part of the kilim weaving process takes place within a 20 km radius – meaning they are a truly local product.
“Our designs don’t
much follow the more common, traditional patterns, so they pose a compelling challenge for the women making them,” says Ivana. “Stana, which employs more abstract forms and composition, and Emina, which is a very contemporary expression of traditional mountain motifs, have proven to be the most popular to date.”
Luka Stepan’s Lucky armchair is many things, and something of a compelling contradiction in terms. It’s both open and closed, horizontal and vertical; and it’s neat and clean yet serious and substantial; and low enough to be pushed beneath a table or desk. (The name Lucky is something of an ironic misnomer, as the first attempt at prototype proved unable to contain the bent plywood and broke the mould and all related components.)
It’s the archetypal armchair,
providing a correct sitting position and sublimely familiar in its precise forms. Traditional materials like stained, form–pressed oak or walnut plywood frame a leather or fabric–covered padded seat and back. It’s sumptuous simplicity, employing a monochrome colour scheme to underscore its eminently classical yet borderline retro expression.
Stepan is a product
and furniture designer based in Ljubljana, and studied under Ron Arad at the Royal College of Art in London. “When I began I wanted to do a couple of things: I wanted to see how far I could go fashioning a chair out of bent plywood, myself, with simple tools; and to make something that would be affordable, not exclusive,” says Stepan. “And Blå Station, as producer, played a positive part in developing the product, didn’t have a fixed idea of what this should be, and were ready to invest in exploring ways of best achieving what we wanted to do.”
Designed by Luka Stepan www.lukastepan.com Produced by Blå Station AB (Åhus, Sweden) www.blastation.com
These beautifully carved shelves serve a number of purposes or agendas: they work as shelves, as a room divider or partition wall – or, if you like, as something of a design statement piece.
designer Stepan’s Lucky armchair, his shelf design incorporates, celebrates a sense of retro with its fluid, flowing geometrical structure scheme. And its sensual curves work to show off the walnut veneer's natural,
earthy grain. And in addition to this casually elegant
angle, the eight shelves also incorporate powder– coated steel book–ends.
Alongside the walnut,
Polygon is also available in solid ash and ash veneer, even a plain glossy white finish for a cleaner, more neutral effect.
At the time Stepan was approached
– via a post–graduate collective exhibition at London Design Week – MADE.COM was essentially a startup looking to disrupt the distribution system in the furniture business; and were one of the first to launch an exclusively online marketplace. Which in part drove the design to work as an efficient flat–pack solution; which in turn makes it efficient to ship long–distance and deliver; and in turn, again, means buyers/users have to assemble it themselves. So contemporary retro in every way.
Polygon Shelving Unit
www.lukastepan.com Produced by MADE.COM (UK) www.made.com
Ribrand is a contemporary brand of wooden products that is the result of a collaboration between Mashoni Design Studio and the Ribnica Handicraft Centre. Ribnica, in south–central Slovenia, is well known for its rich heritage in wooden wares.
Handicraft Centre is a public institution created to care for the overall preservation and development of the local cultural heritage and its integration into
various contemporary applications – like creative
Design Studio Mashoni
industries. In fact the wooden ware that comes out
of Ribnica is constantly adapted to the market, new technologies are introduced, and new products are developed – which results in high quality products that are genuinely useful – and beautiful.
www.ribrand.si Produced by Ribnica Handicraft Centre www.rokodelskicenter–ribnica.si
part, designer Janez Mesarič describes Mashoni, founded back in 2014, as a multidisciplinary design studio creating thoughtful and innovative design solutions that tackle the complex challenges of the future.
So a curiously productive fit – the very
contemporary, innovative and future–driven mindset of Mashoni with the rich knowledge embedded in traditional local practices.
Which gave rise to
Ribrand’s 3–piece kitchen utensil set – spoon, spatula and fork – which is crafted in solid Slovenian walnut. The simplicity of the basic geometric forms employed here makes these utensils elegant yet playful. And each utensil employs a hidden magnet inside, which allows hanging them on/from a metal surface – or simply store them as a compact 3–piece pack in the kitchen drawer.
Ribrand Kitchen Utensils
For Mashoni’s lead designer and creative director Janez Mesarič, “light has always been seen as a functional necessity, but for me it’s also an element capable of enhancing sensorial experience.” His Vitka Luminaire’s slim–profile body houses a powerful light source that can be dimmed and controlled via sophisticated sensory electronics that provide the optimal amount and quality of light. “The
physical elements of the Vitka Luminaire collection
Design Studio Mashoni /
were designed to create a strong graphic impression,”
says Mesarič, “even when the light is not in operation.” Mesarič produced a number of prototypes for an exhibition, which produced a version of the current iteration of Vitka. Not long after, he took the ready prototypes to Intra Lighting CEO Marino Furlan, who decided almost immediately to pick it up and produce it – as is. Intra, Slovenia’s leading producer of innovative design lighting solutions, with production in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, did end up requiring a few small changes to better facilitate production, but stayed faithful, says Mesarič, to the original spirit and scheme. The solid metal weight ensures the lamp remains stable; as it isn’t fixed it can be flipped and moved, and can also be removed, allowing more flexible placement. Leaned up against the wall the lamp creates a more dramatic lighting effect, while free– standing it provides a more even distribution of light across the room.
Vitka is available as a floor,
suspension, hybrid, and table model, in black or white matte finish.
www.mashoni.com Produced by Intra Lighting www.intra–lighting.com
Matej Štefanac’s PLUSminus lamp moves in mysterious ways, moves like no other lamp does. Thanks to its unique moving mechanism, the lamp’s position is adjusted with the mere soft touch of a finger. As soon as the user stops applying pressure to the lamp frame the lamp locks in, instantly, which actually creates the impression the lamp is floating. As a result, the lamp’s innovative mechanism offers
Designed & produced by
users complete freedom to adjust it precisely to
the desired position, sliding both horizontally and
vertically, and it rotating around two axes. Similarly, thanks to its feather–light minimalistic design and almost absurdly thin profiles, the lamp is highly unobtrusive, almost invisible. An LED board attached to the lamp’s aluminium tubing, which acts like a heat sink, serves as the lamp’s light source. Ljubljana–based furniture designer Matej Štefanac points out, that “unlike common desk or work lamps, PLUSminus, which is built from aluminium, steel and stone, doesn’t use any springs, weights or other conventional methods of directing and controlling the lamp. Now I’m developing a floor model, which will be bigger, taller, but incorporate the same mechanism, and stand on a concrete base, for stability.”
The NicoLess chair is a tribute to the great Slovenian industrial designer Niko Kralj and his iconic Shell chair, a congress seat that can be linked to form compositions of various lengths or stacked and stored vertically – simply and stylishly.
Part of this
contemporary tribute consists in the very simplicity of the design – two triangular ergonomic plates joined by simple straps that make for comfortable sitting by adapting to the body.
As producer, Donar
CEO Matej Feguš points with pride at working with materials we have, for better and for worse, in great abundance – trash! “By re–thinking our philosophy of socially responsible, sustainable design, we worked together with Primož to create a simple but unique chair made of recycled felt, consisting of 60% recycled PP (polypropylene) bottles and 40% non– woven textile.”
“We did a lot of tests with small
models and mockups,” says Jeza, “using various high temperature treatments, with different compositions to determine what was going to work best – what was going to best respond to the human body. So it took a good year of prototyping to get it ready for production.”
Felt is naturally flexile and ergonomic,
and can be formed using only heat and pressure. And NicoLess can be easily transformed into an office chair using two metal base components, or into a living room chair with a wooden base.
saw that the felt would have to be far darker than we’d originally thought, we started looking at different colour treatments for the frame–legs, so we found a handful of vivid basic colours – blue, yellow, red – as well as copper, chrome and my favourite, black chrome, which actually won a Red Dot award.”
Designed by Primož Jeza Studio www.primozjeza.com Produced by Donar d. o. o. www.donar.si
Zofa Ve is a modular sofa set that allows for different spatial compositions – and allows users to individually set the backrest incline. It can also be configured into a bed, with dimensions of either 140 × 200 cm or 200 × 200 cm. The sitting part is draped by default in black velvet or alternatively, wool, while the metal base–frame is powder coated or cast in copper. The Ve moniker, like the delicate network of legs the
sofa stands on, comes from Venice, and the thin,
Primož Jeza Studio
fine piles that support the miraculous structural
composition that make it unique.
“Initially, we were
all a little skeptical – our studio and the producer Donar – all but the subcontractor that built the first prototype, who saw no particular issues making the system work and endure,” says designer Primož Jeza. The sofa was actually originally designed for a Croatian company, but after some time they decided it was too extravagant. So Jeza took it to Donar CEO Matej Feguš in Ljubljana, who was very interested and picked it up. It’s now in production proper and the second generation series of sofas is taking shape at Donar’s sweeping combination showroom, offices and production floor in Ljubljana.
Produced by Donar d. o. o. www.donar.si
Pikka is the Slovenian brand, brainchild and production line of Raketa architects Katjuša Kranjc Kuhar and Rok Kuhar, set into orbit to bring compelling new designs to life. Much of their work, as architects and designers, revolves around achieving an optimal sense of balance. And their extensive experience creating beautifully functional objects and spaces comes through in everything they do.
The first performer
in the Pikka brand series is Familia Circulum, a range
of finely–crafted smart and simple home/office decor
accessories. Circulum is a place for the essentials carved out of seductive materiality that simply radiates
Rok Kuhar www.raketa.si
functional elegance and sublime utility. Circulum, like
life itself, takes us round in curious circles as we cycle
through the day.
It’s pure function dressed to thrill.
Close attention to marvellous materiality in three lines and myriad finish combinations – in marble, walnut, leather together with chrome, copper or gold plating – makes it part of your wardrobe, your decor scheme, your sense and sensibilities. The same common underlying theme and tasteful, functional elegance leave it entirely open to personalisation.
It’s all rich
grains and sumptuous veins, measuring 305 mm, all locally sourced and crafted, naturally.
Circulum Ring Ceiling
You might think of Pikka’s Nevo as something of a flirt, seeing as it flirts with the past and a host of enduring icons. But under its polished surface we find plenty of serious and sober consideration – of the user and user experience.
As a result it’s marvellously
accommodating, and can take pretty much whatever guests and family might throw at or on it – at parties, dinners and throughout the everyday. It’s an elegantly
functional hanger, highly stable and capable, both.
Nevo is just one in the Pikka line of smart and stylish home decor accessories designed and produced by the Ljubljana–based Raketa architects
Katjuša Kranjc, Rok Kuhar www.raketa.si
Katjuša Kranjc & Rok Kuhar. Calling it a coat rack,
however, would be sorely missing the point. Well–
considered cuts of select bent solid wooden rings
together with discretely hidden fixing points transform the central metal tube into a fountain of stylish utility. “Working in interior design, we always find millions of products out there” says Kuhar, “but never the one you’re looking for – either you don’t find it or it doesn’t exist. Backgrounds in both industrial and interior design means we’re able to develop products specifically for projects – but ones that embody a real story.” Nevo stands 180 x 65 cm, and is available in solid beech with metal in black, white or silver.
Nevo Coat Hanger
The Helga ceramic wine rack was developed by Sadar+Vuga architects primarily for a private apartment in Belgrade, Serbia. Their extensive portfolio of built work ranges from innovative town planning to interactive new public buildings to strong interventions within older existing structures. The idea was to design a modular element, but at the same time a unique piece of furniture for
storing and displaying wine. The prime element of
the modular structure is made of a glazed ceramic
block manufactured locally at the Pottery Center Bahor, a small pottery workshop in Slovenia, which was instrumental in the prototyping and production optimisation processes.
The Helga wine rack
Boštjan Vuga, Maša Ogrin www.sadarvuga.com Produced by
can be assembled in an array of different size–
Pottery Center Bahor
configurations: It can be used as a small, freestanding
unit, with the prime elements connected with steel elements. Or it can be used to create large wall or partition surfaces or furniture elements, in which case the prime elements are set in a wooden frame or attached directly to the wall.
come in a range of typical, natural colours reminiscent of traditional ceramic stoves known across much of Europe. And the decorative illustrations featured on some elements are hand–painted.
Helga is available
at the id:doma store in Ljubljana.
Helga Wine Rack
Tak Kolektiv began as a collaborative practice in 2015 between three young designers – from product, graphic and spatial design – who shared a common vision of a well–designed future.
The Kauch Oto
Sofa – like all Kauch brand sofas – was made in close cooperation with the designers, which is an integral part of the brand’s larger scheme of exploring new approaches to the process, design, and functionality of upholstered furniture.
“The sofa should be easily
assembled on the end–customer’s premises” says Matic of Tak. “So in addition to design, we actually went into the business of design service. And some of our customers are now younger people, who tend to move around, and this is perfect for them. Yet it gives nothing away that would suggest such ease – instead it speaks of smart, robust detailing and materials.” Regardless of its size and configuration, Oto’s characteristic shape provides a fine balance between clean design and comfort – for any setting. And a deep seating area combined with two different types of cushions make it flexibly liveable.
cloth cover is 100% recycled cotton, next door from Italy, and became the standard cover for the series.
Designed by TAK Kolektiv www.takkolektiv.com Produced by Kauch www.kauch.si
By day, it’s a perfect wooden minimalist circle on the wall – a symbol, an icon, a statement or a design piece. Once the sun sets, Eclipse becomes a sublime source of soft yet well–delineated light. The circular trace of light circle can be adjusted and amplified to suit the user’s moods and particular needs; and on the other side, an equally impressive shadow accompanies each position. Together, the
Designed & produced by
wooden frame, the light and the shadow combine
to form a group of interconnected elements that
transform a mere wall into a timeless screen. The light reflected from the wooden frame creates a ring of warm illumination, with the slight gradient in colour temperature mimicking what designer Sepic describes as “the natural hues of a perfect afternoon”. Eclipse uses safe, long–lasting, low–voltage LED– strip technology that doesn’t produce an excessive amount of heat. The entire ensemble consists only in a very thin ring of bent wood and a bright LED belt oozing warm light.
Eclipse represents the best
of old–school meets new school – the lamp can be adjusted manually by moving the frame closer to or further away from the wall, with the distance defining the lamp’s luminous effect and resulting mood. Eclipse is produced on a small scale, piece by piece, in a circle of passionate and skilled artisans; and is available in 70 and 90 cm–sizes, in natural or custom– burned wood, with remote dimmer.
Asobi is a creative consultancy specialising in product design and brand development. Some years back, designer Gorazd Malačič of Asobi introduced a new furniture and lighting brand, Tokio, distinguished by clean, simple lines, advanced technologies, and a playful touch with an eye to the future. The Tokio Carbon Light is a high–performing modular suspension light that employs the latest
LED technology, a feather–light carbon fibre body
linking highly efficient power LED spots. Better, sexier,
it exploits an adaptable design and multiple LED spot options, which allows users to create optimum illumination scenarios for any surface or environment. Tokio features a modular structure entirely in carbon fibre, with a natural matte finish, also available in any RAL colour. 6W LED bulbs in 2700K or 4000K colour temperature, in spot 26°, medium 34° or wide 54° optics; in combinations of 2–12 LED standard versions. And it’s dimmable, no less; and even custom sizes are available. Go configure that.
Produced by Tokio www.tokiotokio.com
Tokio is the impassioned brand–brainchild of Asobi co–founder and designer Gorazd Malačič. Tokio pursues a contemporary vision free of the cumbersome weight of heritage and tradition that might cloud its stylistic judgment and ultimate design output – and pushes back against the rigid confines of what is seen as trendy or simply of the moment in today’s contemporary design landscape. The Tokio Tri Light is the perfect triangular tiling honeycomb, a taste of enlightenment in and for the post–factual era. It’s a paracompact flexible design system that can easily be perpetuated into infinity. And it can be custom–built to most any size and shape desired. Closely milled and agonisingly anodised, each aluminium triangle shines on its own, creating a harmonious, widely dispersed light that evocatively reminds us of the importance of elementary particles. Let the LED shine on through.
Tri Light is a
modular structure cast entirely in anodised aluminium, and is available in various colour finishes, with 2.3W LEDs per module, running an adjustable colour temperature range of 2700K–4000K, for just the temp you and your particular environment require. And it’s both dimmable and programmable, and available in configurations of 12–82 modules as standard sizes, with custom sizes also available.
Designed by Asobi www.asobi.si Produced by Tokio www.tokiotokio.com
On the one hand, Take a seat! is a novel and compelling piece of furniture – a picnic table with an integrated canopy that both provides shade and serves as a source of light. And it uses existing industrial products in new, innovative ways and integrates them into a single new functional object. On the other hand, this special installation, somewhat unorthodox in appearance, directs our attention to the place and act of both siting and sitting, and provides an opportunity, challenges us to look for alternative ways of using it in more public, more inclusive applications.
Designed & produced by Maechtig Vrhunc Architects / Urša Vrhunc www.mvarch.com
“If public space is
the city's living room,” says architect/designer Urša Vrhunc, “then it needs a large table that can be used as an outdoor extension of our working, meeting and relaxing environments.”
Vrhunc is a co–founder
and principal at Maechtig Vrhunc Architects, active in architecture, urban and product design, which work can as well take the form of a program, a technique or a social innovation. She likes to both design and teach and fashion her own wardrobe; (she also dislikes beige and any proximity to a comfort zone.) The giant cushion–like canopy that hangs suspended above the wooden table is a pneumatic structure made of air–filled dunnage bags used in cargo transport to fill the empty spaces in cargo containers. These pillows are extremely impact– resistant and are largely impervious to fluctuations in temperature, and require no maintenance to maintain proper air pressure. And the cushion cover is both water resistant and diffuses light, beautifully.
Take A Seat! Canopy Table
Atelje Jernej Mali
05 Furniture Pets
11 Black Series Kitchen Utensils
01 April Umbrella Stand
15 Ribrand Kitchen Utensils
02 Cup Lamp
16 Vitka Luminarie
25 Carbon Light
20 Circulum Ring Ceiling
26 Tri Light
21 Nevo Coat Hanger
04 1∞ Light
22 Helga Wine Rack
Ivana Blaž & Nina Mršnik
12 Kobeiagi Kilims
24 Eclipse Lamp
07 Alley Taboret & Coffee Table
13 Lucky Armchair
08 Logan Sofa
14 Polygon Shelving Unit
Primož Jeza Studio
18 NicoLess Chair
17 PLUSMinus Lamp
19 Zofa Ve Andraž Šapec JNŽ Ceramics
03 Collodi Chair
10 JNŽ x NACA Ceramics Collection TAK Kolektiv Ines Kovačič
23 Oto Sofa
09 Unglazed Ceramic Cylinders David Tavčar Maechtig Vrhunc Architects 27 Take A Seat! Canopy Table
06 Home Textiles
Social Media Bojan Ažman
Published by Centre for Creativity / CfC
Museum of Architecture and Design, Ljubljana
COMUNICO & Kreativna Baza
Pot na Fužine 2 SI–1000 Ljubljana
Translations Andreja Šalamon Verbič (English)
For the publisher
Tea Požar (Italian)
Matevž Čelik, Director, MAO Print Head of Centre for Creativity / CfC
ABO grafika d. o. o.
Anja Zorko Print run Editor
Jeff Bickert Exhibition structure Texts
RPS d. o. o.
Jeff Bickert (Designs) Maja Vardjan, Mika Cimolini (Introductions)
© 2019 MAO / Centre for Creativity, Ljubljana © for the texts by the authors
Art Direction & Graphic Design
© for photos and other visual material by the authors
Kabinet 01 All rights reserved. No part of this publication Photography
may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or
Klemen Ilovar & Tilen Sepič (products & portraits);
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
Jeff Bickert (collage backgrounds); with Matevž
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise,
Paternoster, Janez Pukšič, Peter Škrlep, and
without the prior written consent of the publisher.
exhibitors The Centre for Creativity and 100 % Open are Styling
co–financed by the European Union from the
European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Slovenia. The CfC project is carried out
in the framework of the Operational Programme for the implementation of the EU Cohesion Policy
This catalogue accompanies the exhibition of the
in the period 2014–2020. The Centre for Creativity
same name – We’re Open!
programme was conceived by the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO).
Exhibition curator Mika Cimolini, Head of Programme, CfC
We would like to thank Helios TBLUS d. o. o. for the paint.
Identity & exhibition design Kabinet 01 CfC Team Maja Kovačič, Urška Krivograd, Marko Podjavoršek & Marin Berović
CIP – Kataložni zapis o publikaciji Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica, Ljubljana 7.05:62(497.4)"20" BICKERT, Jeff We're open! / [texts Jeff Bickert (designs) ; Maja Vardjan, Mika Cimolini (introductions) ; photography Klemen Ilovar ... et al.]. – Ljubljana : Centre for Creativity – CfC, Museum of Architecture and Design, 2019 ISBN 978–961–6669–54–2 1. Gl. stv. nasl. COBISS.SI–ID 299436032