Being a designer in Croatia has always been a personal and professional challenge for everybody who contributed to the establishment of design as a discipline and practice in the local context.
The appearance of the term “design“ in Croatian language dates from the early 1960’s in close relation to the industrial modernization and tendencies to bring together art’s creative potentials with the technology of mass production.
The second edition of the book The design encyclopedia (2004), written by the American design historian Mel Byars, for the first time includes three significant names in Croatian design history (Tomislav Krizman, Bogdan Budimirov and Bernardo Bernardi), whose work and efforts have been appreciated, mostly among members of social elite who recognized the importance of design as a strategic tool of economic progress.
In the beginning of 1980’s the Croatian designers association was founded as the main professional organization in the country and exists as such nowadays. It organizes lectures, workshops and exhibitions and it has its own gallery space in the city of Zagreb.
The first exhibition of Croatian design “Croatian design 01“ was held in 1999 was accompanied by the publication of The Yearbook of Croatian design 01 as well as the award of Croatian designers association. This initiative is still active and it is taking place every two years.
The interfaculty Graduate School of design was founded in the year 1989 by initiative of the members of the Croatian designers association and is a part of the Faculty of Architecture in the University of Zagreb.
By now, around 400 students have graduated in this institution and they mostly work in the advertising industry, although there are exceptions and examples of the successful projects in the field of product design and non-profit social activities.
In the past few years the School of design has been developing collaborations with different companies interested in improving their products and services to become more competitive in domestic market. One good example is project “Six views on the room“, which was accomplished through the collaboration with “Hrvatski interijeri” (Croatian interiors) company. The prototypes of furniture systems and accessory equipment for the hotel rooms have been developed and presented at the annual furniture fair “Ambienta“.
The School of design also encourages projects in the field of social activism. A good example for this is the „Extraordinary design workshop“, which was held twice in Croatia in order to promote the ideas of inclusive design. Together with the members of different organizations who work with people with disabilities, designers have been developing products and visual identities to improve the real market position of the partner organizations.
Another valuable initiative was the “Repair“ project supported by organization REAKTOR that promotes Croatian product design. Citizens of Zagreb were asked to bring all different kinds of personal objects to re-design.
Designers were invited to answer the challenge of adding a new values to products that could have been just thrown away and simply forgotten.
Today the School of design is organizing more and more new, encouraging activities for students to practice and improve their skills under the more realistic circumstances.
In the year of 2010, for the first time the Croatian designers association launched the event D day as an international design festival which promotes the work of young designers, students and professionals up to the age of 35. Through its rich program of presentations, workshops and lectures D day educates participants and audience about current design tendencies and the importance of implementation of design discipline into all spheres of Croatian society.
Watch the video
D-day, by the croatina designers association
Byars, M. (2004) The Design Enciclopedia. New York, US: The Museum of Modern Art. London, GB: Laurence King Publishing.
Margolin, V., Vukić, F. (2009) Croatian design now/Hrvatski dizajn sad. Zagreb, HR:UPI-2M plus.
Vukić, F. (1998) A century on Croatian design. Zagreb, HR: Meandar.