Design and Production in the Croatian Social Context

Abstract: From the historical point of view, there has never been a continious relationship between the Croatian production sector and Croatian product designers. The situation we are facing today is more positive at the moment. On one side we have the renewal of collaboration between designers and the most successfull industries on the domestic market, and on the other, there are some young talented individuals who self produce and whose products have already been widely recognized as neccessary and valuable.

Let’s bring to our minds the fact that the idea of the term design was first introduced to the Croatian language in the late 1960’s.

These years were marked by an intensive struggle to position the design practise in the real circumstances of mass production, with emphasis on the integration of artistic and technological skills into the production process.

In the meantime, many strong changes in the local political and social context happened, which influenced the Croatian production sector, which for this reasons couldn’t remain constant.

Apart from this, today we again have the chance to whitness the appearance of a new, more positive surrounding, characterized by the renewal of the relationship between the designer and the industry and also new thoughts on the role of the design practise in Croatian society.

In this context, on one side we can see the industry, announcing public contests, inviting designers to collaborate, and designers on the other side, responding quickly with successful solutions.

Speaking of domestic market in general, it could be described as a quiet little space, from the more “global” point of view, with two dominant production sectors – food and furniture industry.

It isn’t therefore surprising that the most successful examples of collaboration between designers and industry are deriving exactly from the previously mentioned sectors.

Here I will mention the company Kvadra which has accomplished a worldwide success, by launching new sofas and chairs, which they have developed with Croatian designers, for the domestic and foreign market.

On the other side, it is more and more evident that there is a growing number of young designers as self-producers. For them, this choice how to work, represents a huge challenge in trying to self-produce and self-promote. Very often they work completely alone, carrying all the costs of production and promotion.

A young Croatian product designer Ana Tevsic, who managed to promote her work successfully in the international London fair Tent, said that the most difficult problem she constantly faces is a lack of craftsmen or small companies who are willing to help her to develop ideas into prototypes and small series of products.

Matea Topic, also one of the Croatian successful young designers claimed that she has learnt with time to compromise between her wishes and actual possibilities, which can in fact result with some new discoveries, useful for further product development![1]

In addition, it is important to mention the great aid of social networks and web shops which help young designers to self-promote. Many of them, for instance, have their own Facebook fun pages as one of the most popular channels for self-promotion.

To conclude this short story, I could say that in Croatia we can also notice this growing social phenomenon of the appearance of young designer self-producers, working mostly in the local context.

This local context should be the greatest source of inspiration and possibilities for designers to contribute with new ideas to the material world. This is the area in which lies the opportunity to be unique and local. It is I think the best way to help the domestic design scene to survive in the global context.

Ana Perkovic is a lighting designer, researcher in industrial design and PAD’s correspondent from Croatia.


[1] Interview  with Mrs Ana Tevsic (product designer) and Mrs Matea Topic (product designer).

Bibliography

Margolin, V. & Vukic, F. (2009). Croatian design now/Hrvatski dizajn sad. Zagreb, HR:UPI-2M plus.

Vukic, F. (2003). Od oblikovanja do dizajna. Zagreb, HR: Meandar.

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