Two young designers build the future of a fragmented Eastern Europe with great potentials
«A Serbian state-of-the-art design does not exist and has never existed. There has been a golden period for architecture, but it ended together with the former Yugoslavia. Now we are living a new beginning, everything is happening now and it is too fresh to be defined». Natasa Ilinicic and Yugoslava Kljakic speak while overlapping, in a minimal look that almost looks strict, like Mitrovi's architecture in the 1970s which features Belgrade. Natasa is 36 years old and has a maternal smile, Yugoslava just turned 30: together they are " Od-do design".
They met each other four years ago while they were being tested for a job in a furniture company. After being disappointed by the possibilities they were offered, they decided to write their own history.
How did you start out?
Kljakic: We had incredible energy and the intention to create something new in the field of architecture and interior design. We were active in the environmental cause and convinced by the possibility of sustainable architecture. We achieved production in an unconscious manner, it was almost like a game and with no ambition. At the time the reference models were Dutch, like Droog Design and we also liked Kostantin Grcic a lot. However, thinking about it now, we can say that the local architecture between the 1960s and the 1980s influenced us the most as well as groups of artists that were popular in the 1990s like Talent Factory and Skart.
Serbia was recently included in the market economy. What happened during these years and what will happen in the near future in the design field?
Ilincic: The period of the former Yugoslavia was the most florid for architecture and internal design. After the war we went through a dark period, only illuminated by the artistic groups that were against the war. There has been some influence from the West and a kitsch attitude as well as an attitude to destroy the previous values on all levels. Today things are changing: there is a great potential that is starting to be expressed, there is talent. Unfortunately we are still experiencing an old-fashion condition in industrial production and in technology, but we hope that the enthusiasm of the designers and of the intellectuals will help pull along the development.
Is Belgrade ready to become a European city?
Ilincic: In a certain sense Belgrade is already a city because it is full of people, of initiatives and events, but the development of the urban system must still be carried out. It is a city full of contradictions.
Kljakic: People must take stock of the past: taking what was good and use it to build the future.
What are your most important projects?
Kljakic: The interior design for Buzz, a multi-brand store in the shopping area of Belgrade, was extremely educational because it was an ample project, to be invented from the beginning to the end. During that period we went through a million ideas, problems and dilemmas, and it was also our first approach with the public. The concept we followed was the communicative continuity between the internal and external design of the shop through the windows as a big display. Winning the prize at the "local" Salon of Architecture 2006 with this experimental project was a surprise. Moreover we are very much tied to the project Redesign your Mind, this year at its third edition, in which we join Serbian artists and designers around the idea of sustainability.
Are there new trends "marked" Eastern Europe?
Ilincic: I don't think there is something that could be defined as an Eastern European design. Original ideas are arising in Slovenia, dark and ironic things at the same time. The modern oriental versatility that comes from Turkey is very interesting. As for Serbia, the productions are heading towards simplicity and intelligent solutions. This is probably a reaction to the consumerism that arrived in this decade along with the false acceptance of a bourgeois way of life, present in modern architecture and design. Unfortunately we still have very few industries here that invest in our field and we are actually making an attempt to create this market.
Projects coming soon?
Ilincic: We started a housing project with zero impact at Zogora, Montenegro. Now we are presenting three prototypes at the Salone Satellite in Milan, in the stand reserved to the young Serbian designers. Our ambition is to create a design that is innovative and that simplifies life. There are those who say that we are managing to do it.
(Traduzione di Sara Cecere)
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