The Uncomfortable in Zagreb Design Week #tdzg

2017  was a very important year for me, as I was invited to present The Uncomfortable as the guest artist at Zagreb Design Week (#tdzg). The fourth edition of the largest event in Croatia dedicated to design was held on May 2017 and the theme was one question:

“What is the problem?”

As a designer, I consider this question to be very meaningful. For some people, design might translate as forms and aesthetics and although I agree that these values make our life beautiful and help us communicate and express ourselves, there is more to design than that. Innovation comes from finding a problem and solving it, so asking  “what is problem?” is a very important step when starting to design a new product.

The organisers of the event, Daniel Tomičić and Tina Marković  thought that The Uncomfortable was a perfect fit with this year’s theme and I couldn’t agree more!

In contrast to innovative and functional products, the sabotaged familiar forms of The Uncomfortable would highlight the importance of functionality through faulty design.

So, I accepted the invitation with pleasure and the only thing left to consider was a very small detail….there were no objects to exhibit!

Up until this year, The Uncomfortable collection was mainly a series of 3D visuals. Throughout the years, I had a small collection of manufactured objects from my collaboration with Jung Von Matt and my participation in Lodz Design festival, but this was only a fraction of the Uncomfortable collection.

It was time for me to move forward with making the Uncomfortable objects reality!

The manufacture process very exciting for me, as I had no actual experience in prototype manufacturing and I learned so much! I dealt with a great variety of materials and methods, from handmade ceramics to lost wax casting, and from wood turning to large scale 3D printing and collaborated with so many different people. The challenge was to find a balance between economical production methods for prototypes and a final result that resembles expensive manufacturing methods and a high quality finish. The focus was on making the small scale items of the collection, and the finished results are in the prototypes section of the Collection.

In the event, The Uncomfortable was situated  in the main exhibition space in Lauba, were most of the other exhibitors presented furniture and small objects of industrial design, all of them useful objects. The collection was presented in a dark space, almost like a black box, and the objects in glass cases, implying to the visitor that this is a separate part of the main exhibition.

Almost like a practical joke, by showing forms that are instantly recognizable and familiar, the Uncomfortable objects teased the viewers into thinking these might be indeed objects manufactured for everyday use, like everything else in the main exhibition space, until they realize that there is a problem with them…

I am happy to say that the reactions were mainly smiles and laughs, because humour is my main intention! I was also very happy to see children reacting to these unusual objects, laughing and explaining to their friends what is the problem with each item. I will close this post with two of my favourite photos from the event, shot by Sanjin Kastelan, me as the happy artist in her first exhibition and a lady shocked at my designs. My goal was achieved!

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