In Ljubljana, the President of the Republic attended
a design prize-giving ceremony on live television. In Italy
that doesn’t happen, because the Bel Paese does not really
believe in design, but thinks of it as reserved to the few people
in that milieu or as a way of making products more pricey.
A less cynical view might lead one to say that design in Italy
is so widespread that it is no longer perceived as a quality to
be emphasised, in that it permeates everything Made in Italy
and is taken as much for granted as the sunrise or sunset.
But Italy is a contradictory country, where luxury and rubbish
dumps seem to be two sides of the same coin.
We Italians appreciate beauty, and we know how to create it apparently without effort, yet we cohabit with ugliness and at times the contemptible. There is no better way of understanding one’s own country than to visit others. Going through the streets of Slovenia’s capital, in perhaps the most dynamic of the republics to emerge from ex-Yugoslavia, one is immediately aware that its bridges are at the centre of the city’s life. Ljubljana’s most famous monument is the Tromostovje, a triple construction formed by a stone bridge built in 1842 to which two other lateral bridges, designed by Jože Ple?cnik, were added in 1931. The Tromostovje might be regarded as a metaphor, indicating that it is possible to achieve the same goal via different roads, and that the journey is as important as the destination. A dynamic Slovenian industry has placed its trust in design as the “bridge” that can help to shake off a troubled past and face the global market with determination. With far-sightedness, since 1964 Ljubljana has already been host to the biennial design prize BIO. Originally the only one organised by a country behind the Iron Curtain, it is open to international contributors and its examining commission and jury are also international. BIO illustrates the most interesting expressions of design in this part of the world.
The encounter with Slovenian and Croat designers is as stimulating as it is to discover that to this day the work of Jože Plecnik pervades the whole of Ljubljana. In his modest studio home, now converted into a poignant museum, Plecnik merged cultures and traditions while designing architectures that are truly bridges between people of different ethnic backgrounds. Will looking beyond, implicit in any design activity, ever become a widespread preliminary practice for the real improvement of each and everybody’s living conditions? The question becomes pleonastic when one pauses to consider one of the designs examined in this article – Guardian System, a device for the safe disarming of munitions, designed by Aleks Komel.
Oloopdesign Is a group of thre female designers: Tjaša Bavcon (1975), Katja Burger (1974) and Jasmina Fercek (1969). They are all Masters of Textile design. Squareplay (2006), a textile playground made of industrial woollen felt, lycra and PU foam. Woolen Soaps (2005), pure wool and soap felted together into a unique object. It is intended for body care, particularly for children’s hands and feet. Flying Slippers (2005), made of industrial woollen felt. Slippers and carpet are one object. When the slippers are not needed, they can be put back into the carpet.
Studio Cuculic´ Vanja Cuculic´ (1979, Zagreb) is the founder, senior designer and art director of Studio Cuculic´. Other people in the studio are Maja Draganic´ (junior designer) and Željka Pencinger (senior designer, art director). Booklet for 40ish sheets of paper (for Igepa Plana Papiri, d.o.o.), BIO 2008 Gold Medal. The Jury’s motivation: “The mix of images and poetry with different printing techniques creates a unique experience for the viewer, one that is rarely seen in commercial enterprises.”
Studio Jure Miklavc Jure Miklavc graduated in Industrial design from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. he is permanent industrial designer for the entire range of ski boots and cross-country footwear for Alpina. Binom (2008) is a new line of multi-volume comfort shoes based on many years of measurement campaigns and ergonomical studies. Volume control plates are integrated into every shoe; they can be removed (both or separately) and cover 85% of all feet. studio miklavc’s designers are Jure Miklavc, Barbara Šušteršic, Jaka Verbic, Jože Carli.
Grafik in Fanatik Is a company represented by two young creators: Primož Tomsic, a painter, and Aljosa Podbrscek, an engineer. Their U-Bathroom (rig ht), designed for Kolpa, is a complete bathroom furnishing with a mirror, a sink with holders and a trolley on wheels. They are namely designed so they can be folded into a cardboard sales packaging, similar to a suitcase that can be used to transport the whole piece of bathroom furniture. The packaging has holes at the bottom for the trolley’s wheels.
Aleks Komel In 2008 Aleks Komel won the BIO Quality Concept Award for his Guardian System for the Safe Disarmament of Explosive Ammunition Components, produced by Izop, d.o.o. The BIO 2008 Jury remarked: “This product is not only well designed in a formal manner, but it also provides a solution for a serious problem, thus becoming a potentially life-saving device.”