CINEMA 2.5

In the last two and a half years, we had the great chance to work on the European project CINEMA (Interreg Danube Transnational Program). The huge challenge of generating ideas for the beneficial transformation of a central area in Gabrovo through the involvement of creative industries was accompanied by upgrading knowledge, long-term partnerships and networks of contacts and testing the possibilities of public-private partnerships. At the very end of the project, we make a brief overview of the success stories, approaches and results and what we bequeath to District 6, Gabrovo for the near future.

A WELL FUNCTIONING NETWORK OF PARTNERSHIPS

The CINEMA project gathered over 50 participants from 22 partner organizations from 8 countries with different professional profiles – municipalities, enterprises, business support structures, creatives and academic circles. We have been through a lot together – from the first wave of Covid-19 with remote working meetings and online events, to intensive seminars, sharing experience and knowledge live in Ljubljana (Slovenia), Košice (Slovakia), Timisoara and Resita (Romania). We will certainly keep in touch in the future and look for opportunities to collaborate once again. In a national context, we strengthened the fruitful and excellent relations with the Municipality of Gabrovo, proving that the public-private approach in such large initiatives is the way forward for successful interventions and sustainable development processes of the urban environment.

CONCEPTS AND INSTRUMENTS

The challenge to find and test suitable solutions for the revitalisation of dilapidated sites in inner city areas with the help of the creative industries resulted in a package of 20 tools, policy briefs, videos, guidelines and road maps etc., as well as new contacts in municipalities and government organisations that contribute to the project’s results being sustainable and transferable over time.

DEVELOPMENT OF DISTRICT 6  

In cooperation with the Gabrovo Municipality team, we launched a series of processes to awaken the neighborhood’s potential. After extensively researching locations, businesses, stakeholders, brainstorming and engaging various collaborators, together we successfully implemented and tested tools (the voucher system tool and the culture cooperation tool) which brought attention to the District 6 and three new businesses . Our work has been repeatedly presented to institutions and various organizations with local and international influence. The challenge for the future development of District 6 was set as one of the five tasks at Gabrovo Innovation Camp, and the suggested concept was accepted by the mayor of Gabrovo as a realistic and possible one for application in the municipal policy in the next six years.

We thank our partners, stakeholders and colleagues for their participation, support, interest and contribution in the last years.

SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES IN DESIGN WITH KATARÍNA HUTYROVÁ OF NOSENE

Just days before our much anticipated event* in Ruse on sustainable practices and the role of design in reframing the narrative on the imminence of taking actions for saving the planet now, we present our two special guests in consecutive interviews.

Katarína Hutyrová is the founder, co-owner and manager of NOSENE. She was included in the “30 under 30” list by Forbes Slovakia (2019) and won two times the Via Bona Award with NOSENE (Good Community Partner Award in 2016, Green Company Award in 2018). She is an avid enthusiast and ambassador for sustainable fashion and lifestyle through her activities as an author and moderator of the podcast “The New Sustainable Age”

NOSENE offers a wide range of sustainable options for the consumer: worn or upcycled clothes, natural and local cosmetics, ecological handbags or sneakers, beautiful recycled jewelry, books, recycled stockings and nylons and household cleaners. “Our production is not only local, but as close to being zero waste as is achievable, and we recycle most of our waste and up-cycle where possible.”

What does NOSENE mean and what was your concept when labelling your brand with it?

Katarína Hutyrová: NOSENE means “worn” in English. It is the new generation of second hand, it’s “shop that makes you feel good and sells clothes that smell wonderful”. The decision to buy an already used piece of clothing is a step towards supporting fashion sustainability. Fast fashion causes the clothing industry to produce waste, which often ends up on a junkyard, where it takes decades to decompose. In most cases, those are clothes that were worn only a couple of times, sometimes not even once.

In what way is your second hand brand different from the rest? What is unique about it and how do you nurture it?

KH: We change the way you feel in the second hand and how it looks. We select right pieces, have own upcyled collection RENEWALS BY NOSENE and bring choices how you can change your behaviour in sustainable livestyle

Why is secondhand consumption better as a lifestyle choice? What needs to be done in order to keep it in the loop of contemporary fashion developments?

KH: Every day millions of people buy clothes without any thought or remorse for the consequences of those purchases. Shopping is becoming “Americans’ favourite pastime.” Because it is one of the biggest environmental problems. More specific – second or third dirtiest industry in the world.

 

If there is one thing each one of us should start doing right now in order to save the planet, what would it be?

KH: Stop buying new clothes. Instead choose an already used piece or a local brand, take your own bottle, your own cup, buy less food or take a walk instead of traveling by car.

One misconception about the term sustainability?

KH: That I cannot change anything as an individual.

Your favourite book/movie on the subject you would recommend?

KH: David Attenborough – A life on our planet.

*Sustainable Practices in Design and Fashion is a series of discussions and presentations in five Bulgarian cities – Ruse, Burgas, Gabrovo, Varna and Plovdiv. The project is initiated by Liszt Institute – Hungarian Cultural Institute in Sofia and is curated by Studio Komplekt, who are also leading the discussions. The event introduces the general public to a variety of practices that formulate an important change in the industry towards greener production and consumption. Combining science, design, technology and media, they offer new, closer to nature models for the use of raw materials. Each of the selected Bulgarian cities is hosting a discussion on sustainability with two guest speakers from Europe, as well as a traveling exhibition with 24 examples of sustainable fashion and design brands from the Visegrad Group.

 

ANNUAL REVIEW

The beginning of the new year naturally encourages a revision of the past and throwing an optimistically realistic look at the future. Inevitably, we are reviewing what happened to us professionally in 2020. What a year! Among the worries and partings – alas, we had to close GENERATOR and empty our office – we somehow rode a lucky wave and joined in some truly amazing and meaningful professional adventures as well as continue our work on MELBA design initiatives.

HOMO FABER

This is a new online platform for European crafts, galleries and museums, which pays tribute to talent, preserves traditions and carries them into contemporary handmade objects. We have the responsibility and pleasure to offer and take care of the Bulgarian participants’ presentations and places, and their number is expected to continue to grow in 2021.

CINEMA

Or Creative Industries for New Urban Economies in the Danube Region is a two-year project of the Danube transnational program Interreg, in which the focus lays on finding methods and tools for renewal and active development of abandoned central urban areas through the involvement of creative industries. Studio Komplekt is a partner on Bulgarian side, along with the municipality of Gabrovo. We are working together to find suitable and long-term opportunities for the development of the District 6 in Gabrovo.

TEACH FOR BULGARIA

The popular and unique platform for the development of Bulgarian education “Teach for Bulgaria” marked its 10 year anniversary in 2020, which gave a serious reason for rebranding. We were invited to propose and communicate with a graphic design studio, which would transform and open new opportunities for the visual communication. The result is a dynamic, flexible and attractive identity that combines a variety of elements and meets the growing ambitions of the organization. Its authors are studio PUNKT.

<photo: Michail Novakov>

MELBA LIVE

This year we continued to hold meetings with local design heroes, albeit in an online format. Taking advantage of the imposed trends for ZOOM events, we presented exceptional specialists not only from Bulgaria, but also some based in other parts of the world, reaching a wider audience and archiving the lectures in our You Tube channel.

THIRD EDITION OF MELBA FESTIVAL

The lack of live interaction with the audience and the big halls filled with people was gravely missed, especially for the happening of the international symposium. But this did not make the third edition of the festival less valuable or uninteresting. Five great speakers took part in a live online session to openly and fascinatingly delver presentations about their creative path, visions and professional flashes. The Sofia audience was able to take a live and very real walk through the three exhibitions, specially arranged for the festival. – “Review of Bulgarian Design 2020 – New Models of Everyday”, “Illustrated Constitution” and “TestPress”. We were also able to realise an online class for creating a digital product.

We’ve said it before and won’t tire of repeating it – THANK YOU. To you – the audience – who follow and are excited about the topics of design, architecture and visual culture. To all participants and to our partners and supporters – Sofia Municipality Culture Program, National Culture Fund, Fashion Days, SiteGround, Next DC, Spanish Embassy, Irish Embassy, Czech Centre, Goethe Institut, Polish Institut, Bulgaria Air, IKEA, VIJ! Magazine, MD, Boyscout, UnderTheLine, Artakcia.

2021

It is safe to say that 2020 brought changes that are here to stay, especially in the sphere of organising hybrid events and its growing digitalisation. We hope to be able to continue to getting you in contact with the irreconcilable creative force that inspires the spirit and helps in difficulties, encourages us to be more humane, open to innovations and tuned in to the beauty around.

NEW MODELS OF EVERYDAY LIFE

The collective drive to invent a variety of small or grandiose solutions and gestures to improve everyday life stands out even more in the ubiquitous times of emergency. They come as a proof of the fantastic labor and creativity of designers to invent ways that can make us happy and be of serve for a long time. Their ideas draw new patterns of interaction with our environment, motivated by a common sense of valuable contribution.

We launch a new initiative-invitation to all designers – send your idea, prototype or already realised project that you would like to present to the world to power it with the opportunity for a more meaningful and better way of life, a certain solution to a current problem or with courage, hope and spontaneous joy. We welcome all design disciplines, and with no limits to creativity.

Why participate:

We’ll upload the project to our Facebook covers and share it on all our media (Instagram and website) with a short presentation. Some of the works will be selected for presentation in the third annual edition of the exhibition Review of Bulgarian Design, part of Melba – Sofia Design Festival in November 2020.

How to participate:

Send us your creative idea, prototype or already realised project related to the topic New Models of Everyday Life. The framework is wide and it can be anything – illustration, graphics, 3D print, intervention in an urban environment, product, prototype of a real product or application, media, provocation for a certain community, support for a small business, communication, identity, interactive experiment, digital museum … The important requirement is that you are a designer of Bulgarian origin, the idea is original, and related to the creation of design for the current world now.

And more specifically:

– all materials should be send to hello@studiokomplekt.com / subject Оpen Call New Everyday Models; 
– files should be mastered in well known formats like .pdf, .jpeg, .gif, or assembled in Dropbox, Google drive, similar type of online portfolio;
– short description: title of the idea, name of designer/studio + links (site, social media), up to five sentences on the story of the idea – the motivation behind it and how it can be developed in the future.

The invitation is open from today until the 19th of August 2020.

Thank you in advance for your participation and we remain available for questions.

Follow us – studiokomplekt.com and melba.bg and our social media for the development of the initiative:Instagram Studio Komplekt  / Facebook Studio Komplekt /  Instagram Melba / Facebook Melba.

BATTLE OF THE YEARS

Everything is going to be alright. This year as well. The conveniently timed days and months move us conveniently forward and give us an appropriate and supportive reason to be optimistic, to anticipate the coming and to analyse with a slight indulgence and peace the past. Here is what we were able to accomplish (of course, with the help of valuable associates and partners) in 2019, to close the year in peace and to step into the new decade with a foreseeable faith that we will crack those ambitious dreams and urgent tasks.

The Self-Initiated Projects

MELBA

Back in 2017 our professional life got a bit sweeter when we launched the design initiatives MELBA. In its full second year of existence we managed to enrich the dynamic Archive with new profiles of contemporary Bulgarian designers, managed to realize five events under the label Melba Live, two of which were outside of Sofia – in Plovdiv and in Burgas, as well as saw the second edition of the festival with stellar international participants.

The five editions of Melba Live welcomed great creatives presenting their inspiring work in various fields of design and sharing benevolently professional experience and insight. Those we were memorable ideas from the world of graphic design, illustration and animation, interiors and architecture, fashion and product design, typography and artistic installations. Every time the audience took away home a small present-memory from the event created by one of the lecturers and made possible by our partner Fashion Days.

Very soon we will announce the first for the year edition. In order to keep track of everything exciting around Melba – make sure to subscribe to our carefully curated and totally unobtrusive newsletter at melba.bg

The second edition of Мелба – Sofia Design Festival expanded its program with new formats such as film program (6 documentaries on design, architecture and art) and parties, moved the symposium to a larger hall in the National Palace of Culture, and saw a selection of 32 projects from the last year in the group exhibition Bulgarian Design Review 2019.

 


 

TAKE AWAY PLOVDIV

Over the last two years, we have been actively engaged in a challenging adventure with an unexpected end – the creation of new souvenirs by Bulgarian visual artists for the city of Plovdiv on the occasion of the title European Capital of Culture 2019. The invited creatives are covering different fields of artistic expression such as fashion, architecture, illustration, graphic design, photography… The project proved to be an important lesson and an interesting experiment for us – can we meet the requests of a typical souvenir format (small, portable, cheap, mass produced) and enrich it with a strong content and unique personality. The objects have been in distribution since April 2019 and can be viewed on the project site, as well as in selected locations for sale in Sofia and Plovdiv. The souvenirs also provoked an unintended and heated conversation in the national media over the lollipop, which mimics the Alyosha monument and is created by the duo Missirkov / Bogdanov. It provoked a discourse on the status of  the monuments from socialist past and their heritage in our society nowadays. It is with Take Away that we are nominated for the annual WhAT Association Architectural Awards in the category “Normality of the Year”. Our attempt to set a new format for the stereotypical souvenir image continues in our future initiatives.

 


 

COLLABORATIONS

GABROVO MUNICIPALITY

It is important for us to participate, encourage and support with all our might the attempts to make our living environment more meaningful, more understandable, more enjoyable, dignified and humane. The Municipality of Gabrovo invited us at the end of 2018 to initiate a long-term process of updating the visual communication of the municipality. The multilayered images and phrases associated with Gabrovo link the city to humour, to its industrial might in the past and to its central geographical location. Still undisputedly valid, however they are in need of reform and update in order to transform the image of the city into an adequate and attractive one for the current requirements of the times and addressing citizens, visitors and potential investors. In the first phase of this demanding and responsible process, we made an analysis of the attitudes through an informal survey and live meetings with citizens, an official national survey and a summary of the results, and set clear guidelines for the second step. You can find out more about it here.

 


HAVAS / BAUMIT – FACADE OF THE YEAR

The advertising agency Havas Worldwide Sofia invited us to work together on the grand-scale annual gala for their client Baumit Bulgaria. The bright and vibrant ceremony Facade of the Year celebrated and awarded the achievements of local architects, construction companies and investors and secured their subsequent participation in the international competition of the brand. We have selected a stellar team of contributors (thank you Georgi Tenev, Eva Ventova, Formatik, Plamen Bossev, Ivan Tsutsumanov, Kalin Nikolov, Milen Dankov, Beloslava and band, and to the presenters Stanislava Ivy and Dimitar Pavlov) for a true star finale of the year.

 


PARAGRAPH 42 / CANON BULGARIA

Canon Bulgaria and the PR agency Paragraph 42 invited us to lead the special launch of the brand’s large-format digital printing machines in front of a selected audience. It was our pleasure to work with arch. Mariana Sarbova, who presented one of her projects as an example of the possibilities of personalizing a creative idea through the technology on beautiful and still of limited popularity surfaces. In an article and live we talked about the attractiveness and uniqueness of such design and interior solutions.

 


PARTICIPATIONS

See It Be It Bulgaria

The female empowering format SeeItBeIt Bulgaria had us as their February lecturers. Following the leading theme “Women and culture”, we tried to present our position in the context of juggling and balancing professional dedication and personal life. The focus was the creative impetus behind our work, the visual culture as a platform for social uplift, the strong and independent women who raised us and obliterated the idea of gender inequality, and what we will pass on to our children (all girls) as an invisible code of valiant and dignified behavior.

Open Art Files: Notes and Footnotes

Culture had its momentum in Plovdiv last year and we are proud to have been part of it with both our self-initiated Take Away Plovdiv and with our selection in the group exhibition of Open Art Files: Notes and Footnotes at the Kapana Gallery. Our contribution was with the Bulgarian Design Review 2018, which we prepared for the first edition of Melba Festival. We thank the curator, Vera Mlechevska, and the organizer – Open Arts Foundation, for their collaborative and multidisciplinary look at issues related to our contemporary visual culture.

DARIK – 40 up to 40

Here we are among the selected Bulgarians with a positive contribution to society in season 6 of the initiative of the private national media DARIK – 40 up to 40. This undeniable honor is also accompanied by the unwavering responsibility of how we complete our work and how we develop it so that it makes sense for more people and makes a positive impact in their lives. We suggest you watch Boyana Gjaurova’s interview on the occasion here.

EVA Magazine

In its January issue 2020 the popular and well established magazine EVA selected as one of the 20 Bulgarian, “who in the next 12 months … will fulfil their dreams in 2020 and will change the situation in Bulgaria for the better.” We humbly thank the editorial team and hopefully meet these high expectations.

 


Studio Komplekt is proud to enter a new decade with the strong support and collaboration of our extended family and friends. Best wishes for the new year, and a sincere thank you to our 2019 creatives, collaborators, participants, members, supporters, and friends.

THANK YOU

To you. Your interest in our work is the food that gives us the strength and motivation to move forward.

To all our associates, participants and creators who embark with us on professional adventures with desire, patience and confidence. Without their participation in commissioned projects or exhibitions and lectures, our content would be meaningless.

To our funding supporters and friends. Your input is invaluable.

We are looking forward to what’s coming next and we will be happy to grow together.

Adriana Andreeva and Boiana Gjaurova | Studio Komplekt

MELBA FESTIVAL 2019

Mixing design disciplines and their reflection in our daily life it is again the core of the second edition of MELBA design festival. After a long preparation, we can now with excitement and pride share the first touches of the event program. The content is inspired by our desire to meet the audience with the qualitative, valuable, unusual, impactful and changing to a better, power of design.

The festival is structured in several basic formats:

International symposium with lectures by excellent specialists, fulfilling with knowledge and different perspectives on 9th of November /Saturday from 10:00 till 19:00 in Hall 6 at National Palace of Culture, Sofia. We are announcing the first four names of our guest lecturers, as each one of them has already left distinct and highlighting trace in contemporary visual culture. Especially for the symposium are arriving the founders and leaders of the Swiss typography studio Grilli Type, the brand identity specialists from Moscow – Shuka, and the multiple award-winning for its dedication to sustainability and organisation of material environment, Maarten Gielen from the Belgium collective ROTOR. For a first time we diversify the notion of design with a look at social activism through street art with the multimedia artist from Ireland – Joe Caslin. More details about these and other names in our program are coming soon.

As last years ambition to present significant and original projects of Bulgarian designers from the past year, we are again preparing selections of products and initiatives of forward-thinking creators in several major categories. The opening of the exhibition Review of Bulgarian design is on 7th of November, Thursday and it marks the beginning of the festival.

The new in this edition is a film program with a selection of documentaries about art and design. Among them are worldwide popular films, which will be presented for a first time in Sofia, for example Rams by Gary Hustwit with an ambitious portrait of the icon of product design Dieter Rams and the dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement – Bauhaus Spirit.  

Early bird tickets are on sale  – Festival ticket  is 100 leva and includes International Symposium, five documentary films and opening party with a DJ; and Symposium ticket that includes only symposium – 80 leva.  Tickets available HERE. Details will be revealed daily on the Facebook page and on melba.bg.

We will be waiting for you.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Melba Sofia Design Festival is part of MELBA design initiatives and are continuation of the launched in the end of 2017 by Studio Komplekt in partnership with NEXT-DC and Capital Program Culture ‘’Dynamic archive for Bulgarian design MELBA ‘’ melba.bg

International Symposium 9th of November 2019 | Saturday

Exhibition Review of Bulgarian design 2019 7th of November – 17th of November 2019

Film program 8-30 November 2019 at Generator

Idea and realization festival: Studio Komplekt

Co-organizer and visual identity: NEXT-DC

Partner Archive and Exhibition: Sofia Municipality Program Culture and SiteGround

Partners Symposium:

EpayGo

FontFabric

Embassy of Ireland Sofia

Polish Cultural Institute

Goethe Institut

Czech Center

Instituto Cervantes Sofia, Embassy of Spain

Goethe Institut

 

THE FUTURE OF DESIGN

Everything in life is designed according to someone’s vision for improving our lifestyle – home appliances, clothing, accessories and shoes, public and commercial spaces, mobile devices, applications and web sites. It is inconceivable to separate the present from the ubiquitous influence of design. Since when does the utilitarian and applied discipline attract so much attention, generate extreme opinions and put label of quality? Who determines what are the signs of good or bad design? Who decides what to preserve in our collective memory about the aesthetics, function and message we constantly handle and accept as the backdrop of the environment?

Design museums attempt to make order in these queries by presenting complex historical occurrences and doubtful future prognosis, by elaborating on both the origin of the laundry clip, the sign @ and the emoticons. Back in 1852 Victoria & Albert Museum mark the beginning of the design museums by establishing itself as the world’s first museum of applied art, founded as an attempt to collect wealth and demonstrate the progress of the British Empire after the Industrial Revolution. At the beginning of the 20th century, similar institutions appeared in different parts of the world, whose activities and programs sought knowledge of product, industrial, graphic, fashion, social design, architecture and others. There is currently a wave of new design museums, set in impressive and iconic buildings with characteristic collections that criticize trends through bold formats and invite visitors to know more about the subtle nuances of the discipline – such as the Museu del Disseny (Barcelona), the Design Museum Holon (Israel), OCT Design Museum (Shen Shan), M + (Hong Kong), 21_21 Design Sight (Tokyo) and others.

The Design Museum in London is a valuable navigation light among the vast amount of information about the history, the present and the future of design. Founded in 1989 by Sir Terrance Conran in a white three-story building on the banks of the River Thames, at the end of 2016 the museum moved to the renovated by architect John Pawson building of the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington.

Deyan Sudjic is director of the Design Museum since 2006. Born and raised in London, the direct Balkan association in the name comes as a legacy of his parents – immigrants from the former Yugoslavia. Sudjic studied architecture at the University of Edinburgh, but his commitment to the discipline subsequently shifted entirely to writing and curatorial activities. Sudjic’s career covers journalism, teaching and writing. Highlights include Glasgow’s 1999 annual initiative: UK City of Architecture and Design, curator of the Venice Biennale of Architecture (2002), editor of Domus Magazine (2000-2004) and author of design and architecture books, which have become indispensable references (The Language of Things, The Language of Cities, B Is for Bauhaus and many others).

As creators of the series DESIGN IS for Generator, we were honoured to have Mr. Sudjic for a live lecture on the future of design. Below are some the themes he touched upon in his analysis of the various aspects of the discipline.

On the subject of design:

Design is not a thing, it’s a method and it’s a lens to understand the world around us.

When the design museum was first launched back in the 1980s, you could have charted the history of industrial design through a selection of well chose chairs,  starting with the first industrially proiduced pieces in bentwood made by Thonet in Austria, then a tubular steel cantilever from Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus, maybe  an Alvar Aalto in laminated plywood, a Charles Eames lounge chair, a plastic inection moulded chair from Joe Colombo, and so on. They would tell a technological and an aesthetic story, and though its not  primarily a story about taste, they would also make it clear that “function” is a much more complicated idea than simple utility, comfort is not an objective quality, it is influence by how things look, the associations that certain shapes and colours have.

Since those days, design is more and more about non material things. The smart phone has abolished the camera, the music player, the GPS, the tape recorder, the map, the book, the book shelf, and the book store, the alarm clock. A software upgrade can have the effect of creating an entirely new appliance.

There are also fluctuations in how designers see themselves,. When I was very young, people read Victor Papanek, who as violently opposed to design as a marketing tool used to persuade us to buy stuff we did not need, Then we had the emergence of the  superstar designer, whose signature alone was presumed to justify the price, and now another generation see papanek as a hero, hate the idea of consumerism, see design as a social project, or a critical one, and understand design as much a matter of asking questions as of answering them. What interests me at the moment is the idea of the home, We see it as a permanent, solid unchanging place that allows us to be ourselves, but in fact it is changing as fast as every other aspects of out lobes.

On new technologies:

Amazon has transformed the way that we consume, killing off a lot of shopping malls and department stores, and it is also inviting use to allow total strangers into our homes using digital locks to make deliveried direct to our refrigerates, through Alexa and the Echo voice recognition system it has started the beginning of the end of the key board as the prime ey that we interface with the digital world, potentially as huge a development as the smart phone.

And the pace of change is accelerating,  Facebook’s hеadquarters in Silicon Valley is in a building that once housed the hq of Sun Microsystems, a company that, like so many tech companies was started by Stanford graduate students,  but from an earlier generation, the 1980s. Sun grew into a huge international company with tens of thousands of employees, built is building not much more than a dozen years ago, then vanished,. Facebook’s designers treated it like a relic from the industrial revolution and trashed it.

Meanwhile the work place is looking more and more like the domestic world. The new silicon valley offices are full of pool tables  and sofas, and kitchen tables and chairs that don’t match.

Social media have abolished the idea of privacy, and in some ways pushed us back into the middle ages with twitter acting as a kind of digital lynch mob.

 

On the future of design:

I  always remember the remark once made by Buckminster Fuller, the maverick American engineer, inventor and home spun philosopher best known for the geodesic dome, “the best way to predict the future is to design it yourself” I am not sure that Fuller always got things right – his three wheel Dymaxion Car was an instant failure when it  crashed into a pedestrian on its launch at the Chicago Worlds Fair. One person who certainly designed the future was Steve Jobs, but even he, just eleven years ago when he launched the first Apple Smart Phone could not, I think have predicted how that one pocket sized object was going to change everything, Without the smart phone there would be no Uber, , no Tinder no AirBnB  They have transformed the way that we fall in love, how we navigate the city, and the character of entire cities. Barcelona, New York and San Francisco are all horrified at the impact on rents caused by the way.

About the role of the design museum:

The design museum in London sees its role as showing everyone the value of design, we have built a large audience: one million people have visited us since we opened in november 2016,  we stage exhibitions that range from the fashion of Azzedine Alaia, to the design of the Ferrari.

We communicate through our temporary exhibtions, we are careful about what we collect, because for us we want to be able to show them, not to hide them in a vault, A collection is costly to maintain and archive, and since we are  private charity rather than a state supported institution we have to be careful about how we use our resources.

A lot of people are opening museums about: Barcelona, Shenzen, for example, Until now, design has had a presence  in museums either as a department in big general museums, or else as small and specialst. What we see now is a sense that design is as much a part of the wider cultural landscape as art.

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING GOOD

At the beginning of the new year, we throw backwards glances and reflections while considering a hopeful step into 2017. 

2016 has been our second year as Studio Komplekt and we were enormously lucky to partner with role-model designers, companies, institutions and organisations in order to achieve an important progress in what we do. Overall we had quite a diverse and interesting menu of projects:

 

12696975_10153380683048317_4303296347791629477_o

We kicked off the year with Bold & Beautiful a one-day event in February for our favourite local producer of natural and clean food – Harmonica.

 

12045612_1272212562806288_5304227688345755327_o

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-10-11-10-am

In March we had the pleasure to arrange in a pop-up exhibition GILTIG by IKEA in Gallery 2.0 and lead the discussion on the presentation of the collection. At the end of August we were invited to host the launch of the new IKEA catalogue in Sofia.

 

 

13103444_1301348096545175_8843278566379804579_n

Spring was busy and culminated in several activities in June, starting with Absolut Creative Space – the first of its kind festival in Sofia on creativity and sustainability hosted by Absolut Bulgaria. Our task was content creation and coming up with a variety of formats like lectures by international and local creatives (among whom one of the founders of the famous It’s Nice That creative platform), demonstrations, special projects, workshops, exhibitions, discussions and various presentations. You can read more about it here.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-5-19-39-pm

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-5-21-05-pm

The international festival on design and visual culture One Design Week contacted us to arrange Bulgarian design on the vitrines of 13 Plovdiv shops on the central street – Additions – new Bulgarian design on a shop window. We also had the honour to continue for a second consecutive year the exhibition Diploma project. This time we put a focus on the extremely talented illustrator Maria Nalbantova and her Black Bears for White Days, White Bears for Black Days pop-up picture book.

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-5-22-59-pm

maxresdefault

It has been an utmost pleasure to select some of our favourite book titles on design for a great project called Design Bookery, initiated by Next-DC and thoughtfully supported by Lidl Bulgaria. It was presented in Plovdiv and Sofia during the summer months.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-5-29-06-pm

After a short break during which we both managed to road-trip in Italy and walk on the fantastic Floating Piers by Christo and get architectural insights by the 15th Architecture Biennale in Venice, we got back on intense work schedule and collaborated with the international summer program for creative thinking and design processes Know-How / Show-How, supporting them for their PR and moderating the Podium RE-Connect / Object in Context with participants like Linda van Deursen (Graphic design studio Mevis & van Deursen, Amsterdam), Dr. Clémentine Deliss and Jurgen Bey (Studio Makkink & Bey, NL).

Autumn hit us with two major projects: the self initiated Take Away Sofia and the commissioned by Next-DC and Finlandia vodka Cabinets of Wisdom.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-3-55-52-pm

unnamed

In Cabinets of Wisdom we had to think of a concept in which Finnish artists ( Antti Kalevi | Eero Lampinen | Iina Vuorivirta | Kirsi EnkovaaraMarjukka TakalaSaana ja Olli) interpret Bulgarian proverbs. The resulting works varied in form and character but were united by the exposition design — six contemporary cabinets of curiosity constructed by Bulgarian stage artist Eva Ventova. The exhibition was open for ten consecutive days and was a total blast, accompanied by cocktails and music, of course.

14681593_877342305733095_1770127445190757617_n

Take Away Sofia is a self-initiated project, supported by the Sofia Municipality Culture Program 2016, which saw the realisation of eight prototypes for new souvenirs for Sofia. We invited current designers working in various fields of the profession like fashion, textile, illustration, graphic design, jewellery, ceramics, etc. in order to present their views on the contemporary image of the Bulgarian capital in the ubiquitously spread form of the souvenir. The project took the form of an exhibition, which was shown at Prague’s DesignBlok and in Sofia where it was accompanied by lectures, showcases and workshops. Take Away Sofia has the ambition to evolve into a fully-functioning brand. Rolling our sleeves and making it happen in 2017.

 

14265010_10157553019175165_2078460378200382758_n

On our journalistic side, we saw three of our articles on the covers of LIGHT. And continued (even though not so regularly as we wished) to fill in our magazine section.

 

fullsizerender_1

Thank you for hanging out with us. We will continue to contribute modestly but productively to developing and supporting a more meaningful and working design scene here. Among our most aspiring projects for 2017 is the launch of an on-line dynamic platform for presenting Bulgarian designers and architects called MELBA, once again supported by the Sofia Municipality. Another major stepping stone for our work in 2017 is the opening of GENERATOR – a new model space for collaborations where transformation happens through design. We are realising it with our partners from Creative Mornings SofiaCreative Shower. Stay tuned. Exciting times are ahead.

Wishing you great adventures and good deeds in the new year.

TRAVELLING COUNTRY

Our article on the story behind the new short animated movie by Vessela Dancheva and Ivan Bogdanov got picked up for a cover of the latest issue of Capital LIGHT. The13 minutes non-dialogue, picturesque narration revolves around the extreme limits of personal freedom and one’s place in a society, sometimes lead by an unsuitable leader ruining its very foundations. Our focus was more on the visual representation of the characters and the artistic director – the talented Rossitsa Raleva. We also touched upon the music, carried by the magic Bulgarian voices of ‘Eva Quartet’ and ‘Yulangelo Ensemble’. It’s a fantastic animated tale about seeking one’s true identity and freedom.

The movie is co-produced by the Croatian Bonobostudio and is already amassing awards at the festivals. Take a look at the trailer of Travelling Country – here.

The full version of the article can be read in our column for Capital LIGHT in print and on-line.

MODERN LOVE

Love is that powerful force that has always intrigued people, regardless of time, space and place. Musicians berime it in songs, artists immortalise it in paintings and the editors of The New York Times masterfully channel it in the column Modern Love, which has been captivating millions of readers worldwide for 12 years now.

We catch up with two of the main figures behind it – editor Daniel Jones and illustrator Brian Rea whose visuals have become an inseparable part of the column.

BRIAN REA:

> How did you get started drawing? Do you remember if you loved to draw as a child? Where did you study? What was your first job?
Brian Rea: I recall drawing as a child- mostly coloring. Seemed to be something I was constantly doing. My parents were not very artistic, but they were incredibly supportive. I studied illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art. My first “job” was in high school- I did drawings on kids jeans jackets- mostly rock band logos. Def Leppard was my specialty.
> Was there a particular moment when you realised you’d “made it”? What were you doing at the time?
Brian Rea: It was more panic than pride- When I was hired as an art director at the New York Times, I remember my first day of work repeating to myself “holy hell…can I do this?”  Resting at the top of the trail is not something I do. I’m too afraid I’ll fall off the mountain.
> What’s your proudest project to date? And why?
Brian Rea: The Malcolm Gladwell Collected art box set is a project that helped take my work in a new direction. Some of the recent animation collaborations I’ve worked on with the great designer Pablo Delcan have also allowed me to explore storytelling in new visual ways.
> What do you find the most challenging aspects of your work? And the industry you work in?
Brian Rea: I’m incredibly lucky to be able to paint and draw for a living- so whatever challenges I may find in my daily work, they’re pretty insignificant.
> How did you get involved with NY Times Modern Love column? When was that and what were you doing at the moment? Do you recall your first essay and illustration accompanying it?
Brian Rea: I received an email from the art director Corinne Myler. She was interested in taking the art for the Modern Love column in a new direction and asked if I’d be interested in working on it. We discussed how best to approach the column visually and how I might tackle a long term series on love. We agreed to 3 things: no hearts in the work, no relying on hand lettering in the images and treat each image as a parallel story to the essay. The first one I worked on I believe was about a father and daughter- I don’t recall the specifics of the essay, but I do remember the art having a young girl looking on from a doorway as her father played an accordion. It was about 6 years ago.
> What is the hook / the idea that you look for when reading an essay in order to make one illustration out of it?
Brian Rea: My approach has always been to match the tone and emotion of each writer’s essay with the story in my image. If I can elicit the same emotional level in the image as the essay, then I feel like I’ve done my job.
> Have you received complaints from the authors that the drawing does not correspond to their story? If yes, on what occasions?
Brian Rea: Most writers have been very supportive and are more curious about how I will portray them in the illustrations. I did receive a lengthy email from a very committed reader who critiqued my illustrations since the beginning of my time on the column. She described in detail how my work had evolved over the 5-6 years. The takeaway was that she preferred my earlier work. I love anyone that passionate about anything.
> What is your favourite love story so far and which one would you recommend to our readers?
Brian Rea: Each essay has the chance to touch us in different ways- I’ve had pieces that made me laugh, made me think, made me change my own behaviour and certainly have made me cry. I’ve met some of the writers and chatted about how my illustrations have affected them and how their essays affected me. I’ve laughed at a story about a woman who REALLY loved her pet turtle and shared emails with an 80 something year old essayist who wrote a loving column about marrying her now deceased 90 year old marathon running sweet heart. That’s what the column is about really- making us think about our own relationships and our own lives and how important we are to each other. At least, that’s what I take away from reading the column each week.
> Have you thought of contributing your own Modern Love story to the column with a pseudonym – what would it be about?
Brian Rea: I have thought about it, but I’m not a very skilled writer. If I did, it would be the story of meeting my wife- you’ll have to wait to read it.
> Is there one thing that really motivates and assures you to keep doing what you do?
Brian Rea: Three things: Passion, emotions and an audience that hopefully connects to the work.
DANIEL JONES:
> When did the Modern Love column start? What prompted it? Who was behind the idea? Do you recall what was the first published essay?
Daniel Jones: The first Modern Love column appeared on October 31, 2004, and it was the idea of Trip Gabriel, who then edited Sunday Styles in the New York Times. He had read essay anthologies that my wife, Cathi Hanauer, and I had edited: his and hers tell-all books about the stresses of modern marriage. Hers was called “The Bitch in the House”; mine, “The Bastard on the Couch.” He wanted stories like ours in his section on a weekly basis, so he hired us, as a couple to create “Modern Love” (named after David Bowie’s song). The first essay was by a writer named Steve Friedman who kept getting turned down by women – his life story!
> How did the column evolve? What is the one thing that never changed?
Daniel Jones: What never changes is how it is to find and build lasting relationships. What also never seems to change is our expectation that true love should feel natural and be easy. There will be problems. Life is messy.
> How many submissions do you receive in a month? Do you track how many people read the column and in how many countries?
Daniel Jones: We receive about 600 submissions a month for 4 spots. We do track how many people read the column and how much time they spend reading it but we don’t release such figures. I can tell you that the most popular column we have ever run – “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” – reached more than 10 million readers, and that essay, combined with its sidebar (a list of questions) reached more than 16 million readers who collectively spent more than 160 years of time reading those two pages. It was the most popular article to appear in the New York Times in 2015.
> How many people are involved in the NY Times team working on the realisation of the Modern Love section? I notices that you have launched also a podcast –  is there anything else new in your plans for the near future?
Daniel Jones:The column has one editor, me, and a deputy Styles editor who oversees my work. The column is then read by two copy editors, an online editor and an art director. We have an illustrator. For the podcast, which is brand new and quite successful, remaining in the Top 5 on iTunes since its launch three weeks ago, we have three producers, two hosts, and many technical people. I may be biased, but I think the podcast is phenomenal.
> On the visual part: why did you choose to work with Brian Rea? How do you realise the videos – how do you choose which story is for a video project and which not, how do you select/invite the artists for the videos?
Daniel Jones:I didn’t choose Brian – the art director did. But his smart, playful and beautiful illustrations have come to define and identify the column as much as anything else. The video animation project has come to an end. It was gorgeous and nominated for an Emmy but we can only do so much for so long.