MARINA DRAGOMIROVA

A non-negligible advantage in the development of Marina as a young designer is her education – she graduated from the Royal College of Art, London. Afterwards she remained in London, one of the major capitals of creativity. Marina is still very young, but with some memorable and powerful realized ideas and implemented projects. Even though she is away from home and travels a lot, her Bulgarian origin is strongly weaved in her work through national elements inherent to Bulgarian national culture and aesthetics.

Tell us a bit about yourself:
Born in Plovdiv, studied graphic and spacial design in Sofia at New Bulgarian University, afterwards I went to study at Royal College of Art, product design.  Being a product designer enables me to understand the world around me.

 

Do you remember what you dreamt of becoming when you were a child?
I don’t remember having anything particular in mind. I really loved doing things with my hands.

 

Is there anyone in particular who has influenced your professional development?
A lot of different people and various books. One of my early memories goes back to a show on the German TV, which was presenting culture events and artists. In one of the episodes they were talking about a sculptor (unfortunately I don’t remember her name), who was working on one of her metal sculptures in her yard. I think this was the first time that the thought of doing something similar crossed my mind as being suitable for me.

 

How would you describe your work?
Predominantly influenced by the processes I use. To me how things look is the result of how they are made and this is important to be represented in my work.

 

Tell us more about your work process:
I have a studio, which I share with my partner Ian Howlett. More and more I work during regular working times, because my work requires communication with clients, partners and producers. But the really interesting part starts when the e-mails and the phone are quiet. This is creation time for me. I try to transfer part of the production of my items in Bulgaria, which requires often traveling.
I often find myself working with markings – like weaving and other processes related to the construction of the structure out of fiber. Also, a lot of the times I end up using metal, and  just rarely wood.

 

Who are some of the other Bulgarian designers whose work you admire and follow?
All of the Composites participants. Konstantin Achkov and others.

 

What is the professional achievement you are most proud of? 
Two participations at Milano Design Week are a good achievement at the moment. But I am still expecting new ones.

 

What is your dream project?
I love working with light. Up to now, I have worked on several projects for lamps. But recently i have started researching the aspect of day light and how it could be developed.

 

What are some of your most recent plans and projects?
Showing my new collaboration pieces with Ian Howlett. We have worked with different manufacturers of hand blown glass, CNC and led diodes.

 

What do you expect from your Milano participation?
Mostly a dialogue on the themes of textiles, traditions and their contemporary interpretations.

RAYA STEFANOVA

Living Soil is the graduation work of Raya Stefanova, who spent the last four years at the Academy of Design in Eindhoven, specialty Man and well-being in the class of Studio Formafantasma. In her work she focuses more on the careful study of a topic, rather than the production of a specific product. The latter is a carrier of her message and her idea to transform the status quo. So her work often goes beyond purely functional formats to provoke reflection.

Tell us a bit about yourself:
I was born in Kazanluk and graduated the Eindhoven Design Academy. It was a natural path to take as my parents are also designers.
Do you remember what you dreamt of becoming when you were a child?
Designer.
Is there anyone in particular who has influenced your professional development?
The environment, in which I’ve lived, along with the people, books, events, music that are part of it.
How would you describe your work?
A keep a humanitarian approach to my work, or at least this what I strive at.
Tell us more about your work process:
I still don’t have a certain stereotype that I follow. You could say that I am in the process of searching, constantly experimenting and trying new things and everything is a bit chaotic, so it’s still impossible to put it in a frame.
Who are some of the other Bulgarian designers whose work you admire and follow?
I try to follow everything new related to the local cultural scene, even though I’m not always based in Bulgaria.
What is the professional achievement you are most proud of? 
As I graduated recently, so far my biggest achievement is the successful graduation and in the four-year frame of the program, which is a rare thing for the Academy students. Otherwise I was very nicely surprised to see my project Living Soil featured in a photo session of Kinfolk magazine.
What is your dream project?
Not one, but many and various. But since my first year at the Academy I dream of making something related to the design education in Bulgaria, something that I will enrich the overall understanding and perception of design, one that will influence the young creatives and those around them.
What are some of your most recent plans and projects?
I work on several personal projects, but think more about collective work and collaborations.
What do you expect from your Milano participation?
Composites is a collective presentation and this is how I look at it. I think it is highly important for Bulgarian product design to be presented here and to be put against the international context of this important event. It will be useful for the participants, and hopefully for the Bulgarian audience as well.

NEVA BALNIKOVA

Neva Balnikova has an easily recognizable and an inimitable style – unorthodoxic combinations of materials, forms and messages to deliver the statement piece you would wear or just admire. As she is a self-taught designer, Neva spends a considerable amount of time analyzing and researching technologies of work. Neva’s power is the unusual idea that comes in the form of brooches, necklaces, rings and bracelets. To develop and successfully push forward her projects, she relies on various collaborations with other artists, jewelers and gallerists.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m Neva from Sofia. I studied at a language school, after which I switched to visual art, specialty animation. I don’t know what provoked me to become a designer, may be the discontent of my poor drawing skills.

Do you remember what you dreamt of becoming when you were a child?

At 6 I wanted to work at the National Bulgarian Bank and deal with banking.

Is there anyone in particular who has influenced your professional development?

My diverse family background of friends with different talents, interests and thoughts. I have seen experienced examples how spaces, objects or clothes can be changed if you have the proper feeling for details, for example the use of lighting, a mirror or even just a button.

How would you describe your work?
My works are big, sometimes they irritate with their weight, the play with the senses of the viewer, sometimes you can place them at your table as a monument. I try to present an aesthetic that is on the one hand is natural, rough and uncouth, but on the other hand is convenient to use. The recent tendency in design and architecture is minimalism, however, in a jewellery piece the connection between nature, earth and cosmos should be visible. It should contain pomp, richness and constant movement.
Tell us more about your work process:
I count on good organisation. The time that is invested into the idea sometimes is less than the one needed to fill in the gaps for realizing the details. I work at my studio alone, which is part of my home. But various parts of the work are sometimes are in the hands of certain specialists. The drawing helps me remember the elements, but in other cases I start right with the material itself. Nevertheless, experimenting is the best process and does not recognize exact time exact time as a concept.
Who are some of the other Bulgarian designers whose work you admire and follow?
Raya Stefanova, Rrrub and Garderob, Nikolay Sardamov, Tzvetelina Alexieva, Lubri, Yana Lozeva, Michail Novakov, Missirkov/Bogdanov, Hristo Savov, Iskra Blagoeva, Stefan Nikolaev, Stella Vassileva, Ani Vasseva.
What is the professional achievement you are most proud of? 
I currently find happiness in various forms of collaborations. This approach is new to me and apart from that – is an example of communication and finding a richer common language. A successful realization of a project is when ideas continue to live and evolve and infect other followers and supporters, find their material use so that they are not encapsulated and left isolated under a blanket.
What is your dream project?
I’d like to create artificial mutations of typical household items. Items we cannot live without but we often forget to see, even though they are in constant use, which leads to rapid wearing out and comic developments.
What are some of your most recent plans and projects?
They are all related to development.
What do you expect from your Milano participation?
I’m interested in the criticism that my work will meet there.