MELBA delivered what it promised. A full 10 days program with creative activities, bringing to the capital local and international design heroes as participants.

The fourth edition of the festival put on focus valuable and exciting content that engages audiences and reveals the power of design to contribute to the development and transformation of society for the better. The program included:

An International Symposium live in a hall (The Steps) and online via a direct streaming. The six incredible experts from Europe, Aiden McCall, Hector Ayuso, Claudia Schwartz, Mila Lozanova, Patrick Harjey, Edward Hermmann and Matthew Coufal immersed us in their fascinating professional stories about how design highlights and archives changes in society, about the power of emotions, about projects changing fashion, ecology and the choices we make every day, about the artistic approach and the ensuing collaborations, about heritage in graphic signs and logos, as well as about the production of furniture in different models and with personal participation.

This year we embarked on perhaps one of our favourite and most important curatorial projects – the exhibition “REVIEW OF BULGARIAN DESIGN”. We try to present the current state and direction of development of the discipline in our country through very different as a field, but equally valuable as a reflection projects. The leading direction in our selection this year was the topic of the value of design and what actually lies behind the creation of a product – from the origin of an idea, through the long journey of prototyping and experimentation, to reaching consumers. We invite you to view and get acquainted with the stories of the 11 participants here.

Three more exhibitions, located in central Sofia galleries with open access, involved visitors in a dialogue about the impact of design in everyday life – through the trend of do-it-yourself furniture in “NOMAD.Herrmann&Coufal” (Czech Center), important production trends of local character, thinking about the environment and preserving the high aesthetics in “SUSTAINABLE DESIGN AND FASHION in the countries of the Visegrad Group” (Opening Soon) to trends in product design in “THE FUTURE OF LIVING“. Contemporary Slovenian design” (SKLADA). 

Involving the general public in the topics of reuse and smarter use of materials was realized through two workshops open to everyone. The Czech award-winning duo Herrmann & Coufal personally showed the participants in Do It, Use It how to assemble a lamp, and the Bulgarian designerNeva Balnikova redesigned old vinyls into memorable and attractive new bags.  

The festival was happy to organise and host a very special edition of the global creative formatCreativeMornings Sofia. For the first time, the local team was the author of the monthly theme both as a concept and as a visual, the latest by the talented and versatile artist Sevda Semer. November was marked by the theme Liminal – a Latin word for threshold, and its interpretation. Other 224 cities in 67 countries were discussing the theme and using Sevda Semer’s artwork. As an additional gesture, we also produced cards with her visual interpretation of Liminal as a souvenir.

We were especially happy and proud for the opportunity to hold an open panel on “Sustainable Design Practices”. We introduced the audience to three European companies that are leading an important change in the industry towards greener production and consumption. Combining science, design and technology, they offer new, closer to tradition, local resources and nature models for the use of raw materials. Sara Kele (Hungary), Josh Brito (founder of MakeGrowLab, Poland) and Atanas Enev (founder of Biomyc, Bulgaria) presented their work. There was also a special demonstration of B2N’s Ultimaker S5, the 3D printer used by Biomyc. We recommend that you watch a video of the lectures here.

In collaboration with the mobile payment app Settle for the first time, we launched an open invitation calling for everyone with interest and courage to visually interpret the theme “The Money of the Future” to get involved. The competition gathered over 70 participants, and the awarded 21 projects received both cash prizes and the opportunity to present themselves on the festival website. You are able to view this surprising digital exhibition here and read more about the concept of the selected designers.

We pay special attention to the festival website and overall visual identity. NEXT-DC team surpassed themselves in imagination and realisation to give a strong language and memorable design to this fourth edition. The jars filled with the much loved and famous pickles sour salad appeared in digital and printed form and captured the hearts and eyes of all.


Our work would not be possible without the support of partners and like-minded people who find meaning and value in our initiatives. We thank them equally as the participants and the audience. We are proud to have met up close and worked with wonderful people who helped make the 10 days of design in Sofia particularly invigorating. Until next year.