Local Beauty. Review of Bulgarian Design 2022.

Studio Komplekt continues its series of reviews of the current state of Bulgarian design, which has become a traditional annual practice since the first edition of the festival. The group show brings together some of the notable manifestations of the discipline through projects in various fields of design. For the first time the show is curated by Marina Dragomirova, Studio Furthermore.

The exhibition LOCAL BEAUTY will open on November 3. at KO-OP Gallery (17. Yanko Sakuzov Blvd.) at 7.00 PM and will run through MELBA Design Festival 2022.

with: Dimitar Stankov, Maria Jekova, Raya Stefanova, Nikoleta Nosovska, Lyouba Assadourova, Milen Radev, Neva Balnikova, Yana Yunakova and Dani Yordanova

Curatorial text:

The exhibition LOCAL BEAUTY gives an overview of different, authentic Bulgarian localities. We are invited to see them through the eyes of nine artists who have created works with regional materials, resources and traditions especially for the occasion. Each of them works with different textures and a unique personal handwriting – be it the deep pitch of the bagpipe, captured in the form of a jewel by Dimitar Stankov, or the taste achieved through an old Rhodope wheat storage technique, which Maria Jekova recreates. Raya Stefanova builds two fountains based on the typical Bulgarian roadside fountains, using beeswax instead of concrete, while the dancing “kukeri” superheroes of Nikoleta Nosovska bring new life to the ceramic plates from childhood. Lyuba Asadurova creates a contemporary trail-carpet of sheep’s wool. Milen Radev’s lighting bodies are carved from stone he found in the Rhodope Mountains. The experimental reuse of car headlights by Neva Balnikova was inspired by a local car component recycling company. Yana Yunakova unravels an old mountain technique from glass beads, which she interprets in a new ceramic form, while Dani Yordanova literally bottles the essence of the region in a flavor extracted from nature. In each of the works we find something familiar, but seen and rethought through an unfamiliar perspective.

About Marina Dragomirova

Marina Dragomirova was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. After completing her bachelor in Graphic Design followed by Interior design at New Bulgarian University, she continued her education at the Royal College of Art in London. There she met Iain Howlett and in 2015 they cofounded Studio Furthermore in Shoreditch, London.

* The exhibition is realized with the kind support of the National Culture Fund – Program Visual Arts.

6 Ideas for District 6

One of CINEMA’s pilot locations – District 6 in Gabrovo, Bulgaria – was put on the spotlight as part of the seventh edition of Gabrovo Innovation Camp 22 (19 to 21 October 2022). Organised by Gabrovo Municipality in partnership with the JRC and European Committee of the Regions, the initiative, titled Resilient Cities, gathered in person at the Humour House Museum 60 participants from Gabrovo, Bulgaria and Europe. Thanks to the support and with the participation of representatives of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, the Camp combined a conference with several lecture and discussion panels followed by 2 days of intensive work. The ethos of knowledge exchange and cooperation served as a capacity building element for the participants. The ideas marathon was structured in 4 thematic challenges: Bauhaus in re-/co-designing the cities, Mission-based climate neutral transition, Youth Entrepreneurship for digital future and Innovation and inclusivity for Gabrovo S3 implementation.

The legacy of CINEMA found a worthy continuation in the first challenge of the camp –  Bauhaus in re-/co-designing the cities. Different stakeholders and specialists were provoked to think about District 6 in terms of its future development and how the efforts for its transformation could be continued in a persistent and successful way.

The working group comprised of about 15 people with different professional backgrounds from Gabrovo, Sofia, The Netherlands and Italy. Two of the active leaders in the group were CINEMA’s partners Milka Kehayova of Gabrovo Municipality and Adriana Andreeva of Studio Komplekt. As insiders for the challenge they were steering the group to think in terms of community, entrepreneurship and collaborations. The result was a most detailed and plausible concept for the restoration of District 6 and turning it into a vibrant urban spot for new businesses and creative interventions.

It has been agreed that in order to continue what has been started as a process during the CINEMA project, the following 6 step project has to be adopted:

  • a long-term commitment by the local government to further support the already inaugurated urban revitalisation of District 6;
  • the nurturing of private-public collaboration through existing or new incentives (EU programs, Municipal programs, International open calls, etc.);
  • establishing a hub in District 6, run by a specially appointed community manager and supported by a designated team of specialists comprising of municipal staff (legal advisor, accountant, architect, etc.), independent experts (communication, visual identity, content creation) and an advisor board;
  • securing a convenient location for the hub in District 6 as a source of information and first-hand communication with locals, interested parties and visitors; 
  • building a strong and sustainable year-long program (pop-up events, workshops, markets, festivals, community dinners, etc) involving various stakeholders, inside and outside of Gabrovo collaborators, regulated by the opinion of the people living and working in District 6;
  • securing a communication campaign dedicated to District 6, advertising its opportunities and events; visual identity – easily recognisable and adaptable to different content, message carrier and situation; 
  • ameliorating the urban environment (street furniture, well thought artistic interventions, etc.) and the walkability within the neighbourhood without hampering the services of the existing businesses and taking into consideration their and the citizens’ needs; 
  • specific agreement between Ministry of Culture, National Institute of Cultural Heritage and Gabrovo Municipality in order to restore the dilapidated and in ruins privately owned houses in District 6; subsequently offering these to new tenants (SMEs);
  • cross-sectorial, transnational and international collaboration on a larger scale in order to inspire and trigger reciprocal activities in other neighbourhoods and to further strengthen the position of District 6 as a most potent ground for innovative experiments.

Following the presentation, the Mayor of Gabrovo Tanya Hristova pledged to adopt the idea and implement it in the Municipality’s next year budget and plans. We will follow eagerly this promised development.

International Melba Symposium 2022

For the fifth year in a row, the International Symposium with lectures by leading designers in their field, forms the core of the MELBA Design Festival!

On Saturday, November 5, 11:00 AM live at “Toplocentrala” or online, those who have purchased tickets for the lectures will be able to learn

first-hand about current trends in product, digital and graphic design, illustration and visual communication.

The renowned design specialists selected as speakers this year are:

Mateusz Machalski (Poland)

Graphic designer, author of over 40 font families, numerous corporate and multi-font typefaces and more than 150 visual identities for companies, institutions and events. Designer of the year in the Polish Graphic Design Awards (2019). Co-author of TYPOTEKA.PL – the Polish typographic directory and coordinator of numerous exhibitions and cultural events.

Holly Pereira (Ireland)

Skillfully juggles between illustration, animation and mural. Her work is colourful, bold and highly expressive. Her murals often reference folk art and typography, weaving specific stories through careful selection of colours and motifs. Holly Pereira has talked about her work in institutions like the National Gallery of Ireland and the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. She is also a proud member of The Minaw Collective, an all-female street art collective based in Ireland.

Adam Štěch (Czech Republic)

Curator, journalist and theorist with great experience in design, architecture and visual arts. Co-founder of the creative group OKOLO, with which he has been observing and researching the various manifestations of design since 2009, and prepared dozens of publications and exhibitions in the Czech Republic and internationally. He is the author of a number of texts on design and architecture, as well as the book Modern Architecture and Interiors for Prestel (2020).

DUMBAR/DEPT® (Netherlands)

The work of one of the most awarded design agencies internationally – from its founding in 1977 by Dutch graphic designer Gert Dumbar until now – will be presented by Liza Enebis, Creative Director, and Wanwai Shum, graphic designer at Studio Dumbar.


GUNIA Project was created in 2017 by Natasha Kamenska and Maria Gavryliuk with a mission to preserve Ukrainian national values, to modernize Ukrainian art and show the world the beauty of Ukraine by highlighting handmade crafts like decorative paintings, ceramics, wicker weaving, and embroidery. Gunia Project is a brand of exceptional things produced on the basis of traditional ethnic cultures.By last year their items were presented for Pope Francis, Emperor of Japan, Brigitte Macron and many more.

Eli Gutiérrez (Spain)

Eli Gutiérrez is a cosmopolitan designer, born in Valencia. In 2016, Eli founded her own multidisciplinary design studio between Paris and Valencia, focusing on product design, interior design, installations and concept creation, making designs for brands and companies such as Missana, Black Tone by JMM, Cimenterie de La Tour, Chevalier Edition, Geelli, Mad Lab, and NT Forest and Signorini Rubinetterie among others.There is an identity in her work that emphasizes the function, the material and the detail.

* Buy your ticket for the live event here: https://rebrand.ly/3wdbip2

** To watch the symposium online, buy a ticket here: https://rebrand.ly/3wdbip2

All lectures are in English, with simultaneous translation into Bulgarian.