Change as the Only Constant

Maša Milovac, President of the Croatian Designers Association

Dear readers, design lovers and all those who faithfully follow the Croatian design scene, before you is another comprehensive Croatian Design Review, which, in addition to a catalog overview of all works from the Exhibition of Croatian Design, is enriched with content essential for contextualizing the time in which the selected works were created. We are talking about the post-pandemic period of global economic uncertainty and instability, which culminated in early 2022 at the time of Russian aggression against Ukraine. We live, work and hope for a slightly calmer period, waiting for the kuna to change overnight to the euro, and despite the uncertainty, we bravely accept the change as the only constant.

And these are briefly the effects of the general situation that are also felt in design on a professional level, because we often see how design is where corners are cut, and that hiring a designer is generally perceived as an added value, almost as luxury. We, on the other hand, persistently assert and prove with results, precisely at these exhibitions, that designers contribute their knowledge at all levels, specifically with practices that are socially and economically justifiable and in accordance with international trends to reduce the impact on our environment. More importantly, as you will see in this book, designers participate equally in creating new concepts of action that often include the participation of the local community in various design processes, which raises the level of awareness and a better understanding of design among the clients as well as the end users. Although the previous edition of the Exhibition of Croatian Design 19/20 was marked by significant impacts that the coronavirus pandemic and earthquakes had on society – which permanently changed the way we live and work, including in the context of space and architecture – we will actually only see these effects in this year’s exhibition, in terms of what designers did in that transitional period and how it was reflected in their designs. Compared to the previous, unconventional edition of the exhibition that we held online (but also in a condensed form in the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, the Multimedia Cultural Center in Split and the Museum of the City of Rijeka), thus imitating the way the whole world functioned due to restrictions on movement and socializing, along with the fact that the space of the Museum of Arts and Crafts, where we hosted the exhibition for years, has been put out of action for the next few years pending renovation, this year we are organizing the Exhibition of Croatian Design in Lauba in its full scope which includes all of the selected works. And we are really looking forward to the live opening.

Every catalog of the Exhibition of Croatian Design, including this one, retrospectively looks at a cross-section of professional and student works with attempts to shed light on interesting phenomena and situations in the profession through interviews with the members of the jury, as well as additional texts by respected colleagues. Besides the consistently strong visual communication design category, what can be noticed at first glance is the increasingly stable number of works submitted in the category Design in digital media and interaction design, which we see as a result of the development of new technologies and market needs. However, we can also observe this through the prism of recent events and conclude that a significant change in the way we use digital services and apps in our work and everyday life is indeed visible in the works presented at the exhibition. Personally, I am happy to see a large number of design commissions for publications and books which somehow refutes predictions that printed books will lose their function and that reading will find its alternative in the digital medium. Because, just like digital technology, printing technology is also developing, and there is still a lot of room for improvement in the direction of environmentally friendly colors, paper and sustainable printing methods. Spatial interventions and systems are an increasingly interesting and comprehensive category, and increasingly important because through the selected works it faithfully demonstrates the diverse role of designers in these projects, which underlines the multidisciplinary aspect of our profession, which we often point out to as a professional association.

And at the end of this short review, I would like to say that I am pleased with the increasing number of designers, clients and contributors whose works are present at the exhibition, because this once again confirms the need for this way of recording and presenting design, and thus the impact that design has on our everyday lives. And seeing the exhibition live this year is definitely an opportunity to be seized.