Slovenian designer Nika Zupanc offers her take on the still predominately male furniture-design market, and tells us how her unique creations strive to provoke using fresh yet rational shapes.
29 April, 2013
“Let it be full of love”
Using her poetic judgement to sophistically explore the limits of the design industry, Nika Zupanc caught the eye of Dutch design house Moooi in 2007, and has since collaborated with the innovative company to achieve worldwide recognition. At this year’s iSalone in Milan, Indesign’s Nicky Lobo took time with Zupanc to discuss life, inspiration and creation.
The Golden Chair
Firstly, can you tell me a bit about your current design for Moooi – the ‘Golden Chair’?
With all my designs, I try to work with this idea of ‘icons’. I like to combine ideas and items we have hidden in our subconscious to form the basis of my designs. With this chair, I predominantly wanted to design a very simple chair, that is, I wanted to take the form of the chair back to its very basic sketch – as if you would invite a five year old to design a chair. That was my first inspiration. The second part was based on the colour: gold. Gold is a very difficult colour, especially to use in contemporary design. Therefore by designing a very restrained chair that can be minimal and very simple, I was able to bring a positive story to gold, to transform this colour into something beautiful, elegant and reminiscent of a fairy-tale. I hope therefore I have been able to give ‘gold’ a new place in our perception of contemporary design.
The Golden Chair in Milan
Do you think you try to achieve this balance in all your designs?
In a way, of course. I see myself as a new product designer, and because of that I will always have limitations: limitations with money, technology and combining my philosophies with others. I will always only have a small space to work with. But when you manage to work inside this box to create a product with a twist, when you manage to put the pieces of the puzzle together in new ways, that is when you bring out something unique in design.
What is the most important aspect to you when you are designing these new products?
If I am working with a company, first and foremost, it is important for me to combine my design philosophy with theirs. And in fact, this merge is the key inspiration for each new design. However, if I am designing for myself, there are certain topics and themes I like to research first, and then I can address and explore this theme in my design. I have a very open brief at Moooi: I can suggest what I think might suit their collection. It is a great company to work with.
Where are you mainly based and what is it like working for international design companies?
I’m based in Slovenia. I think today it doesn’t matter where you come from; the web has made location no longer an important factor when thinking about or creating design. Slovenia is in a great geographical position – I can drive to Milan anytime I want for instance. I know that Australia [where you’re based] is really far away from Milan however. But in the time of the Internet, it is in fact so close. I myself just send files and drawings over the internet, I really don’t even use my printer. Physical distance is no longer a problem.
5 O’Clock Chair
What do you think attracted Moooi to you in the first place?
Marcel [Wanders] spotted my ‘Maid Chair’ that I designed in 2007. After that he was very keen to work with me. I think he saw that I was opening a new niche in design, that I had a very special language. And I guess, Marcel along with Casper [Vissers] and Moooi as a company, believed that my design could contribute to the image of Moooi. But I also think that because of Marcel’s own talent he had this vision of me, that he was able to see my talent early on. In fact, Marcel has done extraordinary things for designers: Moooi has been able to recognise their talents. And Moooi will always be a very special company from that point of view.
5 O’Clock Setting
Just quickly to finish up, can you say the first thing that comes into your head when I say:
• Dog: Cat
• Celebrity: Opulence
• Sustainability: Restraint
• Bad Design: Damage
• Culture: Value
• Home: Heart
• Milan: Design
• And lastly, apart from your designs, what is the best thing at this year’s Milan Design Fair: Food!!!!
Portrait Image © Fulvio Grisoni
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