Sofia Design Week 2013: The Balkan Date

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July 2, 2013
The recent fifth edition of Sofia Design Week in Bulgaria's capital city marked a milestone for this international festival devoted to design and visual culture from Eastern Europe and beyond. The theme for 2013 was 'The Balkan Date'—a fitting topic for a region brimming with innovative design ideas as well as cultural expressions that are innately complex. Sofia Design Week's curatorial team felt that is was vital for this year's program to encourage creative exchange between Balkan countries, as well as facilitate a more tangible global presence for regional contemporary design.

"When speaking of design on the Balkans, the usual reaction to the topic ranges from embarrassment to bewilderment to a smile. Until recently we were surprised at the growing interest of large-scale design platforms into the region. With its fifth edition, Sofia Design Week counteracts the skepticism and scant availability of information by putting you live in contact with the new wave of Balkan designers. Here and now, Bulgarians, Romanians, Turks, Greeks, Serbs, Kosovars, Slovenians, Albanians, Montenegrins, Croatians, Macedonians, Bosnians and Herzegovians are creating a surprisingly interesting, different and potentially characteristic design. " —Sofia Design Week curators/organizers Read Full Article

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  Fuchila Two Seater by Marina Dragomirova. Photo courtesy of the designer and Sofia Design Week.

    Fuchila Two Seater by Marina Dragomirova. Photo courtesy of the designer and Sofia Design Week.

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  Sparks exhibition curated by Adriana Andreeva Dimitrova. Photo courtesy of Sofia Design Week.

    Sparks exhibition curated by Adriana Andreeva Dimitrova. Photo courtesy of Sofia Design Week.

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  "The Balkan Date examined challenging themes such as East meets West, communism meets capitalism, and the desire for material things versus the aspirations for spirituality. In this controversial and dynamic context, a new breed of artists has emerged. They harbor a particular kind of sensitivity and form parts of the puzzle to our cultural identity through design. What's more, they successfully counteract the global tendency towards unified cultural products." – Sofia Design Week curators/organizersTypography by Croatian Designers in the 'In A Nutshell' exhibition at SAMCA during Sofia Design Week. Photo by Abigail Doan.

    "The Balkan Date examined challenging themes such as East meets West, communism meets capitalism, and the desire for material things versus the aspirations for spirituality. In this controversial and dynamic context, a new breed of artists has emerged. They harbor a particular kind of sensitivity and form parts of the puzzle to our cultural identity through design. What's more, they successfully counteract the global tendency towards unified cultural products." – Sofia Design Week curators/organizers

    Typography by Croatian Designers in the 'In A Nutshell' exhibition at SAMCA during Sofia Design Week. Photo by Abigail Doan.

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  Sofia Design Week 2013 featured a professional forum with prominent international speakers, as well as a one-day 'Balkan Talks' agenda. This year's speakers included names like Konstantin Grcic, Matali Crasset, Michael Marriott, Mark Chalmers, Erik Kessels, Ji Lee, Marti Guixe, Stefan Sagmeister, Genevieve Gauckler, David Carlson, Peter Bilak, and Tomek Rygalik. Between June 12 to 30 there was also an extensive line up of events throughout the city in the form of exhibitions, workshops, screenings, parties, book openings, and interactive events for children. Photo courtesy of Sofia Design Week.

    Sofia Design Week 2013 featured a professional forum with prominent international speakers, as well as a one-day 'Balkan Talks' agenda. This year's speakers included names like Konstantin Grcic, Matali Crasset, Michael Marriott, Mark Chalmers, Erik Kessels, Ji Lee, Marti Guixe, Stefan Sagmeister, Genevieve Gauckler, David Carlson, Peter Bilak, and Tomek Rygalik. Between June 12 to 30 there was also an extensive line up of events throughout the city in the form of exhibitions, workshops, screenings, parties, book openings, and interactive events for children. Photo courtesy of Sofia Design Week.

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  The 'Sparks' group design exhibition curated by Adriana Andreeva Dimitrova highlighted regional makers who employ novel approaches to natural materials, sustainable methods, and the re-interpretation of traditional forms. Don't DIY's Plywood Table demonstrated the modern functionality of hand-crafted dining furniture that was striking in its simplicity. Photo courtesy of Don't DIY.

    The 'Sparks' group design exhibition curated by Adriana Andreeva Dimitrova highlighted regional makers who employ novel approaches to natural materials, sustainable methods, and the re-interpretation of traditional forms. Don't DIY's Plywood Table demonstrated the modern functionality of hand-crafted dining furniture that was striking in its simplicity. Photo courtesy of Don't DIY.

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  'Objects for Cleaning' (2013) by Raya Stefanova, also featured in the Sparks' exhibition, encourages household dwellers to re-consider the beauty of and possibilities for engagement with utilization of sculptural tools, which the designer envisions being left out in plain view as part of the domestic dialogue. Photo courtesy of Raya Stefanova and Sofia Design Week.

    'Objects for Cleaning' (2013) by Raya Stefanova, also featured in the Sparks' exhibition, encourages household dwellers to re-consider the beauty of and possibilities for engagement with utilization of sculptural tools, which the designer envisions being left out in plain view as part of the domestic dialogue. Photo courtesy of Raya Stefanova and Sofia Design Week.

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  Studio Odd Matter introduced their 'Holiday Eyes' tableware collection during Sofia Design Week 2013 featuring designs inspired by traditional Bulgarian ceramics and the 'slip trailing technique' created by local artisans. As two designers living abroad, Odd Matter's team of Els Woldhek and Georgi Manassiev view these pieces as being a link to their respective home countries as well as creating an opportunity to celebrate everyday objects with fresh eyes. Photo courtesy of Odd Matter and Sofia Design Week.

    Studio Odd Matter introduced their 'Holiday Eyes' tableware collection during Sofia Design Week 2013 featuring designs inspired by traditional Bulgarian ceramics and the 'slip trailing technique' created by local artisans. As two designers living abroad, Odd Matter's team of Els Woldhek and Georgi Manassiev view these pieces as being a link to their respective home countries as well as creating an opportunity to celebrate everyday objects with fresh eyes. Photo courtesy of Odd Matter and Sofia Design Week.

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  Designer Tzuri Gueta showcased his sculptural accessories in a solo exhibition at Testa Gallery in Sofia. The Paris-based artist, craftsman, and scientist has extensive experience as a trend forecaster as well as a being a collaborator with Haute Couture fashion designers. With a background in textile engineering, Gueta's patented technique of 'lace fed with silicone' allows for a surrealistic and sensual approach to organic form building. Photo courtesy of Tzuri Gueta and Testa Gallery.

    Designer Tzuri Gueta showcased his sculptural accessories in a solo exhibition at Testa Gallery in Sofia. The Paris-based artist, craftsman, and scientist has extensive experience as a trend forecaster as well as a being a collaborator with Haute Couture fashion designers. With a background in textile engineering, Gueta's patented technique of 'lace fed with silicone' allows for a surrealistic and sensual approach to organic form building. Photo courtesy of Tzuri Gueta and Testa Gallery.

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  The traveling exhibition, 'Crisis is a Greek Word' features fifty top Greek designers in the field of visual communication, all coming together to create positive thinking and creative solutions in the form of graphic design expression. "Fully respecting the very important heritage they carry from the past, the Greeks aim to establish a new cultural identity that will help them overcome the problems caused by depression. Designers hold an essential role in the country’s creative and cultural development, so they choose to lead the way towards the achievement of this new identity."'Ariadne's Thread' by Kommigraphics. Photo by: Abigail Doan.

    The traveling exhibition, 'Crisis is a Greek Word' features fifty top Greek designers in the field of visual communication, all coming together to create positive thinking and creative solutions in the form of graphic design expression. "Fully respecting the very important heritage they carry from the past, the Greeks aim to establish a new cultural identity that will help them overcome the problems caused by depression. Designers hold an essential role in the country’s creative and cultural development, so they choose to lead the way towards the achievement of this new identity."

    'Ariadne's Thread' by Kommigraphics. Photo by: Abigail Doan.

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  The 'New Bulgarian Typography' exhibition at Vivacom Art Hall featured twenty artists from different generations who employ traditional Cyrillic fonts and schooled methods as well as youthful experimentation with calligraphy and bold contemporary typefaces. Photo courtesy of Sofia Design Week.

    The 'New Bulgarian Typography' exhibition at Vivacom Art Hall featured twenty artists from different generations who employ traditional Cyrillic fonts and schooled methods as well as youthful experimentation with calligraphy and bold contemporary typefaces. Photo courtesy of Sofia Design Week.

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  'New Bulgarian Typography' at Vivacom Art Hall highlighted the work of designers Ilya Gruev, Philip Popoff, prominent members of the Art Directors Club of Bulgaria, as well as new typefaces from TypeDept and Ivan Hristov. Photo courtesy of Sofia Design Week.

    'New Bulgarian Typography' at Vivacom Art Hall highlighted the work of designers Ilya Gruev, Philip Popoff, prominent members of the Art Directors Club of Bulgaria, as well as new typefaces from TypeDept and Ivan Hristov. Photo courtesy of Sofia Design Week.

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  Valentin Vodev's 'Vienna Bike' was featured in the 'More than a Bike' exhibition, also curated by Vodev. Its mission was to demonstrate the evolution of the bicycle and various methods of contemporary production. Bulgarians are a bit crazy for their bikes and feel a deep connection to life on wheels since the first local model, the 'Spider', made its debut. The 'More than a Bike' showcase quirkily demonstrated how the streets of Sofia and many other Balkan cities aim to be green on the road to bypassing antiquated Eastern Bloc stereotypes. Photo courtesy of Valentin Vodev.

    Valentin Vodev's 'Vienna Bike' was featured in the 'More than a Bike' exhibition, also curated by Vodev. Its mission was to demonstrate the evolution of the bicycle and various methods of contemporary production. Bulgarians are a bit crazy for their bikes and feel a deep connection to life on wheels since the first local model, the 'Spider', made its debut. The 'More than a Bike' showcase quirkily demonstrated how the streets of Sofia and many other Balkan cities aim to be green on the road to bypassing antiquated Eastern Bloc stereotypes. Photo courtesy of Valentin Vodev.

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