It has been said that if May belongs to the New York Design Week and the Venice Art Biennale, June is all about Belgrade. 2013 was the ninth consecutive year that the Belgrade Design Week embellished our lives. Visiting a city of contrasts: on the one hand, ruins reminding us of a war catastrophe not that far away and, on the other, a wealth of culture mixing heritage with modernism, showing us who Serbians are and shaping the future through new perspectives, a statement heard at BDW was constantly being validated: “it is not politics that are changing the world, but design”
So, more about that week. BDW was about exciting Serbian designers exhibiting all over Belgrade and la crème de la crème of European design. Our very own Beetroot with their unique Monsters exhibition, the collages of the kind and gentle Sergei Sviatchenko, Dragana Ognjenović‘s fashion show, the BDW workshops, three days’ worth of innovation lectures (32!), a lot of fun, parties and people meeting each other, exchanging ideas about design and living. Most of that wonderful schedule was hosted at the Museum of Contemporary Art, an amazing building which has remained closed for the past 7 years, until Jovan Jelovac, founder/curator of BDW and the most charismatic person you could ever meet in marketing/comms, decided to re-open it for all of us. Already a very special opportunity in itself, imagine that wonderful building with huge projections of Dusan Reljin‘s photo auction and Goran Balaban’s (Samsung-sponsored) 3D mapping on the Grand Opening night.
Highlights of the innovation lectures were Clemens Weisshaar‘s extravagant robots, Oskar Zieta‘s unique furniture-making techniques, Daan Roosegaarde speaking about the relationship between us humans and our environment, demonstrating light constructions and interactive new-age roads, Laura Lee‘s take on branding a country, based on the information gathered from participants of her BDW workshop, and Troika‘s light installations such as “the weather yesterday“. Yet another of our fellow countrymen, Demetrios Fakinos, used Greece as an example of a country that needs design to redefine its position in the world. Christophe Pillet lectured on desire and needs, Studio Dumbar from Rotterdam captivated us through their very special Alzheimer campaign, Yurko Gutsulyak told us three stories about understanding people through design, wasting time and designing for limited edition, while Studio FM demonstrated designs for widely different clients, ranging from Electrolux to Benetton. Last but not least, EDA agency of the year Jäger & Jäger indulged us on knowledge and belief, through their class work on the Stift Zwettl monastery exhibition, the Siemens Music Foundation corporate branding and their reading chairs, with Andrien Rovero closing the proceedings with his Skinni leather animals and Hermès work.
We left Belgrade, having also visited the Yugoslav Drama Theatre during the European Design Awards and attended the EDA & BDW afterparty at Splav Play in Ušće, with a promise: Belgrade, we will remain true to you and return in 2014! Thank you for the memories!