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Meet Young Balkan Designers 2022

The winning projects of the Young Balkan Designers competition that will represent regional creative scene at Salone Satellite of Salone del Mobile are selected by the international jury of relevant figures in the field of contemporary design and art, such as Marcus Fairs, founder and editor-in-chief of; Denis Leo Hegić, founder of Berlin’s creative studio Supermarket Lab and curator of virtual Museum of Now; alumni of the Young Balkan Designers platform, now accomplished young creators: Ana Kraš, a prolific New York-based Serbian artist and designer; Vasso Asfi and Loukas Angelou, booming London-based Greek design tandem StudioLav; Jovana Zhang, co-founder of the award-winning design collective Pinwu from China. 


Designers’ path from the winning ideas to fully functional prototypes has been supported by the mentoring team: Nikola Radeljković of design collective Numen/ForUse, professor Jelena Matić from Belgrade University’s Faculty of Forestry and Maja Lalilć, founder of Mikser organisation, who are also founders of the Young Balkan Designers platform and curators of this year’s exhibition in Milan. 

+1 – Milan Kajganić, Serbia

The essence of +1 stool is the message that its design, function and story carry. The idea is to connect and bring people together through the product. In small apartments the user will use two stacked stools as a chair, when a friend comes to him he will give him one stool, sit down and talk. +1 stool is a multifunctional object, it can be used as a stool, as a side table or if we stack them on top of each other, we can use them as a chair because of height 44.5 cm or the average height of the chair. +1 stool is made of plywood boards, with only veneer sheets on the face and back of the stool, two layers of flexible thinly cut wood in between, thus reducing the use of glue. This method had a favourable effect on the weight of the stool itself.

Biography: Milan Kajganic was born in 1993 in Belgrade. In 2017 he graduated at the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, Department of Furniture Design. Upon graduation he enrolled for master’s studies at the same faculty, where he focuses even more on design and the meaning of design.

Instagram: @milan_kad

AVID – Ena Begičević Čeliković, Bosnia i Herzegovina

Avid is a name for a collection made of 3 pieces -a mirror, console table and a stool. All three pieces are multifunctional hallway furniture that combine two or more functions. As a furniture for usually the smallest part of our home, it brings maximum functionality through the minimum of material. Still, as furniture for the hallway, the last place we leave our home when we go into the outer world has a special feature. Integrated in wood, there are broken watches in each piece. Made of more than one hundred pieces, few different materials, they are unrecyclable but still worth admiring. Not only because of its complexity but for knowing that humans are capable of making great things. Avid (meaning “being enthusiastic”) is a message for all of us that it is time for deep changes regarding the environment and an enthusiastic faith that we are capable of saving our planet. 

Biography: Ena Begičević Čeliković is born in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Department for product design at the University of Sarajevo. From September 2020, Ena is owner of design studio Elosso where she provides creative support for domestic and foreign companies. Beside this, she works as a teaching assistant at Faculty of Mechanical engineering, Department for Design and woodworking technologies, University of Zenica. Also, Ena is part time employed at Bosnian National Theater in Zenica, as costume and set designer.

Instagram: @ena_begicevic

BIOCARPET – Arpad Pulai, Serbia

Biocarpet is an experimental textile surface designed with the help of woollen fibres realised by felting technique. Special attention is paid to the applying of tactile and biomimetic structures on the carpet underlying the topics: recycling, biodiversity and the use of natural materials.The city is full of synthetic materials that are unpleasant to  touch and our homes are structured of sharp and flat surfaces. Carpet structures should soften the urban architecture of the city and return nature to our rooms. I have always been a nature lover. Business obligations prevented me from going to nature, which I wanted to introduce into my daily routine in some way. Textile structures are the answer to my need for nature.

Biography: Arpad Pulai graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, Department of Textiles. He is currently working as an artistic associate in teaching at the same faculty. He is a member of ULUPUDS, the European Textile Network and a member of the artistic council of Atelje 61. He is founder of the association of citizens entitled Čunak, which aims to revalue textile techniques. In his works, he mainly deals with sociological topics, the sustainability of textile design within ecological, natural materials and recycling. In 2019, Arpad enrolled in doctoral studies at the Faculty of Applied Arts, where he researches textile structures under the influence of biomimetics.

Instagram: @arpadsanu1986

ELENA. – Eva Garibaldi, Slovenia

Elena, Greek form of Helen, shining light. Elena is a minimal raw metal candle holder crafted with a straightforward design language and multifunctional use in mind. The object is crafted with rational production in mind, requiring a minimal amount of actions: four cuts and four welds. The object becomes a centrepiece of the table, illuminating its surroundings. It can be used to either hold a single candle, for a more intimate experience, or tri-candle arrangement – a candelabra, for more illumination.

The object is designed with consideration of the carbon footprint and circular economy, crafted using smaller metal piping leftover pieces from production processes that would otherwise go to waste. Small cut-offs are sold by the metric tone as scrap metal that is either reused or recycled, which requires a lot of energy. By assembling these pieces into a simple candle holder the use of this energy is bypassed and the previously considered waste gains more value.


Biography: Eva Garibaldi is a multidisciplinary designer and researcher from Slovenia, based in Rotterdam. She holds a BA in Industrial Design from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia (2018) and a Master of Interior Architecture at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam (2021). Her practice is critical and multidisciplinary, engaging with topics focusing on environmental issues, the perception of landscape and understanding the relationship between humans and nature through specific contexts. She works as a temporary coordinator of the Master Interior Architecture: Research + Design program and at the same time develops her independent interdisciplinary practice in Rotterdam.

Instagram: @va_garibaldi

FORM FOLLOWS CULTURE – Nada Elkharashi, Turkey

A new set of everyday drinking objects examines cultural understandings and makes them part of its essential qualities to guide a new, improved, and healthier daily routine. Each triggers an embedded meaning, causing the user to react and respond to cultural traditions and values principles. Each re-imagines a healthier, more mindful everyday world, advancing the quality of life and increasing the overall well-being of individuals and communities for better cultural development. The design approach draws attention to the relationship between how we drink water and the effect of water on our bodies. The form of drinking in a sitting posture in which water is consumed has a massive effect on the human body, as it helps absorb most of the benefits of water as it passes through our body. Following cultural traditions, it is advised to drink water in a slow manner; have one sip, then breathe, then sip, then breathe, then sip, then breathe. This drinking technique in pauses allows the water to be slowly absorbed by the body, move through the body’s natural passages, and ensure all of the water’s benefits are delivered to the organs and flushing out impurities. If we drink too quickly, the body produces a protective response. It detects a sudden expansion and anticipates an increase in blood volume, and then protects itself by sending the excess volume directly to the kidneys to be excreted, even if the body has not yet reached full hydration. It is also advised not to breathe into the vessel. The breathing pauses are prompted to be taken outside the drinking object. The wisdom behind this principle is that it lessens the possibility of exhaled carbon dioxide being dissolved back into the water, where it forms carbonic acid. Over time, an increased level of carbonic acid can damage tissues and imbalance the metabolic system. Each slow gulp is an opportunity to refocus our consciousness and positively impact our mental and physical health. It denotes that everyday drinking objects should not be thought of as detached things stored up in an outside world but should be seen as stimuli whose character and distinguishing features are determined by their meanings. 

The project has been developed during Masters of Fine Arts in Design Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University of the Arts in Qatar, academic year 2020/2021,under the advisory of Marco Bruno and Yasmeen Suleiman / Reader: Rab McClure.

Biography: Nada Elkharashi is an Interdisciplinary Designer, and a Design Researcher focused on creating thought-provoking experiences and realities. Her work lies at the intersection of materiality, cultural philosophy, and human ecology. Nada holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture Honors— BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts with a full scholarship from Hamad Bin Khalifa for academic merit and excellence, and a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Design Studies—MFA, from Virginia Commonwealth University with a received graduate fellowship from the Dean of the Graduate School for academic achievements.

Instagram: @by.nadak

MEENGHE – Đurđa Garčević, Serbia

This project is a proposal for solving the problem of excessive car tire waste in landfills and nature. Cities constantly grow and need more urban mobiliar objects to be more comfortable and functional.

The problem of excessive used car tires is recognized in the world. The goals of this project were to find new places where the tire can be used and to design a product for which the production can use rubber. In this project, the target technology is mainly the mechanical one, separating the material, grinding to the right size, and then joining in a mold with the help of polyurethane. The tire needs to be roused as easily as possible. Products of this level (shredded tires) are usually used instead of virgin materials. For the production of this material, a lot of energy and special technologies are not necessary. The most important thing about this type of recycling is that harmful by-products are not produced. The rubber can be painted in any color before molding.

The use of classic virgin materials like wood, gravel, and metal typical for this kind of products is avoided in this project. The molded shredded tire doesn’t react with rain, water, sun, wind, etc, therefore last longer..The entire family of urban mobiliar products consists of six elements: stool, thrash bin, plant pot, pet keeper, bicycle parking, and traffic stopper.

The concept has been developed during studies at Faculty of Applied Arts, University of Arts Belgrade, academic year 2019/2020,under the mentorship of Nikola Knezevic. 

Biography: Born in Belgrade on 6.5.1996. She has always been interested in nature exploration, insects and cycling. In life, she was inspired by the mechanisms and how they work. She graduated from the School of Design in Belgrade, majoring in visual arts. After high school, she enrolled in the Faculty of Applied Arts, majoring in industrial design. The determination for this profession stemmed from an interest in the combination of art and science. In life, she plans to pursue eco-friendly product design, game art, illustration and humanitarian work related to animals.

Instagram: @jura_juro

POLIČNIK – Tadej Urh, Slovenia

Poličnik is a simple, yet unique set of open wooden shelves that creates an opportunity for home exhibition of your most favourable objects.

IKEA furniture in every Balkan home? Maybe not… Poličnik questions the design generics of our time and tries to offer a new option to the well-established mass-produced easy home assembled furniture. It is a simple form, composed of only two different wooden boards – vertical and horizontal ones – that are mechanically joined. The form is something between an utilitarian furniture element and a wooden system sculpture, which gives users an opportunity to neatly exhibit their favourite objects and at the same time represents a convenient vertical storage for everyday items.

Poličnik is a piece of furniture that, due to its robustness, aesthetics and most simple composition, withstands the ravages of time much better than global mass furniture producers. It is a representative of products that accompany the owner throughout his lifetime. It is made so that it needs no drilling to stand firmly which is practical when moving often or for those users who like to rearrange their home every now and then and move their furniture around without leaving marks behind. The main goal is to promote furniture as something that can be accessible, permanent, sustainable and yet very movable. 

Biography: Tadej Urh is a young architect, based in Ljubljana. He completed his studies in 2020 at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Ljubljana, where he has been working as an assistant in the field of architecture. Besides he is involved in architectural practice and product design in various teams. He received several awards for his work. He regularly attends workshops and theoretical seminars.

Instagram: @tadejurh

SUBVERSION – Tijana Kostić, Serbia

Subversion is a collection of transformable furniture pieces. It exploits the properties of ‘quick-grip’ industrial clamps that enables quick and simple transformation of pieces. It takes inspiration from everyday adhocism and hybridisation seen as only forces of true innovation. Contrary to the consumerist mindset I’m coming from the environment/ culture where things when broken or no longer needed we reuse them, repair them and give them a new life. Creativity of this approach inspires me very much.

The idea with the collection is that all the pieces are customizable and transformable, where users can choose to clamp whichever material or size tabletop they choose. It rejects the norms of conventional furniture and tries to invite users to reimagine their domestic landscape as a playful, inclusive and open process with multiple possibilities rather than predetermined ‘off the shelf’ and exclusive ones. 

Another layer of inspiration comes from my work as architect, visiting building sites. Building site ad-hocism – temporary furniture that builders assemble from whatever they find available – functional, unselfconscious, transformable and ambiguous enough to tell the story. By using ready mades from industry and construction in furniture design and making this table collection addresses the “designer paradox” which says that “manufacturing of the designed products represents one of the largest human impacts on the planet, the most sustainable thing you can do as a designer is not to design at all“. 

This collection of tables also plays with ‘cultures of use’ and ‘making’ where tools which are used to make furniture with, become  functional part of the furniture itself and books that are usually bought to decorate the table – ‘coffee table books’ are becoming a structural part of the table, subverts the notion of conventional furniture and provokes user’s engagement in thought and making process. 

The concept has been developed during studies at University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins, academic year 2017/2019, under the mentorship of Ralph Ball, Simon Fraser, Elisabeth Wright. 

Biography: Tijana Kostic is an architect and furniture designer, co-founder of Focal Design Studio. 2015. obtains Master’s degree in Architecture form the University of Belgrade and in 2019. Master of Arts form Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She perceives her practice as a bridge between craft, industry, object and user, she is interested in forging links between a research-based practice and the wider design industry.

Instagram: @tijanakos

THE LAST JAR OF HONEY – Katarina Trpčić, Croatia

Through a personal family story, with a focus on the challenges of the grandfather beekeeper, the project deals with the topic of the general crisis of stationed bee communities in Croatia, but also around the world. After this year’s spring yield proved to be the weakest so far, with large losses within communities, the project through dystopia strive to raise awareness of the beekeeping crisis, mass honey production, and climate change, but also by pulling listeners into the emotional story of the beekeeper to bring closer his commitment and great contribution to bees in nature. The project consists of a short documentary and a scenario that sets a set of products for preserving and consuming the last jar of honey on the table, the place of togetherness. The set of products pays homage to a precious jar of honey which turns the consumption of utensils – spoon and cork, into a ritual that encourages us to preserve or use every drop of honey. The pedestal is made of fir board from the old hive, the former home of the deceased bee community.

The concept has been developed during studies at School of design, Faculty of Architecture Zagreb, academic year 2020/2021, under the mentorship of Ivana Fabrio and assistance of Nika Pavlinek.  

Biography: Born in Karlovac, Croatia 21.11.1998. After graduating from the science-mathematics course of Gymnasium Karlovac high school in August 2017, she enrolled in the School of Design. After finishing her undergraduate program and becoming BA, she decided to continue her education as a product designer on MA at the School of Design. At the same time, she started working as a Color and Trim Design Intern at Rimac Automobili, currently Bugatti Rimac in the design team which is one of her greatest experiences and opportunities of working with professionals from all around the world. Her biggest motivation is to bring the feel and sensation of untold stories, heritage and fascinating materials through honesty and her own sense.

Instagram: @ktrpcic

UNLUCKIES – Maja Repotočnik, Slovenia

My goal is to share environmental awareness, starting with educating the kids – through a toy with a story. Unluckies are soft toys in the shape of endangered animals: Kiwi Okarito bird, North Atlantic right whale and Sumatran Rhino. Each toy has a hidden message in their tummy – which is a plastic cap. It serves as a reminder that we should take better care of our planet which we share with all living creatures. The toys are conversation starters which spark meaningful debates about the ecology. While lying on our sofa, they also subtly remind us that we should take better care of our planet. My vision is that kids develop an emotional connection with the toy and the ecology that the toy represents and grow up to more eco-conscious adults. Furthermore – the toys are crafted from the textile made from recycled plastic bottles.

Biography: Maja Repotocnik is a Slovenian industrial designer with a bright vision of smart solutions. With a great interest in sustainable design, she tries to keep the entire design and production process completely local.

Instagram: @unluckies_toys

VAL – Andraž Rudi Vrhovšek, Slovenia

Val is a modular partition for open-plan spaces in which the accumulation of noise can lead to a 66% reduction in productivity and health issues, costing EU employers up to 40 billion EUR per year. Val responds to the rapid change of life and work habits as a flexible and light sound-visual barrier enabling us to create various personalised environments for regulated work and relaxation, thus improving our psychoacoustic state. Moreover, its accessories system can turn it into a work unit for a home office. Val assembles recycled materials which help to reduce waste pollution. Sourced material is made from recycled plastic PET bottles, turned into fibers. As a result, Val saves 170 plastic bottles (considered that bottle weighs 17g) per module from the environment by using various forms of the same material.

The first recycled paper version of Val project (under the name Papiro-logia) has been developed during design studies at Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, in academic year 2018/2019, under the mentorship of Lidija Pritržnik, Barbara Predan.

Biography: Andraž Rudi Vrhovšek is a graduate industrial designer at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana and a founding member of the ADDiD PLUS collective. By approaching the projects with an emphasis on the research process, the designer discovers unique social and environmental issues—his resulting work expresses integrity, simplicity, playfulness, and unique experiences. The main topic of the designer’s work is the issue of sitting in modern society. Other fields of work include product design, interior design, design of visual communications, and occasional dabble at architecture.

Instagram: @arudiv, @addidplus

VOZICHECK – Matko Plovanić, Croatia

Vozicheck is a product with two main functions; trolley and table. It enables the delivery of goods and then transforms into a work unit. The idea was to design a product that would facilitate the operation of specific open-air activities in pedestrian zones of urban areas, such as food festivals, green markets or street sale markets and to reduce usage of motor delivery vehicles in these city zones. The construction is made of bent steel pipes, steel sheet and wooden slats. The robust skeleton ensures durability, while the wooden parts are easily replaced with new ones in case of damage.

Biography: Master of Art graduate from the Faculty of Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia with many years of experience as a freelance designer and several years as a studio designer. Has extensive knowledge and experience in print and digital design, as well as exhibition design, spatial interventions, and product design. His works were part of the exhibitions Zgraf 12 and Review of Croatian Design 19/20. His chair concept (Primaire) won first place at the Festival of Wood in Slovenia in 2019. For the design of the collection of short stories”Author’s Boras” he was awarded with the Red Dot 2020.

Instagram: @balkon_design_studio

ZAOKRET – Marija Kojić, Serbia

A spatial system aimed at preschool children with tree functions. A circular wooden panel and four supports, joined together by ropes, make up the base of the spatial structure functioning as a workspace. Twelve children can play around the system, under it, or inside it. By placing one of the two canvases on the base, the space is given a new purpose. By means of transformation, this workspace becomes a place for playing, seclusion, exploring, or an exhibition panel for drawings and objects. 

The system is developed so as to meet the children’s need for a space that belongs to them, and, conversely, one to which they belong. Inspired by a real-life experience of a child meets the needs of children for their own space. The aim is to encourage the proper development of children through play.

The project has been developed during design studies at Faculty of Applied Arts Belgrade, University of Arts, Belgrade, under the mentorship of Ranko Bočina.

Biography: Interior and furniture designer who works and lives in Belgrade. She graduated from the Faculty of Philology and Arts in Kragujevac, majoring in interior architecture. She enrolled in Master’s studies in the same year at the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, module of interior and furniture design. She has executed projects in the field of interior, furniture and product design.
Instagram: @marijakojich

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