Nevolje samoreprezentacije, Marko Golub

29. 08. 2014. / 07. 11. 2014.

Tekst Marka Goluba, iz kataloga Izložbe hrvatskog dizajna 1314Pregled hrvatskog dizajna 1314. Tip ga je ubio!

Katalog koji držite u rukama je pozamašan. On je takav zato što je u njemu jako, jako puno dobrog dizajna. Hrvatska dizajnerska scena je u razdoblju od prve HDD-ove bijenalne izložbe 1999. do danas značajno sazrela, kvalitativno i brojčano višestruko narasla, povećao se broj fakulteta koji obrazuju mlade dizajnere, generacijski je konstantno mlada, svježa i uglavnom dobro raspoložena. Sama Izložba je pak ostala u tradicionalnom revijalnom formatu, prilično rigidna u klasificiranju radova u strogo određene kategorije (vizualne komunikacije, produkt, moda, elektronski mediji, koncept, prostorna grafika i signalizacija), s poslovično ništa manje strogim žirijem koji doista nastoji pažljivo probrati samo one radove koji će reprezentirati najbolje standarde dizajnerske produkcije. Spomenuta strukturna rigidnost ima svoje razloge, jer je od početka bilo važno da izložba omogućava lako čitanje i dijagnosticiranje stanja u svakom od područja dizajnerskog djelovanja. Preciznije, da ne skriva stagnaciju jednog segmenta produkcije trijumfalnim dosezima nekog njenog drugog dijela. Kompleksni radovi koji graniče s više kategorija obično se razmatraju i pokazuju u onom aspektu u kojem su se pokazali najuspješnijima. I dalje je to u dominantnoj mjeri izložba predmeta, koja ne rasvjetljava uvijek u potpunosti plastično njihov kontekst, razloge i procese nastanka. Ona ne priča izravno priču, ali daje elemente iz kojih se priča može ispričati.

Letimičnim pregledom je, primjerice, razvidno da je produkcija u području vizualnih komunikacija i dalje brojčano superiorna u odnosu na ostale, kao i da je kvalitativno najstabilnija. Srednja generacija nastupa sa svojevrsnim suzdržanim dignitetom, sklonija zadržati prepoznatljive elemente već formiranih autorskih jezika, dok je ona najmlađa otvorenija eksperimentu, samopouzdanija i ohrabrena stečenim kompetencijama đurek-bralićevske tipografske škole čiji se utjecaj itekako osjeća i u studentskim i u profesionalnim kategorijama. Primjećuje se i određena težnja sofisticiranosti u vizualnom komuniciranju – malo tko igra na prvu loptu, cijeni se dizajn koji je promišljen, dobro informiran, evokativan, asocijativan, elokventan u svojim referencijama, nema tu ničeg pretjerano “visceralnog”. Dio autora svjesno prisvaja i reciklira obrasce vernakularne i ulične kulture, a obavezno se barem malo eksperimentira s medijem tiska, knjige i drugih formata. Kao i ranijih godina, većinom su to radovi za klijente iz područja nezavisne i institucionalne kulture. Prisutnost oglašivačkih agencija je razmjerno mala i dragocjena, a i one se većinom predstavljaju radovima iz konteksta kulture i humanitarnih akcija, što je šteta, jer bi upravo na ovakvoj izložbi bilo važno njegovati uvjerljiviju sekciju radova iz područja korporativnog oglašavanja koje ponekad treba promatrati s drugačijeg, ali ne manje relevantnog očišta. Iako zastupljena u nešto manjem opsegu nego ranije, studentska selekcija i ove godine sadrži neke od najboljih radova na cijeloj izložbi, ponajviše u području oblikovanja knjiga i tipografije na zagrebačkom i splitskom studiju, ali i produkt dizajna, te zajedno s prethodnom izložbom (1112) svjedoči o stasavanju iznimno važne i neobično zrele generacije mladih dizajnerica i dizajnera. Osim toga, vrijedi zabilježiti i da na scenu pored zagrebačkog Studija dizajna i splitskog DVK UMAS kao dva visokoprofilirana i daleko najutjecajnija studija, te TTF-a, Agore i riječkog APURI-ja, zasad samo simbolično stupa i novi i vrlo perspektivni odsjek medijskog dizajna Sveučilišta Sjever iz Koprivnice, čije ćemo rezultate sigurno imati priliku vidjeti već na idućoj izložbi.

Velika većina radova zastupljenih u profesionalnoj kategoriji produkt dizajna su samoinicirani radovi, uz zamjetnu prisutnost samo dvaju većih proizvođača – sasvim očekivano, Kvadre i bosanskohercegovačkog Artisana – koji su u proteklih nekoliko godina učvrstili svoj status na tržištu i čije primjere opet vrijedi isticati jer nose važnu poruku ostatku industrije da bez dizajna i bez vlastitih prepoznatljivih proizvoda u najboljem slučaju mogu samo nastaviti životariti. I dok su u javnoj svijesti ovi primjeri već neko vrijeme itekako prisutni – podjednako kao razmjerno široko eksponirani predmeti i kao medijske senzacije – odgovora uopće nije bilo. Nastupile su samo epizode zaglušujuće panike – panika od ulaska u EU, panika od dolaska Ikee, panika zbog nedostatka državnih potpora, panika, panika, panika. Dio odgovornosti leži na državnim institucijama i tiho prekinutoj aktualizaciji Nacionalne strategije dizajna, ali dio i na neosviještenosti činjenice da se reindustrijalizacija ne može provoditi izolirano od šireg društvenog konteksta. Upravo “fetiši” masovne industrijske proizvodnje i nacionalne ekonomije jesu dio problema. Sami odnosi između proizvođača, dizajnera, distributera i potrošača su dramatično izmijenjeni na globalnoj razini i takva situacija traži odgovore, traži osmišljavanje novih sustava, novih hijerarhija i odnosa. U projektiranju takvih sustava moraju sudjelovati upravo dizajneri, uvažavajući ne samo ekonomske, nego i etičke parametre koji iz diskursa o dizajnu kao akceleratoru gospodarskog rasta i konkurentnosti, pogotovo u vremenu krize, kontinuirano izostaju.

Recentnu produkciju u području produkt dizajna obilježila je i tendencija razvoja vlastitih brendova, pokretanja vlastite proizvodnje u malim serijama, suradnje s obrtnicima i pronalaženja alternativnih načina distribucije na internacionalno tržište. Ovu pojavu ne treba gledati tek u svjetlu uspona neke nove probitačne hibridne vrste dizajnera-poduzetnika, nego kao pokazatelj da su sami dizajneri u potrazi za funkcionalnijim, utemeljenijim, pravednijim, pa i razumljivijim okvirima i sustavima djelovanja. Svjesno ili nesvjesno, svi oni na malom mjerilu pokušavaju razumjeti što je to što rade, za koga, s kim, koje su stvarne potrebe, gdje su stvarni resursi, tko su i odakle stvarni korisnici. Problem s ovim modelom djelovanja, međutim, nastaje onda kad se sva njegova slojevitost stavi samo i isključivo u službu proizvodnje i plasmana novih predmeta, odnosno kada jedna u osnovi dobra ideja postane isključivo nositelj tržišne prepoznatljivosti. Tada iza trenutačno pomodne fasade učenja iz moderne i pred-moderne tradicije, iza jednako pomodne dizajnerske reinterpretacije lokalne baštine, iza kontekstualnog istraživanja i šarmantnih mikronarativa, nerijetko ostanu puke tričarije, hrpa semantički brbljivih i oku ugodnih, ali zapravo nikome pretjerano potrebnih “stvari”. Nemojmo si laskati, u porasloj tržišnoj ponudi domaćeg dizajna ima puno tričarija, puno suvenira koji fingiraju upotrebnu vrijednost, puno zgodnih rješenja za probleme koji uopće ne postoje, puno konformizma i vrlo malo ambicije za suočavanje sa stvarnim, svakodnevnim problemima.

To ne znači da njihovi autori nisu dobri, dapače ponekad i izvrsni dizajneri, već samo da njihov potencijal, nažalost, ostaje uvelike neiskorišten. Iako svoj dio odgovornosti tu nesumnjivo nosi i dizajnerska zajednica, ne može joj se predbaciti manjak angažmana i zagovaranja dizajna. Problem je da još uvijek, kontinuirano, drugi akteri – prvenstveno tu mislimo na široku sferu državne uprave, agencija, javnih poduzeća, lokalne uprave – ne prepoznaju smisao i ulogu dizajna. Disciplina koja bi svojim djelovanjem trebala obuhvaćati sve sfere svakodnevnog života i dalje se najprisutnijom osjeća u sigurnim oazama neovisne kulturne produkcije ili maloserijske proizvodnje, reproducirana u lifestyle magazinima ili izložena na policama dizajn shopova. Čak je i dva i pol desetljeća stara zamisao usustavljivanja vizualnog identiteta države autora Borisa Ljubičića jedva prokrijumčarena, zapravo kao kolegijalan dizajnerski hommage, u identitet pristupanja Hrvatske Europskoj uniji. Drugim riječima, struka je dosegla određeni kulturni i društveni status, dizajn i dizajneri su se emancipirali, ali to njihovu poziciju nije učinilo ništa manje usamljenom. Zato to što govorimo o snazi i kapacitetima lokalne dizajnerske scene – a hrvatska dizajnerska scena nedvojbeno jest iznimno snažna – i dalje ne znači da govorimo i o dozreloj kulturi dizajna.

Umreženost je omogućila nove kanale diseminacije, distribucije, a posljednjih nekoliko godina i financiranja vlastitih projekata putem, primjerice, crowdfundinga. Etabliraniji inozemni dizajneri, poput nedavnog zagrebačkog gosta Neila Poultona vide ovo kao odličan alat za sve dizajnere, a ne samo za one u usponu, ali zasad se čini da crowdfunding još uvijek u domaćoj sredini baš i nije uzeo maha ni kod dizajnera, a ni kod potencijalnih potrošača-naručitelja-mecena. Neke radove nastale putem ovih platformi bilo bi zanimljivo vidjeti možda već na idućoj bijenalnoj Izložbi hrvatskog dizajna.

Društvene mreže i servisi za samopromociju pomogli su dizajnerima da razmjerno lako postignu vidljivost u krajnje demokratičnom, stimulativnom i uglavnom vrlo ugodnom okruženju, bez obzira tko su i odakle dolaze. Šareni svijet online portfolija je lijepo mjesto za izgradnju samopouzdanja, za stvaranje i učvršćivanje malih zajednica i inicijativa, za razmjenu određenih znanja, ponekad i za nalaženje klijenata, za crpljenje inspiracije, za prepoznavanje uzoraka. Kao i na bilo kojem drugom mjestu, i ovdje će se naći i ono najbolje i ono najlošije. Dizajneri komuniciraju, prate se i ugledaju jedni u druge vjerojatno više nego ikad prije, i to je divno. S druge strane, ozbiljan nedostatak ovakvih platformi je izostanak stvarnog i temeljitog kritičkog diskursa – dizajneri gledaju jedni u druge, rade radove koji će se svidjeti drugim dizajnerima, mišljene dizajnerskim meta-jezikom, isporučene u lijepim, dizajniranim sličicama. Čudno, taman kad je izgledalo kao da se dugogodišnjim zagovaranjem raskrstilo sa zabludom o dizajnu kao nekoj vrsti završnog stylinga, odjednom je sad sve opet postalo – styling.

Proizvod koji izgleda najljepše, koji najvještije piše najnovijom tipografijom, koji govori u najpametnijim dizajnerskim referencama i priča najčarobnije priče, nije uvijek najbolji proizvod. Izazov pred današnjim dizajnerima, koji raspolažu s više alata, znanja, informacija, resursa i trikova nego bilo tko od njihovih prethodnika, bit će u nadvladavanju zavodljivih zamki samoreprezentacije. U izrazito kompetitivnom i narcisoidnom okruženju to je veliki izazov. U onom malo širem okruženju, koje treba njihovu pomoć, ekspertizu i suradnju s ostalim akterima, to je i velika odgovornost.
 

English

The Troubles of Self-Representation by Marko Golub, taken from The Croatian Design Exhibition 1314 catalogue – Croatian Design Review 1314

The catalogue before you is a hefty volume. This is the case because it contains a lot of very good design. Since HDD’s first biennale exhibition in 1999, the Croatian design scene has matured significantly, it has grown in quality and in terms of numbers, the number of schools that educate young designers has increased, and generationally the scene is constantly young, fresh and mostly in a good mood. The exhibition itself, on the other hand, has remained in a traditional review format, rather rigid in the classification of works into highly discrete categories (visual communications, products, fashion, electronic media, conceptual, spatial graphics and signalization), with a proverbially equally strict jury that truly tries to carefully select only those works that will represent the best standards of design production. The structural rigidity has its reasons since it was important, from the very beginning, that the exhibition enable an easy reading and diagnosis of the state of each field of design. To be more precise, it was important that the exhibition not hide the stagnation of one segment of production with the triumphant results of another. Complex works on the border of several categories are usually considered and demonstrated in the aspect in which they proved most successful. The exhibition is still to a dominant extent an exhibition of objects, not always completely shedding light on their context or the reasons and processes of their creation in a plastic manner. It does not directly tell the story, but provides the elements from which the story can be construed.

A cursory examination, for instance, makes it clear that the production in the field of visual communications is still quantitatively superior compared to the other fields, and most stable in terms of quality. The middle generation took the stage with a characteristic restrained dignity, and is more inclined to retain the recognizable elements of already formed authorial languages, whereas the youngest generation is more open to experiments, it is more self-confident and emboldened by the competences it obtained in the Đurek-Bralić typographic school, whose impact is very much felt in both the student and the professional categories. A specific aspiration toward sophistication is also apparent in visual communications – few play the obvious card; a well-thought through, informed, evocative, and associative design is valued, eloquent in its references, without excessively visceral elements. Part of the designers consciously usurp and recycle patterns of vernacular and street culture, and most are prone to experiment, at least a bit, with the media of print, books and other formats. Just as in earlier years, most works are for clients from the field of independent and institutional culture. The presence of advertising agencies is relatively low and precious, and they are mostly represented with works from the context of culture and humanitarian pursuits, which is a shame, since it is precisely this type of exhibition that should foster a more compelling section of commercial works, which at times should be observed from a different, but no less relevant vantage point. Though represented in a somewhat smaller scope than in earlier years, the student selection once again contains some of the best works of the entire exhibition, mostly in the field of book design and typography, but also product design. Together with the previous exhibition (1112), this year’s student selection confirms that an exceptionally significant and unusually mature generation of young designers is coming of age. Also, it is worth noting that in addition to the Zagreb University School of Design and the Department for Visual Communications Design of the Split Art Academy, as the two high profile and by far most influential study programmes, and the Zagreb University School of Textile Technology, Agora Open University, and the University of Rijeka Academy of Applied Arts, the very promising Design School of the University North in Koprivnica has also entered the design scene, albeit only symbolically for now, whose results we will surely have the chance to witness as early as at the next exhibition.

The vast majority of works represented in the professional category of product design are self-initiated, with a prominent presence of only two major manufacturers, fully expected – Kvadra and the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Artisan – which in recent years fortified their status on the market and which are worth pointing out as an example since they communicate an important message to the rest of the industry that without design and recognizable products, it can at best only continue to barely subsist. While in the public consciousness these examples have been very much present for a while now – just as their relatively widely exposed products and media sensations – an adequate response was lacking. We have only witnessed episodes of deafening panic – panic due to EU accession, panic due to the arrival of Ikea, panic due to a lack of state incentives, panic, panic, panic. A part of the responsibility lies with national institutions and the quiet termination of the National Design Strategy, but a part also lies with a lack of awareness of the fact that re-industrialisation cannot be implemented in isolation from the wider social context. It is precisely the “fetishes” of mass industrial production and the national economy that are part of the problem. The relations between the manufacturer, designer, distributor and consumer have changed dramatically on a global scale and such a situation requires responses, the creation of new systems, new hierarchies and new relations. It is the designers that must participate in the design of such systems, taking into consideration not only economic, but also ethical parameters, which are chronically absent from the discourse on design as the accelerator of economic growth and competitiveness, especially in times of crisis.

The recent production in the field of product design has also been marked by a tendency of developing one’s own brands, launching one’s own production in small series, cooperating with trades and crafts businesses and finding alternative methods of distributing products to the international market. This phenomenon should not be viewed as an ascent of a new lucrative hybrid species of the designer-entrepreneur, but rather as an indicator of the fact that the designers themselves are in search of more functional, more founded, more just, and even more understandable frameworks and systems of activity. Consciously or not, all of them are trying to understand, on a small scale, what it is that they are doing, for whom, with whom, what the true needs are, where the real resources are, and who the real users are and where they come from. The problem with this model of activity, however, occurs when all of its stratification is utilised exclusively for production and the placement of new products, that is when a basically good idea becomes solely the carrier of market recognisability. It is then that behind the currently fashionable facade of learning from the modern and pre-modern tradition, behind the equally fashionable design reinterpretation of local heritage, behind the contextual research and charming micro-narratives, all that remains are merely tatty trinkets, a pile of semantically voluble and visually pleasing “things” that no one has a particular use for. Let us not flatter ourselves; the increased market supply of domestic design is filled with trinkets, numerous souvenirs that feign to have a practical value, many nice-looking solutions for problems that do not even exist, a lot of conformism and very little ambition for confronting real everyday issues.

This does not mean that their designers are no good, on the contrary – at times they are even excellent designers, but their potential, unfortunately, remains unused to a great extent. Although part of the responsibility for this undoubtedly lies with the designer community, we cannot place blame with it for a lack of engagement or advocating design. The problem is that still, continuously, other stakeholders – primarily the wide sphere of state administration, agencies, public companies, local governments – fail to recognise the purpose and role of design. A discipline that should comprise all spheres of everyday life is still most present in the safe havens of independent cultural production or small-scale production, reproduced in lifestyle magazines or displayed on the shelves of design shops. Even the two-and-a-half decade old idea of systematising the visual identity of the country by Boris Ljubičić was barely implemented, more as a collegial design homage than anything else, into the identity of the Croatian accession to the European Union. In other words, the field of design reached a certain cultural and social status, design and designers have become emancipated, but this has not made their position any less lonely. Just because we now have a strong local design scene – and the Croatian design scene is undoubtedly exceptionally strong – this does not mean that we have a mature design culture.

Networking has enabled new channels of dissemination, distribution, and in the last several years also the financing of projects via, for instance, crowdfunding. More established foreign designers, like Neil Poulton, who recently paid a visit to Zagreb, see this as a great tool for all designers, and not just for those getting started, but for now it seems that crowdfunding has not quite taken on domestically, both with designers and potential consumers-clients-benefactors. It would be interesting to see works created via such platforms at the next biennale exhibition of Croatian design.

Social networks and self-promotion services have helped designers to achieve visibility relatively easily in an extremely democratic, stimulating and mostly very pleasant environment, no matter who they are and where they come from. The vibrant world of online portfolios is a nice place to build one’s self-confidence, to create and consolidate small communities and initiatives, to exchange specific knowledge, occasionally even to find clients, to draw inspiration, to recognise patterns. As anywhere else, here one can find the best and the worst offered. Designers communicate, follow each other and look up to one another more than ever before, and that is wonderful. On the other hand, a substantial deficiency of such platforms is the lack of a real and fundamental critical discourse – designers observe one another, create works that other designers will like, conceived in a designer meta-language, delivered in pretty designed little images. Oddly, just when it seemed that long-time advocacy has led to an end of the misconception of design as some sort of final styling, suddenly all has once again become – styling.

A product with the most beautiful appearance, that uses the latest typography most skilfully, that speaks in the smartest design references and tells the most magic stories is not always the best product. The challenge before today’s designers, who have more tools, knowledge, information, resources and tricks at their disposals than any of their predecessors, will be to overcome the seductive traps of self-representation. In an extremely competitive and narcissistic environment, this is a great challenge. In the wider environment, which needs their assistance, expertise and cooperation with other stakeholders, it is an even greater responsibility.

—Translated by Mirna Herman Baletić (Language Lab)

 

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