On Tuesday, May 15, 2018, a panel discussion entitled “Demystifying Europe’s biggest furniture fairs”, organized by the Croatian Chamber of Economy’s Association for Industrial Design, was held as part of Zagreb Design Week. Those on the panel were Creative Director of the Belgrade Furniture Fair Zoran Jedrejčić, Creative Director of Brigada Damjan Geber, Owner of ANCONA Group Markica Stanušić, Industrial Designer and Member of Numen/For Use Nikola Radeljković, Industrial Designer Filip Gordon Frank, Director of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce’s Industry and IT Sector Tatjana Kesić Šapić and Director and Owner of the Mondum brand Kristijan Burek.
Kicking off the panel discussion, Vice-President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Tomislav Radoš pointed out that design is an important driver of industry, the economy, and culture, and that events like Zagreb Design Week help make us a society which understands that.
Director of Belgrade Furniture Fair Zoran Jedrejčić emphasized that the fair in Milan is a must-visit for those who desire to build a brand, but that the fair is extremely difficult to take part in, and that not everyone can showcase their designs with financial support from the chamber. The chamber certainly can, however, contribute to the image of producers from Croatia, which is why it is necessary to continually develop new models of collaboration.
The Croatian Chamber of Commerce co-finances presentations at fairs through a number of models, and showcasing itself needs to be planned at least a year in advance—ideally, two years—in order to secure the best and most visible positions for presenters, explained Kesić Šapić.
Creative Director of Brigada Damjan Geber pointed out that if we plan to build up the country’s culture we need to build up a habit of presenting well, explaining that square meters and the showcasing of furniture, in themselves, are not enough and that we rather need to present experiences and tell stories through interactions with designers. You need to know why you are attending a fair and what your objective is.
Gordon Frank spoke of how he used to see products which fascinated him at international fairs and so with time he himself decided to move into production. He also pointed out that industrial design in Croatia has a difficult time establishing itself and spoke of how hard it was for him to break into more established fairs and find financing to showcase products, while at the same time when something is taken notice of, numerous opportunities arise.
“We began with one product, and today we have numerous ones which we export to over 20 countries around the world. It takes persistence to succeed, you need to continually invest in fairs. The bigger players pay attention but they aren’t quick to make deals”, concluded Burek.