The event schedule for this year’s Design District Zagreb festival, to be held from June 13th to June 18th, has been presented today at the media conference the participants of which were Martina Bienenfeld, the director of Zagreb Tourist Board, Anja Jelavić, the head of the Office for International Cultural Cooperation and European Affairs at the Ministry of Culture, Ira Payer, the creative director of the festival, Maja Subotić Šušak, the director of the festival’s Green Program, and Bojan Mucko, member of the program team.
At the very beginning, Ira Payer stated that she greatly looks forward to the festival’s new edition, which will, along with last year’s popular events and content, also offer a greater focus on the green program, which will give all the visitors a new view of the neighborhood. The truly varied content will allow visitors to experience a new dimension of the often neglected and unused public spaces. In this way, Design District becomes a creative zone that gathers numerous individuals, local partners that work and act in the neighborhood. „Design District Zagreb continues with the affirmation of new ways of consuming culture in the public space, with the cooperation of all the local cultural protagonists, and nurturing an encouraging atmosphere for visitors of all ages and interests.“
The central part of this year’s festival will be the Ratkaj Passage, which will be transformed into Green Ratkaj. “In our wish to make the city a more comfortable and better place to live, we have greened up the Ratkaj Passage in order to encourage the citizens to think about and participate in making decisions about the quality of the urbanization and green surfaces. Green Ratkaj has been conceptualized as a simulation of an ideal, sustainable city fitting a human being, satisfying all the needs for a better quality of life – in the social, ecological, and economic sense. We wanted to demonstrate how we can use resources in an observant and functional way in order to transform city spaces into places to relax and socialize in. The central part of Green Ratkaj are the mobile urban green garden installations, which point to “public”, “available”, and “sustainable”, and demonstrate how the public space can become a place of education and production, not only consummation. Apart from the green garden, there’s also a pop-up forest that indicates at the importance of green surfaces in a city (they absorb harmful gas emissions, reduce the effect of noise and precipitation runoff, protect from dust, regulate the humidity of the air) and the need of people to spend time in nature. Sustainability as an important factor for a healthy city is demonstrated by the DIY plastic recycling machine program (mulching, ropemaking, and melting machines and the press) by the Dutch designer Dave Hakkens and his Precious Plastic project.”, said Maja Subotić Šušak, the director of the green program, who is, along with architect Iva Peručić, also the co-author of the concept for Green Ratkaj. In addition to what is said, Green Ratkaj will also include relaxation and socializing areas, where everyone will have access to “public social games” such as chess, jenga, yahtzee, and table tennis.
The part of the program named “Urbanist Interface” was created by architects Dino Belamarić and Dafne Berc, Bojan Mucko, cultural anthropologist and new-media artist, and Ivan Zaninović, student of architecture. The name “Design District Zagreb”, besides denoting the festival, also denotes the part of town between Draškovićeva, Vlaška, Držićeva, and Zvonimirova streets. Before and after the festival, the neighborhood is temporarily or permanently utilized by various everyday protagonists, residents, tenants, strategic institutions, informal citizen initiatives, citizen organizations… That’s why we have, in the preparatory phase, met some of them and analyzed the aforementioned part of the town together, from several detected user perspectives: health, cultural, and residential-communal.
The gathered insights will be communicated to the audience in the format of a workshop and a discursive program during this year’s festival. The aim of the workshop is creating narratives that oppose the simplistic logic of branding, and depict the reach of Design District as an area of various different, often irreconcilable paradigms, as a living space in which factography and fiction blend. The discursive program aims to grant visibility to various protagonists in the neighborhood not necessarily linked to the commercial or the creative sector, and whose activity we recognize as an important factor for the quality of life in the neighborhood.”, said Bojan Mucko, member of the program team.
One of the participants of the festival is the Creative Europe Desk at the Ministry of Culture, via a program that will present the creativity hubs of Europe. “It is a very encouraging form of business practice, which gathers creatives and artists and lets them create, exchange ideas, and connect in a business environment. They work as idea incubators, and are a place where creative potential meets capital and business vision. We found that there has been a growing interest in this kind of work and networking in the Republic of Croatia, but also a lot of space for the improvement of already existing models. One of the bases for the success of any creative hub is – sharing. The sharing of thoughts, knowledge, experience, and contacts. And since each hub approaches business in a different way, we have chosen the representatives of some of the more different hubs from EU to pay us a visit and share with us their stories.
The first part of the program is called Creative Morning, and is meant for a wide audience, and the other is called Creative Networking, and is aimed at those who work in or want to start a hub. It has been a pleasure being part of the Design District festival manifestation, which contributes to the spread of awareness about cultural and creative industries, their strengthening and expansion, through their dedicated work and professional attitude.”, said Anja Jelavić, the the head of the Office for International Cultural Cooperation and European Affairs at the Ministry of Culture.
The Zagreb Tourist Board actively supports the realization of the festival once again. “Zagreb, as the capital, is in a way a trend-setter in Croatia’s culture and tourism, and I’m glad that this unique, urban development-affirming festival is being held. Design District Zagreb proved itself as an ideal platform for further improving the visibility and spreading consciousness about the importance of creative initiatives in the economy and in society in general, and I am especially happy to see that, this year, we are presenting Piece of Zagreb on a fitting exhibition.
This will be an opportunity to see new ways of thinking about and creating authentic Zagreb souvenirs with the cooperation of Zagreb’s designers, applied artists, artisans, and the tourist sector, all naturally inclined towards design due to its interdisciplinary nature.”, said Martina Bienenfeld, the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board.
In addition, the festival will be including truly varied content: we would like to point out the Neighborhood In Person exhibition by the young photographer and designer Marija Gašparović, which will be held on the ground floor of the Old Military Hospital in 87 Vlaška Street, and includes the portraits of a number of residents of Martićeva Street – designers, architects, moviemakers, curators, culture workers, businessmen – who work or live in this neighborhood.
The Krešimirac exhibition by Sonja Leboš and Dino Igrec, on the other hand, will, through several hand-picked paintings, show the urban dynamics of the King Petar Krešimir IV Square, today Zagreb’s largest square, appearing in the 1930s. Fans of art will definitely be happy to see the exhibition by Pavao Pavlović and Mak Melcher, the winner of the Iva Vraneković award at last year’s Youth Saloon. The exhibition will be held in the 3.14 Gallery.
Visitors will be able to join the rich workshop program, and choose an experience that fits their affinities: through the Street Wisdom program in every neighborhood streets, they can find inspiration and the answer to their life, business, or private dilemmas; the Hacking IKEA contest will be searching for a unique, funny, and unexpected solutions that personalize the objects in the environment and attune them to new habits, needs, or wishes.
Besides that, you will be able to try yourself at writing architecture critique, making a comic strip-greeting card, creating a docufictional storyboard in the form of a fanzine, or making chinaware. With the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Croatia, we are bringing a special festival guest – Sepehr Mousavi, a renowned sustainable development strategist and agroecologist from Plantagon, world’s leader in urban agritecture.
As part of the Pop-up Fablab Croatia program, you will be able to test out some virtual and expanded reality technologies, experiment with bio-sensors, digitalize your drawings and transfer them onto recycled materials, make impressions in clay, draw with crazy tooth-brushes, etc. One day will be dedicated to the Designathon workshop.
This time, the participants will tackle the problem of future cities, focusing on living space, transport, and playing grounds, and some of the participants will be the representatives of the Designathon Works organization from Netherlands. DDZ also cares about the youngest – they will have an opportunity to see authentic Croatian toys and play with them, test the traditional textile dyeing techniques using plants that grow in the neighborhood, or make chinaware items; a special program named The Little Print Shop is aimed at children with special needs, and teaches printing. During the festival, Booksa will expand into the open – as part of the Booksa program, all visitors will have a chance to enjoy the small publisher book fair, fairy tale readings, book presentations, exhibitions, and concerts.
Furthermore, this year’s Design District Zagreb includes a whole slew of installations and interventions in public space, expertly-guided architectural tours, and many more, including an ice-cream design workshop!
The Design District Zagreb festival was realized in cooperation with the Zagreb Tourist Board and the support from The City of Zagreb, Adris Foundation, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, as well as HEP, Toyota, and Somersby.