SUPERLOCAL CRAFTING THE EVERYDAY

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The City Centre of Zagreb is characterized by inevitable gentrification processes that are especially affecting marginalized groups, including craftspeople, freelance artists and designers. The basic premise of the Old School Ilica project launched by design collective OAZA in 2013 (nanotourism, BIO50) was to commence communication with craftspeople and small manufacturers on the longest street in Zagreb, in order to support their economic situation by producing some of the self-initiated design products. The project soon outgrew its initial intentions and now proposes a bottom up model for the development of a self-sustainable local community whose currency is the exchange of knowledge, that is, the education of both designers and craftspeople and the general public, through various workshop formats. In order to raise the methodology from a theoretical level, OAZA invited The SUPERLOCAL project, initiated by Andrea de Chirico, who uses a similar approach to local manufacturing, and also considers the capabilities of digital technologies and emerging makers communities.

Six groups of young designers were, through a period of several months in collaboration with craftspeople, working on various topics and have raised important questions about: the values and use of local tools and materials and their repurposing; the importance of building close relationships within the community; intersections in production processes and material capacities of different workshops; authorship in the crafts-design collaboration processes; the meaning of preservation of old forms of products and media. Projects in the form of concepts, narratives and experiments are intended to contribute to the debate on establishing new models of collaboration that address the activation of urban production.

#1 BULRUSH TALKS BY ANDREJA LOVREKOVIĆ, ELA MESELDŽIĆ IN COLLABORATION WITH STJEPAN ZAGORŠČAK WICKERWEAVING AND VESNA HRKAČ OF KNJIGOVEŽNICA1924

Bulrush is a plant that grows in wetlands. In Northern Croatia, in the vicinity of Lepoglava, it is part of a number of stories related to the historical, social and economic context. Today, these stories are conveyed by the Zagorščak family, who is involved in the entire cycle of the bulrush plant; from searching for it in the surrounding villages, picking, drying, and finally weaving it on the loom.
The focus of the Bulrush Talks project is on optimizing the process that takes place after the harvest: traditional weaving on the loom is replaced with the production of a new material obtained from remains of the bulrush plant, or that of a poorer quality. The process of mixing them with binders has resulted in new composite materials which propose the potential contemporary uses of bulrush plant. The accompanying cookbook contains simple processes of material production from the leftover of bulrush plant mixed with various binding agents and natural colorings.

#2 TALKING OBJECTS BY SARA DOBRIJEVIĆ AND MARIN NIŽIĆ IN COLLABORATION WITH ALDO AND LOVRO KRIZMAN (MALA ARTA CERAMICS STUDIO), DRAŽEN AND LUKA RADOTOVIĆ (HAVEL METAL FORMING)

Talking Objects is a project based on three methodology stages: Reflecting, Imagining, and Crafting. Reflecting is about talking. Stories craftspeople carry with themselves mark the workshops’ life as much as their own. What can be created from just having a chat? Imagining is about conceptualizing. Connecting the semantics of a story with an object. How to translate it as honestly as possible? Crafting is about making. A craftsperson creating a narrative object by implementing their production methods. Throughout the process, a variety of feelings, obstacles and conclusions emerged. A prevailing finding was that the anecdotes are reminiscences existent in the memories of the craftspeople, and are not completely truthful. Considering that, we can develop a sense of closeness without crossing boundaries. We achieve this by creating nonexistent tangible materials, and mixing them with existing collected ones, where the narrative embedded in the heart of the particular craft is communicated. The stories remain truthful yet fascinating.
Talking Objects consists of two separate pieces imagined in collaboration with, and crafted by craftspeople — Replica and Hampar.

#3 CUFF BY LUCIJA MANDEKIĆ AND MARKO MIŠKOVIĆ IN COLLABORATION WITH MARIO NOKAJ (LAPIDARIUM JEWELLERY MAKING & FINE METALSMITHING)

Starting from browsing the Lapidarium workshop’s archives, this project questions the boundaries of co-authorship and possibilities of co-creation between designers and craftspeople. Research gives a closer look into the metamorphosis process of using digital manipulation and 3D modelling, by which way new physical properties and symbolic values are added to the collection.
Seven selected originals from the archives were initially scanned and processed through hybrid merging and surface recalculation. These state transformations were followed by variuos experiments that allowed a newly modified ring in its characteristic organic form to appear, distant to its origin. Model was thereafter 3D printed and cast in silver, returning to the jewellers’ hands for manual polishing and becoming a valuable addition to the Lapidarium’ s collection.

#4 TRAVELLING BOOK BY ANĐELA BRNAS AND LUCIJA MATIĆ IN COLLABORATION WITH VESNA HRKAČ (KNJIGOVEŽNICA 1924)

Traveling book conveys the atmosphere of the Bookbindery 1924 craft, through tactile and visual experience of a book and through audio experience of the sounds from the workshop. Process, time and humanity as the main craft concepts, are losing their meaning and values in the contemporary consumer society. Therefore, the intention of the Travelling book project is to encourage people to think critically about the craft status, values, relationships and its future and to transfer the knowledge about the humanity, process of making and time invested in the development of craft products, through interaction with an analogue object. As the book travels together with the MADE IN exhibition, stories from people vis iting the exhibition are gradually building its content, offering different opinions and sharing insights about the craft in general, but also about the bookbinding craft and the future of books in highly digitized society.