Designers Rescuing Small Trades and Crafts in Zagreb

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Designers and small businesses join forces

How to revive the world of craftsmen and craftswomen and how to re-open spaces that are empty? That was the question posed by young designers gathered under the name the Oasis Art Organization when they launched the Ilica project two years ago. Six of them, Roberta Bratović, Maša Poljanec, Tina Ivezić, Ivana Borovnjak, Nina Bačun and Maja Kolar, first mapped the small trades and crafts shops in Ilica Street in Zagreb, and then they organized the Old School educational program, which tries to revive craft technologies through interactive workshops and events, reports Večernji List on February 27, 2016.

“The idea was to activate the spaces which now are empty by having 26 craftspeople from Ilica Street who have expressed their wish to participate in the project hold various workshops. So far, we have done a kind of pilot project with shoemaker Stipan Josić, and together we have made some modifications to his existing range of services”, says Maja Kolar. They have also organized a course in male haircutting at the barber shop owned by Ivan Prgomet. They wrote down everything they have done and learned during the project in the book “The Register of Holders of Knowledge”, which was presented last week.

“The book was published in only a few copies so it is not for sale. We are looking for donors to print further copies and to prepare a catalogue”, says Kolar, adding that they hope to connect the remaining craftsmen, implement educational programs and explore new products in the form of objects, services and scenarios, and bring them together under one brand which they call “Made In”.

The new products, produced together by craftsmen and local residents, with the assistance of designers as moderators, would be sold in currently empty shops in Ilica. The long-term goal of the project, which will include products made only with materials purchased in Ilica, is to create a functional business model which will promote values and resources of local people.

“In order for the project to be implemented, we need help from the city authorities and possibly from the Chamber of Crafts in Zagreb. It is also necessary to solve property ownership issues because most of the shops are locked”, say the young designers. The project was made in a way which makes it easy to transfer it to the regional level and move it to town centres that have similar social and cultural problems.


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