Prostoria celebrates Zagreb modernism | Wallpaper*


Few cities in the world boast of such a rich and deeply rooted Modernist architectural tradition as that of Zagreb. The Croatian capital is an imposing portfolio of large-scale Brutalist constructions, public buildings designed in the interwar Modernist style, spectacular memorials or ‘spomeniks’, mid-century socialist town planning and angular, geometric and mixed-use wonders. The city’s awe-inspiring modernist heritage is something that informs and inspires the creative team at Croatian furniture design brand Prostoria, shaping its approach to product design.

So much so that Prostoria has designed a photographic project to celebrate and synergize the extraordinary architecture of Zagreb and the brand’s furniture. Placing particular Prostoria products in front of Modernist monuments, the images are intended to highlight the collective and inspiring role of buildings in terms of form, texture and Modernist ambition.

‘Oblique’ armchair at the town hall in Zagreb. Photography: Jure Zivkovic

The architectural highlights of the team include: the Vatroslav Lisinsky Concert Hall (1958 – 1973, by Marijan Haberle, Minka Jurković and Tanja ZdvoÅ™ak); the House of Socio-Political Organizations, or ‘Kockica’, meaning ‘Little Cube’ (1961 – 1968, by Ivan Vitić); the People’s Assembly, now known as Zagreb Town Hall (1955 – 1959, by Kazimir Ostrogović); The Workers’ and People’s University (1955 – 1961, by Radovan NikÅ¡ić and Ninoslav Kučan, with interiors by Benardo Bernardi); and the Romanian pavilion at the Zagreb fair (1956, by Ressu).

‘Polygon’ armchair at the town hall in Zagreb. Photography: Jure Zivkovic

Prostoria and modernist architecture

“In many parts of the world, modernism was accepted by the general public in the mid-twentieth century only to be rejected in favor of new architectural trends, then re-embraced as an aesthetic substrate from which contemporary individual expressions emerged. “, writes the architect born in Zagreb. and architectural historian Maroje MrduljaÅ¡, presenting the Prostoria project. “For Zagreb, however, modernism has always been an undisputed element and, arguably, key to the city’s urban identity.

“Perseverance paid off,” he continues. “Recently, Croats witnessed the worldwide canonization of Zagreb, Croatian and Yugoslav modernism at the critically acclaimed exhibition ‘Towards a Concrete Utopia’ at MoMA in New York. The enthusiasm for this type of architecture stemmed in part from a widespread fascination with the unfinished project of building a “socialism with a human face”, although it was also based on the real achievements of modernist culture in architecture. and in design.

‘Match’ sofa and ‘Monk’ chair in the Vatroslav Lisinsky concert hall. Photography: Marko Mihaljevic

“Modernism refers to rationality, the absence of dogmatism, openness and the will to research, values ​​which all apply to the ethics and aesthetics of the architecture of the time. It was on the basis of these values ​​that a belief matured in Zagreb during the 1950s and 1960s that there was no fundamental difference between architecture, art and design, ”writes Mrduljaš .

“Prosteria’s photographic series is both a visual experience and a collage of the best works from two different eras. The spatial setting and the stage on which his story is told are well thought out, distanced and refined; Yet Zagreb’s august Modernist architecture of the 1950s and 1960s exudes an almost shocking self-confidence. We encounter an economy of extreme expression, an architecture that speaks through spatial relationships and abstract forms but also through various objects: works of art, interior elements, furniture. We are also impressed by the sheer daring of the time, when architects built a large stage on which the future would be played out, without submitting to general expectations.

‘Absent’ sofa in the Vatroslav Lisinsky concert hall. Photography: Marko Mihaljevic

“These monumental public institutions have more recently hosted exhibitions of contemporary furniture from Prostoria. Although the modernist architecture and products of Prostoria are more than half a century apart, they complement each other, speak a similar language, form a natural bond and are equally uncompromising, ”writes Mrduljaš.

‘Piun’ chair at the Workers’ and People’s University. Photography: Marko Mihaljevic

“These sets do not aim to go back in time, nor to complete a delayed future, but celebrate converging values ​​and continuous exploration. Due to specific social priorities, mid-20th century modernism left behind impressive public architecture, exceptional public art, and exceptional examples of smaller-scale product, project and object design. Prostoria’s products naturally belong to the world of modernist architecture, and they clearly share common values ​​and intellectual origins. ‘

‘Polygone’ armchair at the House of Socio-Political Organizations. Photography: Jure Zivkovic

Prostoria’s products shouldn’t be seen as just “modernist,” and they don’t necessarily belong only to the Zagreb and Croatian design scene, MrduljaÅ¡ explains. The creators, ambitions and reach of the brand are global.

“However,” he adds, “Prostoria does not create in a vacuum, but rather preserves and develops the values ​​of the cultural environment from which it originates. The architecture of Zagreb’s public institutions in the 1950s and 1960s meant much more than the individual buildings themselves: it acted as a mediator between the global culture and the local context, and it changed the identity of the city. by making it more open and modern. . Likewise, Prostoria functions as a platform that allows designers to merge ethics and aesthetics, creating products based on solid values. ‘ §

‘Seam’ sofa in the Romanian pavilion at the Zagreb Fair. Photography: Marko Mihaljevic


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