Nika Zupanc: "Decorating a house is creating your own story."
Nika Zupanc was interviewed and asked her about her design and what interests her about home decoration.
During her visit to Madrid, where she took part in the From Poetics to Design conference series organized by Cosentino and Room Diseño, we spoke to Slovenian designer Nika Zupanc: author of a surprising array of pieces, including the Lolita and Cherry lamps, the Homework collection for Rosanna Orlandi and installations such as Gone with the Wind, which we discovered at the Milan Furniture Fair in 2010. Feminine elements inspire Nika Zupanc's design to claim a feminine design in a world dominated by men. The designer, whose name is associated with the Lolita lamp, which she designed for Moooi more than a decade ago, says she likes the power of irony and enjoys looking for a particular transgression to dismantle the design of, as she says, "the boys' club.
Zupanc says that he has tried to find a new meaning for objects since the beginning of his career. Playing with irony, he seeks to transgress and demystify the practicality of things. One such design that responds to what Zupanc says is the Cherry lamp. Presented at the Milan Furniture Fair in 2013 and made of blown glass, it is "a simple design to which I wanted to give a new meaning," summarizes the designer. Something similar happened with the Lolita lamp (pictured left) produced by Moooi, whose feminine archetypes, for its rounded shapes and the detail of the lampshade reminiscent of traditional lace, "are reinvented in search of new meanings," says the designer. Zupanc also highlights her collaboration with Rossana Orlandi. "When I met her in Milan, I thought: I'm home." From this relationship was born the limited Homework collection (see next photo), with the table as the protagonist. Those were years in which Zupanc admits she was fascinated by those office filing cabinets.
The Lolita lamp (2008) made you known in industrial design. How do you define your work, and how has it evolved since then?
So many things have happened since Lolita. It was a good start; my first project with the Moooi brand. After that, I started working with Rossana Orlandi, creating limited editions, setting up installations, and collaborating with other companies. I don't have a single defined style. I am interested in looking for timeless elegance in my work. On the other hand, I don't work with just one theme but many, depending on the project and the materials. But I always use something that we all recognize and have in mind, and then I transform it for the design and give it a new meaning or mix it with other icons. Today, we are working in two directions in my studio: product design and interior design. We must add, of course, limited editions and my collection. I love empty spaces, but with objects that have a force of their own. In other words: the minimalism of powerful things. Sometimes, it isn't easy to achieve this at home because of my work, but the truth is that I need ample space with significant elements from which I can see the garden. I am interested in the connection between the exterior and the interior and how to connect them with objects. I believe that the furniture in a house can also express identity, just like our clothes.
In a rapidly changing world, what role can decoration and industrial design play in our lives?
Decorating your home is something very personal. It is a reflection of your own identity. It's like creating your own story. When I design something, I try to tell the story of that object through its material, shape, and color. Therefore, decoration is a personal decision and has to do with showing one's identity, with a theatricalization of real life that offers a look that tells the things that can't be told with words. For example, in the vertical chest of drawers Tower (2017) -see next image-a 2-meter-high tower made with 120 drawers, an architectural game reveals the idea of so many things we have and keep without even knowing where they are. It will be presented in Naples [referring to the Edit Napoli fair, held June 6-9], but I can't wait to take it home!
You live in Ljubljana, close to Germany and Italy, two major design hubs, but at the same time far enough away not to be too influenced by the industry. Why did you choose to stay in that city?
I was born in Ljubljana, which has an extraordinary location because, in addition to Italy, Germany, and Austria, it is also very close to Croatia, Serbia, and the entire Mediterranean coast. On the one hand, I like the idea that you can travel through such varied landscapes, from the Alps to the Mediterranean, in just one or two hours by car. This is very important to unleash my creativity because I need to be connected to nature. On the other hand, because I work for so many companies in Italy, living in Ljubljana allows me to be within easy reach of Milan and other mighty Italian cities in the industry. Therefore, I decided to stay because it seems to me to be a place where you have a quality of life. In such a globalized world, it is essential to have peace of mind when working, and I have it in Ljubljana.
Your collaboration with well-known design companies includes Moooi, Sé, and Moroso. However, you also design and produce your brand, your collection. What are the differences in how you think and work for yourself or others?
It is very different. I have to say that I enjoy working for others because it's a real challenge. When you work for others, you create a restricted environment in which you have to innovate; when you are restricted, you can create something good. On the other hand, if the work is for yourself, you feel more accessible, but working for others is more challenging because you have to adapt to new materials, new production techniques, and new teams of people.