SOUVENIRS BECOME ART
How would you describe a standard offer of Croatian souvenirs?
RANKA Except for a smaller number of quality products that are locally produced with care and tradition, most souvenirs offered are imported and not of a great quality, they are catered towards mass markets.
IRA Overall in touristic counties most available souvenirs are mass-produced and of low-quality that provides no traditional value. Croatia is no exception. Exciting souvenirs are difficult to come by, there are no standards or rules, although it gives me great joy that in the last few years the market offer in Croatia, especially Zagreb, is changing. There has been a breakthrough of charming, original and thoughtful products, primarily due to projects and ambition of individual designers and an improvement of traditional crafts in promoting their exemplary hand-crafted products.
What is your opinion on the new interpretations of old traditions and motifs in our souvenirs and products?
RANKA Croatian designers often try to incorporate old craftsmanship, traditional materials or techniques into contemporary designs, or try to reinterpret, redesign and reuse traditional objects or customs common to Croatians. This has resulted in excellent products – souvenirs with a twist, as I like to call them.
IRA Traditional craft products provide great opportunities for contemporary interpretations, which is very inspiring for designers. Several products that were created in collaboration between craftsmen and designers resulted in really witty and intelligent interpretations. To name just one- raincoat “Kaplja” inspired by Šestine umbrellas (designed by Ana Rimac in cooperation with craftsmanship Cerovečki).
Which are your favorite souvenir products that can be found in our stores?
RANKA Some of my favorites include Croatia a la carte cooking card game, Croatia as it is bags, Pij! ceramic set, KRTZ! walnut opener, BašČipka hot pot holders, Lavender grinds, Ban in movement / Licitar bags and umbrellas, Brokula&Ž and Lega-Lega brands.
Name your favorite travel destination and an item purchased on the trip
IRA I love to travel through Europe’s large and exciting cities. Usually I buy designer items and food. In Paris, certainly it makes sense to buy macaroons by Pierre Hermé (which unfortunately disappear way too fast but the experience remains). In Amsterdam I bought a romantic paper curtain by Dutch designer Tord Boontje which hangs in my dining room and always reminds me on that trip.
In your opinion do our products satisfy modern market needs?
RANKA Definitely. Good designs are always practical and today incorporation of care for the environment and using local resources is necessary. As for the originality, some of the products are very original while others make up for the lack of creativity through other qualities.
What are the points of improvement regarding traditional products and market needs
IRA First and foremost, it is important to understand the sensibility of the tradition, heritage and local identity, before the market needs. Traditional craft techniques can be reinterpreted in the form of new product design. That does not mean that the products are contemporary or reinterpreted. Craft items, if they are well made and authentic, are wonderful souvenirs (such as Pag lace). Unfortunately it is clear that their existence in the market is uncertain.
What inspired you to open Take me Home design shop?
I saw a gap in the market for the kind of products we are talking about today and wanted to offer something better to Zagreb’s numerous visitors while, at the same time, promoting local products and Croatian designs.
Tell us a little bit about your new project Croatia à la carte
Croatia à la carte is envisioned as a fun social game with traditional recipes and everyday local ingredients in its focus. The rules of the game are quite unique, the playing cards are accompanied by a cookbook, there are detailed recipes and interesting explanations. Already, Croatia à la carte is a complete success among tourists because of their interest in Croatian cuisine.