Belgrade Design Week

Today is the final day of Belgrade Design Week. I’ve been soaking it up since Wednesday so here are some of my highlights from the excellent seminar program…

Today is the final day of Belgrade Design Week and the fact that I haven’t blogged about it yet (I’ve been here since Wednesday) is a credit both to the busy schedule of the seminars and after hours exhibitions and events – and also to the warm hospitality of the festival’s host Jovan Jelovac and his team.

Slightly annoyingly, the seminar timetable has, to a large extent gone to pot – as there’s been no strict adherence to the schedule – some speakers have talked for two hours – rather than sticking to their 45 minute slot. So timing arrival at the theatre where the talks are happening with the beginning of the talk you want to attend has been tricky to say the least. However, fear not, I made it to some great talks – so here are some highlights:

On Wednesday, Laurent Fetis explained to his audience that he hadn’t showed his work to press or publicised his work for several years and then proceeded to show dozens of images of some of his work from recent years, which included illustrations, editorial projects, record sleeves and logo designs:


Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) delivered an energetic and insightful talk revealing his studio’s philosophy whilst showing some of it’s biggest projects to date and explaining the design processes for each one.  Ingels approaches each project by thinking about the intended use of the building, the culture of its location and various other factors that seem so obvious and common sensical – yet the work he showed (which included The People’s Building in Shanghai, the Mountain Dwellings project in Copenhagen images below, and his designs for a hotel near Stockholm airport, the three facades of which will display huge portraits of the King, Queen and princess of Sweden) felt radical whilst practical, playful, fresh and highly original.

See more of BIG’s work at

Yesterday Amsterdam-based lawyer Aernoud Bourdrez (who is managing director of Use IP – a law firm specializing in intellectual property and resolving copyright conflicts) delivered a hugely entertaining and well planned presentation which revealed his knowledge of conflict situations and how best to resolve them. To be nice but tough in negotiations was a point Bourdez illustrated with a clip from Pulp Fiction in which Winston Wolf (played by Harvey Keitel, image below) gets John Travolta’s Vincent Vega to clean up the blood and brains spattered on the inside of a car by asking the question: “so pretty please with sugar on top, clean the fucking car.”

Another choice video clip in the presentation was footage of tennis player Michael Chang bamboozling opponent Ivan Lendl in an epic fourth round, five set match at the 1989 French Open tournament.

Then Bourdrez showed another clip (which I can’t find on YouTube) showing Chang again… Chang was facing match point against Lendl’s serve, Lendl faulted Chang then walked forward to the middle of the court to face the oncoming second serve – which seemed like game suicide. But it wound Lendl up so much that his second serve hit the net and Chang won the match. Bourdrez’ point is that you should never assume you’re cleverer or better than your adversary in a conflict… fascinating stuff. Bourdrez’ book on conflict negotiation, Grrr is available at the moment as a free iPad app from iTunes.

A couple of sessions later and Andy Stevens of London graphic design studio Graphic Thought Facility took to the stage and talked about his early design influences, his love of his first Sony Walkman and his mild obsession with finding new ways of printing and using different materials in his work. Anodized printing, extruded aluminium, and cardboard pizza boxes are just some of the materials GFT have incorporated into hugely successful graphic information and wayfinding systems devised for exhibitions at cultural venues inlcuding Manchester Art Gallery and the Frieze Art Fair.

Sadly, Andy was due to spin discs at last night’s evening party, but there were no record decks on which to spin the 7″ records he’d brought along!

Today, David Linderman of Hi-ReS! wowed a packed auditorium with some of his studio’s latest projects – including sites for D&G, The Economist, Massive Attack, and a very funny campaign that takes the form of a rock opera with TV spots, an online game and a call for people to recreate scenes from the rock opera (which is called The Battle For Milkquarious), created with Goodby Silverstein & Partners to promote milk to US teenagers. Linderman showed this TV commercial before showing the site and game:

As well as talking about abstraction and using metaphors to tell stories and create interesting, explorable online environments – using photography, film, motion graphics and animation, Linderman also shared with the audience some of the stuff that the guys at Hi-ReS! circulate round their studio to inspire and amuse themselves. Stuff that is beautiful or just plain funny or stupid. He’s posted up over 300 links to such inspirational findings at – well worth a visit – if this example is anything to go by:

I also sat in on a talk by Spanish-born, London-based designer and artist Jaime Hayon (above is an image of his Mediterrenean Digital Baroque exhibition which ran at David Gill Galleries in London back in 2003) in which Hayon revealed how a combination of seven years at Fabrica in Italy, a love of drawing, and a hunger to create new forms based on everyday observations – has led him to bigger and better projects – designing art installations, chairs, lights, sofas and interiors… I particularly love this bathroom design of his:

Hayon’s work is wonderful so have a look at his site:

Right, it’s time for me to put the laptop away, freshen up for dinner and prepare myself for “the legendary” closing party of the festival…

For more info on Belgrade Design Week, visit the site at


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