On behalf of all artworks that applied for the last and the fourth competition within the project First Independent at Zvono, three winners were selected. Those winners are Aida Hadžimusić, art historian and two students of the fourth year of production design Jasenka Džanković and Lamija Radončić who applied to this competition together. Jasenka Džanković and Lamija Radončić are students of the fourth year of production design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, who show through their work a desire that products of everyday usage should not necessarily be a part of the serial production and an element of mere information, but should be seen as a result of creative thinking sprung from the attempt to make a deeper connection between the item and its user. Comparative literature and art history post-graduate student Aida Hadžimusić shows maturity and an analytic thinking through a multidisciplinary approach to themes she researches. With the same attention and knowledge, Aida writes about impressionistic and analytic painting, but also about themes connected to contemporary art. One of the winners of this competition, Aida Hadžimusić writes for Sarajevo Times, carefully describing the art works of two exceptionally talented artists, Lamija and Jasenka.
By: Aida Hadžimusić
You may argue the origin, importance, role and purpose of art, but one thing is sure that today it is a matter of choice. Its ritual imaginary does not invite us to participate in the cave of Altamira, nor does it provoke religious contemplation of people at altars. Today we chose whether we want to go to the museum, to the theater or to an exhibition. It seems that design is the only exception here. Although a trip to a museum is a thing of personal preference or mere love or interest for art, we do not have many options when it comes to coffee cups at a favorite cafe, little house utensils or chairs in public transportation. In comparison to all other art, design does literally encompass everything, from a needle to locomotive of our everyday life.
So all-encompassing, design risks having its art’s value undermined. The standardization of chairs, coffee cups, umbrellas or furniture has automatized our perception, so we do forget that except of them being the item of our everyday usage, these items can express and send out the cultural codes which are skillfully hidden in their usage value. It seems that, for example, there is not a more neutral action than that of sitting, except that the person lifted the weight of its body from its legs to its behind and in that way marked a change in the position of the body in space. But if this is truly so, why the throne added to a king’s chair already offers certain implications of power, specificity or admiration? While fast-food chairs are intended only for a ” quick meal”, the chairs at lounge bars invite us to relax, lie down and rest.
Chairs by Jasenka and Lamija, both in their own way, research the formal, structural, modular, practical but also semantic possibilities of this item. Both artists were faced with the challenge of constructing an item out of natural materials. In her chair, Jasenka researched the possibility of construction from a skeleton and massive system. Made with the logic of simplexity construction, this chair looks rather complicated, although it was made out of two equal parts that were turned differently and glued with zinc compound, by cutting and gluing together. This item does not only pay attention to its modularity, but also takes into consideration the final addition of the user, when the item gets its full meaning. User-friendly chair was designed in a way that it bends slightly forward and in that way supports the lower part of the spine, which is especially comfortable during long hours sitting in front of the computer. The quality of Lamija’s chair is also in its simplicity of form and the continuity of its shape. Without seals in some parts, the chair was made by a technique of gluing battens, but in a way to show their ornamental treatment. With this, a very simple and contemporary shape of a chair presents motives that can be found on Bosnian carpets.
Jesus Christ, seeing an orphan drinking water out of his hands, threw his water pot. The Prophet considered the simplest shape made out of natural material as superfluous and instead of it chose God’s design. On the other hand, French empire style with its organic shapes does run away from the simplicity of the form. Both of these just implicate to the least a different lifestyle. With glasses and eating utensils we also eat a certain way of thinking, along with the food. With coffee or food we get served at least one cultural implication. Culture dictates the sitting posture, how fast we eat and the contents of the menu. This is the same culture that feminists object because it centers a man in the public, and sentences a woman on house chores and raising children. But how to reconcile the traditional picture of a woman, a mother, a housewife and cook with the contemporary cultural picture of a carrier lady and a diva?
Lamija Radončić does reconcile two ideological constructs of femininity by designing an apron. With organic forms and allusions to filigree works, Lamija’s work de-automatizes the old perception of a conventional cooking apron. Although her apron sticks out with tortuous form and attracts more attention to its appearance than function, this item has one more value. In the design of this apron Lamija succeeded to reconcile the form and interesting amiability with pure simplicity. Her apron, except from attracting attention with its presence, is very simple to wear. With a similar idea, Lamija also designed Chef’s Hat. Although they are items that seemingly do not have any potential to have any usage value, behind them is a research on the problem of standardized Chef Hats that led to this creative solution. With the change of the conventional form, the conventional behavior also changes. Lamija does not see a cook wearing a conventional Chef Hat, so she adds this item a decorative hair band, with which she connects the usage value and its decorative function.
Fashion is the best example that we buy certain things because they exist and not for their practical function. Marx’s fetishism enables us to want and value a connotative value. The myth of a little black dress, evening gown or a black jacket is always more important that its practical value. That is why the communication triangle designer-product-user is not any different from the author-work- observer triangle. The narratives which speak of items are one of the ways to secure emotional value, and the emotion which, instead of form, follows the function is an aspect that Lamija and Jasenka especially emphasize in their designs. Self-design, a space in which the artist intentionally leaves a room for creative intervention is especially emphasized in Jasenka’s shopping bags. Cut in a way that it always changes the shape depending on its contents, the material always adjusts to costumers’ needs.
From modularity and ornamental treatment of chairs to the apron which attracts with its decorative presence, Lamija and Jasenka research the extreme possibilities of the design. Even when the design sets the extreme challenge of combining geometry and organic quality, these artists solve this conflict in the design of a tea-pot and cornflakes bowl. The design where seemingly opposing geometric and organic quality is merged together, the function and the esthetics takes into consideration the user, where this design fulfils its final purpose. Especially shopping bags, which adjust to every customer emphasize this aspect and justify what an Italian designer Enzo Mari wrote about design: ”Everyone should design: after all, it is the best way to avoid being designed. ”