Young designers at Belgrade Fair
Ms. Marija Kojic is a young designer from Belgrade, a participant at last year’s Belgrade Furniture Fair and a winner of the 2018 Golden Key Nomination for the “Turning Point” project, a multifunctional space system for preschool children. In 2019, Maria presented the “Emotions Corner” project realized in cooperation with the Djokovic Foundation with the idea of creating a corner, a solitary place for children in kindergartens. She also participated in the Design Talks program in which she introduced herself as a young designer and talked about her professional experience. We present to you Marija Kojic.
Marija, do tell us a few things about yourself, both professional and personal ones you’d like to reveal to us?
I was incredibly fortunate to spend my early childhood in the countryside. I think that such freedom pretty much determined my personality and my attitude towards work later in life.
How did you opt for product design?
I have not opted for just one area of work. I am also engaged in space, graphic design… I had the opportunity to write a script for a film, it was a dream come true because directing was the path I wanted to pursue when I was at college. I like experimenting because I learn to think and solve different problems.
You have been presented with the 2018 Golden Key Nomination for the Game Tent Project entitled the Turning Point. What is this project all about?
The game tent is one of the three functions of such spatial system. It is basically a work space for twelve children and by using two different canvases, the purpose is changed and turned into either a space in which children’s works are on display or a game tent. It is intended for preschool children and it solves, that is, meets the needs of children and not those of adults.
How did you come up with the idea of doing what you did?
Before I plunged into design business, I conducted research on the subject. I toured kindergartens, talked to everyone who works with children, parents. One part of that research was conversation I had with myself, trying to remember what was important to me as a child. All which coincided with the memories of my friends and colleagues became crucial design points. It was important to understand the problem that I wanted to offer a solution to.
What does this award mean to you?
Whether we’re talking about an award I received at the Fair, or in general, it’s always an enjoyable experience. It may be cool for a biography, but at the end of the day, many other things tell you whether what you are rewarded for is good, cost-effective, functional, or whatever.
This year you put a new project on display. Do tell us a little more about this?
It is a mere combination of circumstances, I had no intention of exhibiting this project, I had absolutely no intention of putting it on display. My colleagues told me that a small number of designers had applied, so I got involved. I think it’s important that more colleagues participate, because that’s how we create a community. That was the conclusion at this year’s Design talks.
As for the project itself, it was realized in collaboration with the Djokovic Foundation with the idea of creating a corner, a kind of solitary place for children in kindergartens. I would repeat myself now if I would say that kindergartens are, in many cases, designed to meet the expectations of parents. By creating areas within the existing rooms and by using semi-transparent canvases, we had the idea of giving our children more freedom, to encourage them to talk or exchange experiences, play, better understand themselves and others.
How do people respond to your design and to your work in general? Would you perform something else? Have you reached some conclusions and how much do you learn from their reactions?
Very often, during the work process, I talk about my projects with family, colleagues, neighbors and their comments are very important to me because they indicate a problem that I did not see myself. I was really pleased with how the kids reacted to the Turning Point, because you can’t just come out and explain to them that it’s good for them because of the new rules, materials, they’re quite honest users.
Young people need to be outward-looking and follow what is happening on a particular market …
I think that is very important, every idea should be put in the context in which it should live.
What advice would you give to yourself as a young individual?
I’m experiencing myself even now as a young person (laughter), so I tell myself to follow my instincts more.