“I have had a certain vision of Serbia my entire life” – to paraphrase General De Gaulle’s famous first sentence, in his “Mémoires de Guerre”, if not too inappropriate a comparison for the profane topic of design. This is the vision of a “society of knowledge”, which firstly requires a culture of knowledge – in my case with the help of my own profession – design. With this idea in mind, ten years ago I started BDW, which today became, arguably and funnily enough, one of the world’s most intriguing and, perhaps even, most respected events of its kind.


What is design?

Basically, everything around us. “It’s not true that we are surrounded only by politics or trade, as it seems when you open a newspaper”Jaime Hayon famously concluded at the 2010 BDW – “That makes only 1%, while 99% is design”. The stuff created by someone to help us with any thinkable function in everyday’s life, cover and protect us, transport us, teach us, feed us… to make us happy, help us evolve, inspire us… Design is a fundamental tool for shaping a society in the 21st century, to support our communities and generate new jobs. The true story of our time is, in fact, that every single creative person is a potential business start-up, which creates new value. A country that doesn’t use these tools is in trouble.

In Serbia, the creative community is victim of of pop culture’s values domination. Rediscovered and reread nowadays, Adorno considered pop culture to be an instrument of economical and political control, which imposes conformity behind its permissive facade. “The culture industry offers the freedom to choose what is always the same”.

And that is why BDW again in 2014, in the worst year of crisis in Serbia: It doesn’t offer “the same”. In the horrible state our country is right now, after millennial floods in the spring, failure to qualify to the football World Cup in summer, the war in Ukraine, ongoing recession and radical but necessary austerity measures, as a society we need to be encouraged and continue to fight for cultural and economic reforms, for progress and, as more important than ever, for a chance to develop our society of knowledge. In this situation, BDW does its part to become a, perhaps, small but reasonable and certainly loud “Mutmacher der Nation” – as the German speakers call it so eloquently – with the task to literary draw a possible different roadmap, a possible new world – as challenge. Better said – as invitation! Punching over its own weight, as ever, mind you, which is another Serbian characteristic anyway.


And BDW is the world!

That’s why our motto this year was “BRAND NEW WORLD”, accurately describing what we did: We invited the world’s best of 2014 to Serbia, carefully selected from over 20 nations and all walks of the global creative industries, and at the same time, presented to the world the best that Serbia has to offer.

For first time in history under High Patronage of the President of the Republic and the Mayor of Belgrade, we presented our complex, but laser-sharp five programs during a packed Design Week: First of all BDW’s world-famous international conference “BRAND NEW WORLD”, for the ninth time in row, which in addition to more than twenty of the creative industries’ global superstar speakers, for the first time, showed the most prominent representatives of the Serbian creative scene in three days – first, the best architects, then the best designers and finally the best communicators in 2014, in a new subprogram called “Serbian Innovation Session”.

In the same time, at the BDW DizajnPark exhibition spread over three floors above the conference, the latest global and local design masters crossed paths in a firework of mutual inspiration, preceded by our cutting edge international workshops for professionals, the PKS DizajnLabs, organised with support of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.


BDW in the heart of Old Belgrade!

All of this took place at a sensational, completely new BDW location, in line with our mission to turn the public attention to neglected icons of local architecture – as we have been doing for the past nine years – at the converted old STAKLOPAN factory in the Dorćol district, which after years of decay we have cleaned, polished and opened just for the duration of the Week, with kind support of the Gorenje corporation.

BDW again staged BDW 100% FutureSerbia, the urban exhibition of fresh local talent, displayed in over 100 shop windows in the city center from Kalemegdan to Slavija. Add to this BDW DizajnPremiers, our vibrant evening vernissage program with openings, VIP dinners and parties, and we are happy to have completed another thoroughbred edition of BDW which, though much smaller in size this year, has exploded throughout the city – thanks to our partners, sponsors, and most of all, our visitors and the fantastic atmosphere they created, in a unique Belgrade fashion.


Why do people love BDW so much?

I think that the real secret of BDW, as perhaps with all truly great personal experiences in the world, is that it enlarges us! You go in to watch, listen, learn and enjoy, which of course you do, but you come out with a whole new set of parameters with which you measure life. It really is that good!!! It may well be that there are bits of BDW that you think may be improved, or bits that you don’t like, but for my money, and I have visited an awful lot of conferences and design weeks, BDW encapsulates THE performance of a conference, THE idea of a conference, better than any other… Because if you can transform a conference experience into high art, then it becomes something completely life enhancing.
And that’s why our THANKS goes to our Alumni – who have lectured, taught, inspired, exhibited and networked at BDW 2014 – you made this little wonder possible again in 2014. You have created a truly BRAND NEW WORLD!
In the name of the fantastic BDW 2014 team, Jovan Jelovac, BDW founder and curator.


The audience must believe what they see.