Belgrade Design Week Festival 2014

“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 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

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I am still puzzled over the question whether there are no rules in Belgrade or nobody obeys rules. Whatever the case, both are perfect for the creation of great ideas and great plans. I met inspiring people. Some of them are genius. The people with whom I want to realize some of the ideas and plans that rooted during the BDW. One day we will say: and it all started in Belgrade.