Described as a “glamour rebel” and known for her feminine objects, Slovenian designer Nika Zupanc loves breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries of design. We sat down and asked her all about her unique and unexpected design, her design dreams, and what A Life Extraordinary means to her.
Hi Nika! Can you tell us what brought you to design?
As a child, I had a natural inclination towards creativity, which manifested in various forms such as literature, theatre, film, and photography. I found that product design allowed me to express my ideas and tell my story in a way that resonated with a large audience. The field of product design, in my opinion, has a powerful voice and can communicate a message effectively. I felt drawn to it as a profession, as I wanted to use this platform to express myself and touch on important themes. It was a natural calling for me, and I never doubted that this was the path I wanted to pursue.
What was one of the first stories you told?
One of my earliest stories was about breaking rules, which reflects my desire to challenge the norm. One of the first projects I worked on was the Lolita lamp with Moooi at the time. We presented it in pink in 2007, which was not a popular colour for contemporary design at the time. We even titled it “Who’s Afraid of Pink?” because we wanted to make a statement. Looking back now, it’s interesting to see how much the perception of pink has changed. In 2015, it became one of the most used colours in Salone del Mobile, and it’s now considered a genderless colour that’s used in many ways.
Was that the goal of using pink for Lolita?
My goal has always been to question the prevailing culture in contemporary design, and Lolita was a feminist gesture. It wasn’t just a cute lamp; it was a statement about modernism in design. I’ve always been somewhat of a rebel and enjoy pushing boundaries with my work.
What inspired your Knitty Lounge Chair?
The inspiration behind my latest design, the Knitty Lounge Chair, was twofold. Firstly, I was inspired by a small knitting pattern that caught my eye. Secondly, I was inspired by the large ropes used to tie massive ships to ports. These two seemingly unrelated things merged in my mind, and the Knitty Lounge Chair was born. The chair is not just a functional piece of furniture; it’s also an object that challenges our perception of scale. But it is also really comfy, generous, and of course, hopefully also very iconic.
What is it about ship ropes that caught your attention?
I really like forgotten parts of any city, suburban industrial zones, such as shipping docks, that are usually a bit melancholic, but I love this kind of sadness that you can find in them. And they are, for me, full of details.
“The Knitty Lounge Chair challenges our perspective by using a simple method of scaling”
Would you say the Knitty Lounge Chair also breaks the rules?
The Knitty Lounge Chair challenges our perspective by using a simple method of scaling. Knitting is typically associated with small, delicate objects. However, by scaling up the knitting pattern, the chair becomes something entirely different. It transforms into a large knot, like the ones used to tie down huge ships in ports. This change in scale creates a new perspective on something familiar, encouraging people to see the world in a different way.
Is there anything else you would like to accomplish?
My ultimate goal has always been to shift people’s perspectives on certain things. While it may not be possible with every project, it’s incredibly rewarding when I’m able to introduce a new perspective in the design world. Opening up new avenues that haven’t been explored before is what drives me as a creative person and a designer. This can manifest in different ways and through various projects.
What does A Life Extraordinary mean for you?
To me, A Life Extraordinary means having the luxury of time to appreciate the simple beauty of life, such as nature and the sea. These basic elements are what I love to contemplate when speaking about life and its essence. In terms of design, an extraordinary life is about creating something unexpected that breaks the rules and pushes boundaries forward. It’s about moving beyond the ordinary and exploring new possibilities.