Nika Zupanc

Nika Zupanc

Measured eclecticism with precision and a quest for archetypal visual elements characterise his designs, along with the emotional ergonomics of which he often speaks.

Based in Ljubljana, working in fields ranging from furniture to fashion since 2007, her work is set apart by that little bit extra. Not just shape or decoration but, as she puts it, it’s “the emotional ergonometry ” that she believes we cannot and will not be able to do without, especially in the future. A quality that the many companies she works with hold high, and to which the lengthy list of exhibitions she has taken part in and awards she has won is testament. 2020 heralds many new designs and we are as excited as she is about next April!

Dreamlike and fabulous, but also very contemporary without being nostalgic, the language of your work always harnesses objects, display concepts or projects for interiors to tell a story. How do you manage to maintain this coherent approach and come up with new and different ideas every time?

I believe that storytelling is, first and foremost, a very important part of contemporary design. In my opinion the modern phrase “form follows function” still holds true, but the meaning of the phrase in the new millennium has become somewhat elastic. I love working with icons of all periods and elegantly subverting them, whether they are iconic shapes, have iconic back stories, materials or functions. I train my brain to work like a sort of visual filter, collecting references from every angle of our culture, reflected through the most ordinary, everyday reality. Carefully gauged eclecticism and intentionally sought archetypal visual elements are the parameters I apply to my work, intentionally, but very discreetly. By deliberately incorporating these into my rather rational, minimal and functional designs, I am trying to give expression to themes that haven’t yet been articulated in the design profession.

What do you think about a “female design language”? Could reflect your research?

I don’t believe there really is a female design language, or at least I don’t think the word “female” is the right one to use in this context. I believe that design is genderless as such, but of course there are countless stories or themes that can be addressed through design, including the issue of gender. In terms of different design approaches, I’d like to add that there’s just a different poetry, a different design approach, through which one can address a particular design task, but I don’t think we should talk about female design language.

It is said that design can improve our lives, what should design add to our daily lives right now? What are the challenges facing us?

I think sustainability is key in design and the most important, crosscutting issue for our society. Sustainability is now a meta trend, so it’s a movement that will radically change our society, it will change production methods, the way we live, it will really impact our everyday life. Needless to say, it’s an issue that can be addressed in many different ways, not just through by using recycled or green materials.

Your clients are high-end companies. There’s a lot of talk about luxury and luxury design, why is this and what’s your take on it? Does it involve emotionally charged and perfectly made objects and furniture?

I think true luxury is actually a rare find and I think it is based on the principle of how things are made, from the design vision, to the sketch, the planning process and right through to the end product. For me, true luxury lies in knowledge, materials, production methods, commitment to certain values, commitment to the philosophy of the design story and to the philosophy of a particular company. These parameters can be found in all excellent companies or excellent products, not necessarily just in high-end luxury brands. The emotional value, or even more precisely, the emotional ergonomics of products in any area of manufacturing are something I consider to be a crucial element in contemporary design. I believe design can be a powerful tool for spreading a message or, simply, asking a question, making people think and marvel, and you can achieve that with emotional ergonomics.

What “luxuries” do you allow yourself?

The biggest luxury for me is to have time, to indulge my desires, which are not necessarily connected with design. To be able to do the sports I love, training, boxing, windsurfing. Communing with wild nature. Experiencing life outside the box.

What projects are you currently working on and/or have just released?

I’ve just presented a new chair, Juliette, for the Spanish brand Houtique, at Maison et Object in Paris and right now I’m finishing new products and collections with some of the brands I‘ve worked with previously, like Sé, Ditre Italia and Scarlet Splendour, which will be presented at the Salone del Mobile in April in Milan. We’re also working on some new and very exciting collaborations, that will be presented at Milano design week in April too. I can’t say any more right now, it’s a bit premature, but what I can say is that the upcoming projects are really exciting and I’m really looking forward to April.

About the Salone del Mobile.Milano. Your made your debut at SaloneSatellite in 2007 – where you met Patricia Moroso and Marcel Wanders and your career took off — what are your suggestions for young designers?

My advice would be very simple: be unique, true to yourself, fearless, courageous and passionate about what you do.

Bubble lamps

Bubble lamps, Nika Zupanc for Nika Zupanc personal collection

Golden cherry

Golden cherry, Nika Zupanc for Qeeboo, 2017

Ribbon chair

Ribbon chair, Nika Zupanc for Qeeboo, 2017 - Photo by Carlo Lavatori

Oh Baby it is a wild world

Oh Baby it is a wild world, Nika Zupanc for Bosa

Tower cabinet

Tower cabinet, Nika Zupanc for Rossana Orlandi

Loyalty cabinet

Loyalty cabinet, Sé, Nika Zupanc for Collection III (awarded with Icff award 2014 for the best furniture, NYC) Photo by Cécil Mathieu

Stay range

Stay range, Sé, Nika Zupanc for Collection III (awarded with Icff award 2014 for the best furniture, NYC)

The Golden Chair

The Golden Chair, Black front, Mooi

Longing cabinet

Longing cabinet, Nika Zupanc for De Castelli, 2017 (awarded with special Salone del Mobile award for Tracining identity project, Milano 2017)

Whisper box

Whisper box, Sé

Salone del mobile Salone del mobile
10 February 2020