Design as diplomacy

Grupa's lighting fixtures get featured in a curated showcase of Croatia's past and present creativity hosted at the nation's most prestigious salon.

Grupa's lamps Arigato and Baluna were selected to feature in a special exhibition of Croatian design at Villa Zagorje, a landmark piece of modernist architecture which is the heart of the complex housing the Office of the President of Croatia in northern Zagreb.

The South Salon, the part of the building used today as a lounge for foreign dignitaries and other visitors arriving for an audience with Croatia's head of state, was selected to showcase the best pieces that contemporary Croatian design and art production can offer.

By setting the exhibition in what is considered a masterpiece of modernist architecture, conceived by renowned architects Vjenceslav Richter and Kazimir Ostrogović in the early 1960s, the curators wanted to reinvent what is essentially a space for diplomacy by juxtaposing best examples of contemporary homegrown design and art with the nation's heritage.

The temporary exhibition, which was open to the public in April 2021, was done in collaboration with Zagreb's Museum of Contemporary Art (MSU), the furniture maker Prostoria, and Grupa. The furniture on display included a variety of pieces from Prostoria's collections titled Combine, Polygon, Strain, and Tinker; Grupa's lighting fixtures from the Baluna and Arigato series, and a collection of carpets designed by Grupa and produced by Prostoria. 

The artwork, dating from the 1950s to the present day, was also carefully selected to represent several different generations of abstract artists who all shared an ambition to push the boundaries of their medium. These included pieces by Ivan Picelj, Juraj Dobrovic, Edita Schubert, Duje Juric, Silvio Vujicic, and Ivana Franke.

Following the closure of the exhibition in April 2021, the Office of the President decided to keep Prostoria's furniture and Grupa's lamps in the salon, turning them into permanent symbols of the nation's creative power and a reflection on national identity meant to greet discerning visitors from all over the world.