The “ISKRA: NON-ALIGNED DESIGN 1946–1990” exhibition held at the Architecture Museum Ljubljana (AML) museum of architecture came to an end in February. The exhibition provided an insight into the golden age of Slovenian product design, which lasted from the 1960s to the 1990s.
After the turbulence caused by the breakup of Yugoslavia and the economic hardships suffered by the new democratic republic of Slovenia, a new generation of young Slovenian designers is now creating a stir. After a short look back at the history of Slovenian design we will devote our attention to their work.
The Iskra group began as a small, state-owned radio workshop and by its heyday in the 1980s had developed into one of the country’s leading manufacturers of electrical products, with a workforce numbering more than 85,000.
In the summer of 1971, an exhibition featuring Iskra was held at the Design Center in Stuttgart, where the main focus was on presenting the company as the Yugoslav counterpart to the German firm Braun.
Just as the design department, headed by Dieter Rams, gave Braun’s products their typical aesthetic, Iskra too had a legendary design department, which was led from 1961 to 1971 by Davorin Savnik.
After 1971, he continued to influence the style of the company’s products as a freelance consultant to the management.
Other major industrial designers who worked for Iskra included Albert Kastelec, Marijan Gnamuš, Janez Smerdelj and Janja Lap, while Miljenko Licul and Ranko Novak designed the company’s graphic identity.