Whether we find her wrapping chromatic thread around geometric wire frames, or behind the lens of a camera, the ease at which Ana Kraš produces beauty is astounding. Not only because each of her hand made Bonbon lamps take at least around 15 “hand knitting” hours to create, but because the very context of her creative education, isn’t one you would describe as easy.
Her craft is hard to define because she is “open to everything” but her unique style and aesthetic are so inherently ‘her’, and therefore craft-driven, that it is almost as if she was destined to create beautiful things. As a child, born in Belgrade, Serbia, she would spend her time building and furnishing lego houses, so it seemed a natural progression for her to go on and study interior architecture and furniture design, at the University of the Arts Belgrade.
Since her graduation she has exhibited and collaborated all over the world, whether it be at Milan Design week, NYC Design week, Maison Objet Paris, Vienna Design Week, Belgrade Design Week or Budapest Design Week - to name a few, Ana’s work is known and respected globally which has led to many a collaborative project including work with prestigious fashion houses like Maison Martin Margiela, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Etudes Studio and most recently photographing the campaign of Ganni for whom she also designed the set of their runway at Copenhagen Fashion week 2017.
In 2015, she also created a collection in collaboration with Matter, a New-York based design gallery and manufacturers. Her ‘Slon’ collection perfectly showcases the minimalist functionality to her designs, which is something that rings true of her overall aesthetic across all platforms of her practice. The way in which she conveys her style in each piece is truly reflective of the time that she pours into each project and this is no doubt a contributing factor to the success that she has seen within the industry.
Alongside Ana's video collage, which features footage Ana and her friends filmed this summer - in Belgrade, New York, Formentera island and Montenegro - shot by herself, musician Devonté Hynes, Spanish director Albert Moya and photographer and architect Marija Strajnić, this week Semaine meets the unassuming hyphenate, learning of her unconventional rise into the world of design and exploring her past, present and future projects and collaborations.
Semaine: The idea of an internship and even working in a creative industry full stop was pretty rare in Belgrade. How did you meet people and get your work seen whilst at university?
Ana: There was a blind contest for young Serbian designers organized by Mixer, with Konstantin Grcic as a head of the jury. The 6 winning works were going to be brought to Milan and exhibited during the Milan furniture fair. It was my final year at the university and I decided to apply, so I submitted five different projects.
To my total shock, it happened that all of my projects were chosen and I pretty much ended up having a solo booth at the Milan fair... It was such a big thing for me at the time - as it was impossible for a Serbian student to afford any of that. The entire exhibition, shipping, travel etc requires over €20k, and an average Serbian salary is €300 per month.
That was the first time my work, including the Bonbon lamps, was displayed internationally. This shows the importance of organizations such as Mixer and initiatives of that kind. There are so many places in the world where people are not privileged enough to enter the elitist design/art world without support.
Semaine: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in art?
Ana: Making things and drawing was my most natural interest since I was a kid. If you left me alone - that's what I would do. I don't think it was ever a conscious idea to be an artist, I never thought of myself as one.
Semaine: What was it that made you leave Belgrade?
Ana: I was based in Belgrade until I was 26. Then I traveled to Los Angeles and little by little started spending more time there. After a few years, I moved to NYC. It happened very spontaneously, I never before considered living in the USA, or anywhere else really. I never planned to move away from Belgrade.
Semaine: Do you see yourself back there at some point?
Ana: I love going back home and I do it often. All my family and my oldest friends are there. Belgrade is such a special city, so layered and interesting, my favorite place. Visually it's a mess and so inspiring, which I love, and people are very real and very talented. I would definitely love to spend more time there in the coming years and would love to get involved in curatorial projects because I would be so happy to show the works of my pals there to the world. They make such beautiful things.
Semaine: What are your biggest influences?
Ana: Architecture, that's what I’m most curious about. Not specific architects, more buildings in general. Buildings and the way things are built around the world is what I notice the most and store somewhere in my mind.
Semaine: What is your design process like?
Ana: It's more of a thinking process, I think about what I want to achieve with it or think about a certain material, then I write it down in words or a simple sketch. Then I try to make it. I don’t have a favourite medium to use.
Semaine: You recently exhibited your ‘Mara’ pieces in the “Room with its own rules” at Chamber, could you tell us a little more about that?
Ana: It's a line of objects I custom make per request. The 'Mara' furniture pieces are inspired by my grandmother Mara's apartment that was decorated in a very typical communist style - simple lines, lots of angles and laminated surfaces for easy maintenance. I designed multiple pieces - a large glass top table, coffee tables, side tables, benches - using very simple geometry with many surfaces, and using different colored laminates to enhance the shapes.
Semaine: From physically making pieces like the ‘Mara’ objects, to taking photographs, how do you feel each aspect of your craft influences and links to the other?
Ana: It's all connected, thoughts are never isolated.
Semaine: You’ve collaborated with so many different people and brands, do you prefer the process of collaboration?
Ana: I like it, it's very different. I usually work alone so it's interesting to change my ways and approach when working with people.
Semaine: Do you have a favourite collaboration to date?
Ana: I can't think of one, I'm not good at comparing things and picking favourites! Each one is a very unique, different experience. I loved working on this very large set design piece for Ganni's runway show last month. I always have fun working on ceramic pieces with Natalie Weinberger. I loved working on wallpapers with Calico. I am very excited about the collaboration I am doing right now with Hay. Those are some of the most recent ones.
From collaborations to solo projects, Ana’s work is available in many forms and luckily for you, Semaine has done the hard work and gathered all - well a large amount - of them into one place for you to explore. Explore and purchase the fruits of Ana Kras’ labour, this week on Semaine.
By Kezia Navey for Semaine.
Ana Kras, represented by POOL Represents N.Y.C.