Artistic crafts and design

As early as the 18th century, there were workshops in Croatia for the manufacture of utilitarian and ornamental items (stoves, stoneware, glassware, ceramics, furniture). In 1882, thanks to the efforts of architect Herman Bollé, the School of Crafts (today's School of Applied Arts and Design) was established in Zagreb and, as time wore on, instituted various departments and programmes in response to the demands of contemporary society and trends in design. In 1973, the textiles and clothing design stream was opened at the Textile College which, along with the Institute of Textiles and Clothing, became part of the Faculty of Textile Technology in 1991. In 1989, Design Studies were introduced at the Faculty of Architecture.

Much credit for the development of Croatian applied arts goes to Tomislav Krizman, who, within the framework of the Djelo/Work/ society (1926), argued for the incorporation of folk art into contemporary forms.

Product design. The first to pay close attention to furnishings and interior design were architects: Viktor Kovačić at the turn of the 20th century and, in the inter-war period and in accordance with the ideas of functionalism, Stjepan Planić, Juraj Denzler, Mladen Kauzlarić and others. During the post-1945 period of industrial development, the conditions were created for the contemporary design of mass-produced goods. In this respect, enormous influence was exerted by the reformed School of Crafts and EXAT 51, a group of artists who championed a synthesis of all disciplines of visual arts and the application of avant-garde visual ideas to design. Bernardo Bernardi, author of trailblazing total-design projects for public spaces, was particularly notable for his designs of production programmes. The first Croatian design group (Studio za industrijsko oblikovanje/Industrial Design Studio/, SIO) was established in 1956, bringing together most of the members of EXAT 51 and other like-minded artists (Mario Antonini, Vladimir Frigić, Boris Babić).

A sofa, part of a salon set (Varaždin, 1835).
Raul Goldoni worked with glass factories, such as the Kristal factory in Samobor, and glass workshops in Murano, designing both utilitarian items and unique free forms.
Vjenceslav Richter, an armchair (1952)
Bernardo Bernardi, the interior of the Open University in Zagreb (1961)
Marya Delvard, poster (c. 1908) by Tomislav Krizman
Ljubo Babić, a magazine cover (c. 1919). The most notable creators of posters were Lj. Babić and other designers who generally applied late Secession and Art Deco styles in their poster designs, and professional graphic ateliers (Tri, Imago).

In 1964, the Industrial Design Centre/Centar za industrijsko oblikovanje/(CIO) was established in Zagreb with a view to enhancing the design process. Also reaching maturity around this time was a generation of designers who designed not only packaging or furniture (Bogdan Budimirov, Oleg Hržić), but also domestic appliances, office equipment, sophisticated lenses (Davor Grünwald, Bruno Planinšek, Vladimir Frgić, Vladimir Robotić and Noe Maričić), camper trailers (Đuro Griesbach), even locomotives (Zlatko Kapetanović). The generation of designers working in the 1980s (Božidar Lapaine, Jasenka Mihelčić, Zlatko Kapetanović, Marijan and Mladen Orešić) responded to the same challenges. Contemporary Croatian designers, gathered in creative collectives (Prostoria, Grupa, Numen/For use, Redesign, Brigada), have shifted their attention to the design of furniture with occasional ventures into other branches, such as, for instance, the design of toys (Marko Pavlović).

Graphic design. Croatian illustrators, chiefly painters (Tomislav Krizman, Ljubo Babić), began to emerge at the turn of the 20th century, producing works in the Secession vein, for the most part. After 1945, modernist principles came to the fore and were advocated by EXAT 51 members. At the same time, illustration for children's literature began to flourish, tying in with the pre-war successes of Vladimir Kirin and Andrija Maurović. Mladen Veža, Cvijeta Job and Ivan Antolčić gathered around children publication Radost /Joy/ and its art editor Vilko Gliha Selan. The next generations of illustrators were led by Svjetlan Junaković, while Tomislav Torjanac and Zdenko Bašić stand out with their imaginative works today.

Mihajlo Arsovski, Teatar &TD, mid-1960s
Milan Vulpe, Chromos, a poster, 1950s
Aleksandar Srnec, a magazine cover, 1955
Boris Bućan, Firebird/Petrushka, a poster, 1983
Boris Ljubičić, Logo of the 8th Mediterranean Games in Split (1979)
Mirko Ilić, an illustrator in youth newspapers (Polet) and mainstream magazines (Start, Danas) and designer of posters (for the film Crveni i crni/The Red and the Black/, 1985), stood out with his political illustrations provided for the American press (Time, The New York Times).

Posters, which began to evolve in the early 20th century chiefly owing to T. Krizman, and promotional works are forms of visual communication that deserve special mention. During and immediately after the Second World War, posters were principally used for the sake of political propaganda (Edo Murtić), while in the early 1950s, the EXAT 51 group brought about a shift in the aesthetic tide. The last decades of the 20th century were marked by Mihajlo Arsovski, Boris Bućan, Boris Ljubičić and Mirko Ilić.

The foundations of contemporary Croatian ceramics were laid by Blanka Dužanec, a teacher at the School of Crafts. The most vibrant period of modern ceramic art in the 1970s was marked by Hanibal Salvaro, Ljerka Njerš, Božena Štih-Balen, Dora Pezić-Mijatović, Ana Hutinec and Vladimir Kučina, followed by Edith Merle, Robert Baća and Bojana Švertasek.

After the emergence of Quorum, a literary magazine, in the 1980s (Dejan Kršić, Boris Malešević), the 1990s witnessed a flourishing of magazines and fanzines (Arkzin, Libra Libera, Frakcija, Numen, Nomad), and design (Bruketa & Žinić, Cavarpayer, Laboratorium, Greiner and Kropilak), which paid close attention to lettering and typography (Dejan Dragosavac and Damir Gamulin); these were later on brought to a very high standard in other media by Nikola Đurek.

Fashion design. The development of the middle classes brought about fashion awareness in Croatia, where national self-awareness was also expressed through what was referred to as Illyrian dress, inspired by Croatian national costumes. The sources of information on fashion were the catalogues published by department stores, specialised foreign magazines and Parižka moda/Parisian Fashion/ (1895), the first fashion magazine in Croatian where items from Zagreb shops (Baumgartner's shop and his first Croatian textile factory) were advertised, as were those from Kastner and Öhler, an Austrian company which opened a department store with a coffee room at the beginning of Ilica Street in 1890. The liberal climate of the Secession period in the early 20th century introduced simplicity and practicality in fashion and these principles were embraced by the first renowned fashion designers in Zagreb who had developed their skills in London, Paris and Vienna (Đuro Matić, Ivan Božičević and Josip Pest).

A dress designed by Bela Čikoš-Sesia in 1905–10 for his artist's models, probably modelled on Gustav Klimt and what was referred to as reform dress; made by Industrija Berger.
A fashion show by fashion designer Žuži Jelinek, 1959
In the 1960s, fashion went into the street: models Nuša Marović and Irena Uhl at the Dolac open market in Zagreb.
Zlatna igla (The Golden Needle) fashion show has been held in Zagreb since 1935.
Nenad Roban, jewelry design
Tapestry began to develop in the late 1930s. Mira Kovačević-Ovčačik was at work at the School of Crafts, while the first creators of artistic tapestry were painters Edo Kovačević, Marija Zidarić, Edo Murtić and Ivan Rabuzin. A new age of contemporary Croatian tapestry was inaugurated by the monumental sculptures of Jagoda Buić.

In the mid-1920s, an even more relaxed style gained prominence in fashion. Besides the Zagreb shops, which promoted Parisian fashion, there were also many local salons that designed articles in accordance with the latest fashion, such as Mella Zwieback's salon for womenswear and V. Vidrić's for menswear, Otto Braun's shoe salon, the millineries of Dragica Šmid and Angelina and Dragica Pejak, who exhibited at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937, as did Mila Granitz, Marija Hadjina and Hanja Sekulić (dress design), while lacemakers from Lepoglava, led by Danica Brössler, won a gold medal at the Exhibition. In the second half of the 20th century, textile and footwear factories sprang up throughout Croatia. Their designs veered to the practical and functional, while high fashion continued to be nurtured in a few fashion salons, such as, for instance, the salon of Žuži Jelinek. However, by the 1960s new phenomena (high-fashion shows, an increasing popularity of women's magazines, modern department stores and boutiques) had already become prominent and a generation of fashion designers had reached maturity, among whom were Rikard Gumzej, Velimir Matej, Katarina Balogh and Vesna and Drago Muhić. The postmodernist climate of the 1980s brought about a strong interlinkage between fashion and the arts: designers – led by Ante Tonči Vladislavić, Branka Donassy, Davor Klarić, Nada Došen, Dženisa Pecotić, Oleg Hržić, Sanja Jelovac-Mažuranić and Nada Kobali (hat designer) – began to develop an experimental and innovative approach. The next generations sought to respond to the new social and economic situation as well as to the challenges of globalisation, in particular the disappearance of the textile industry, by gathering around the fashion week (, under the leadership of Vinko Filipić) and presenting Croatian fashion in the first concept stores: Prostor/Space/(in Rovinj) and From Designers With Love (in Zagreb). At the beginning of the 21st century, Silvio Vujičić, Ivana Omazić, Mauro Massaroto as well as Martina Vrdoljak Ranilović and Nataša Mihaljčišin (formerly I-Gle) rose to prominence with their well-thought-out designs.

The most prominent creators of overall visual designs were M. Arsovski (Teatar &TD), who commingled the EXAT 51 approach with the influences of the pop culture of the time, Zvonimir Lončarić and Nedeljko Dragić (the World Festival of Animated Film) as well as the internationally awarded B. Ljubičić (the Mediterranean Games, Croatian Radio and Television) and B. Bućan (the Croatian National Theatre/HNK/ in Split, the Zagreb Symphony Orchestra), whose poster for the play Žar ptica/Petruška/Firebird/Petrushka/ (Split HNK, 1983) had the honour to appear as the cover illustration on the catalogue for the exhibition The Power of Poster (Victoria and Albert Museum in London).


Caricature appeared in the second half of the 19th century in humorous and satirical newspapers (Podravski jež, Zvekan, Vragoljan). The first half of the 20th century was marked by the first longer-running humorous magazines – Koprive in Zagreb (1906–40) and Duje Balavac (1908–23) in Split – in which artists such as Emanuel Vidović, Josip Račić, Vilko Gecan, Andrija Maurović and Antun Motika tried their hand. In the interwar period, Branimir Petrović, Pjer Križanić and Sergej Mironovič Golovčenko, artists with strong personalities, gained prominence.

Oto Reisinger
Davor Štambuk
Nedeljko Dragić, Tupko, award-winner in Montreal, 1971

After the Second World War, Alfred Pal, Vlado Delač, Ivo Kušanić, Ico Voljevica, Oton Anton Reisinger and Borivoj Dovniković were among the artists who began their careers in the magazine Kerempuh in Zagreb. The next generation gathered around the magazine Paradoks in the late 1960s (Nedeljko Dragić, Ivan Vitez and others), making mostly caricatures without words. The magazine Berekin (Tonči Kerum and Dubravko Mataković), which came out in Split in 1979, explored multifarious issues through caricature, while Srećko Puntarić, Mojmir Mihatov and Joško Marušić contributed their work to the revived Kerempuh (1974). Davor Štambuk built a prominent career in France (France Dimanche), while domestic readers could follow his work in the magazine, Start, and the daily, Slobodna Dalmacija.


As is the case elsewhere in the world, the development of comic strips in Croatia is linked to the emergence of caricatures in satirical papers at the turn of the 20th century. Maks i Maksić/Maks and Maksić/, drawn by Russian émigré Sergej Mironovič Golovčenko, starting in 1925, modelled on Wilhelm Busch's cartoons is considered to be the first Croatian comic. The first golden age of Croatian comics coincided with the thriving period of newspaper comics in the mid-1930s in North America and Europe: several magazines were published in Zagreb, newspapers regularly serialised American and domestic comics, and a strong body of artists (Andrija Maurović, Walter Neugebauer, Ferdo Bis) and scriptwriters (Krešimir Kovačić, Franjo Fuis, Norbert Neugebauer) were active. During the second golden age of Croatian comic strip, linked to the magazine Plavi vjesnik/Blue Herald/ in the 1950s, the same group of artists was active, with the addition of Žarko Beker, Zdenko Svirčić and the most significant new artist, Julio Radilović Jules, whose work achieved European success. The scriptwriters working at the time were Zvonimir Furtinger (who, along with Jules, created the classic Croatian comic strip Kroz minula stoljeća /Through Past Centuries/), Rudi Aljinović and Marcel Čukli. Comic strips featuring caricatures also began to appear, for instance in the works of Jules, Vladimir Delač, Borivoje Dovniković, Ivica Bednjanec and Oto Reisinger. Many artists and comic strips were also linked with the Zagreb School of Animated Film as some of the artists were also involved in the production of cartoons (Dušan Vukotić, Nedeljko Dragić, Dovniković).

Andrija Maurović, Čuvaj se senjske ruke /Pirates of Senj/
Julio Radilović, Kroz minula stoljeća /Through Past Centuries/
Edvin Biuković and Darko Macan, Grendel Tales
Helena Klakočar, Nemirno more /Rough Sea/, award-winner in Angoulême in 2000.

An aesthetic turning-point was the emergence of the so-called third generation in the second half of the 1970s, or the Novi Kvadrat/The New Square/group, whose members were Mirko Ilić and Igor Kordej, who enjoyed an international reputation, Ninoslav Kunc, Krešimir Zimonić and Radovan Devlić – the most important Croatian comic strip artist (Macchu Pichu, Ćiril i Metod/Cyril and Methodius/, Huljice/The Rascals/). During the subsequent periods, Croatian comic strip continued the graphic trends of Novi Kvadrat (internationally acclaimed artists Milan Trenc and Danijel Žeželj) and the realism of commercial comics (Kordej, Edvin Biuković, Esad T. Ribić, Goran Parlov and Goran Sudžuka have enjoyed world renown as comic strip artists as has scriptwriter Darko Macan), and the independent and alternative auteur comic strip also developed (Dubravko Mataković, Dušan Gačić, internationally awarded Helena Klakočar, Ivana Armanini, Irena Jukić Pranjić, Magda Dulčić).