Interviewed in Zagreb on 20 July 2016
Maroje Mrduljaš is an architect and critic of architecture and design who, over the past fifteen years, has left a significant mark in the shaping, reading and reception of Croatian and regional architectural and design scene. Along with notable participations in architectural competitions, he has developed an intense journalistic and editorial activity in the magazines Čovjek i prostor (Man and Space) and Život umjetnosti (The Life of Art). Since 2005, he has also been working in the magazine Oris. Through his lectures, articles, exhibitions and books he has become a mediator in the affirmation of Croatian modern and contemporary architecture in an international context. Exceptional is his contribution in several international research projects which he has set up as extensive theoretical, curatorial and journalistic endeavors aimed at clarifying the relationship between architecture and society in the period of socialism in the region of former Yugoslavia and Central Eastern Europe. We talked about different areas of his activity related to the strong interest in the capacity of architecture and design to transform social reality.
ORIS — Over the past 15 years, you have been actively following the development of the design scene in Croatia, where at that time an institutional consolidation took place, as did the changes in the positions of designers. Such is the situation with the Numen group you are working with, and which, from a position of the alternative, is gradually becoming an established practice.
Maroje Mrduljaš — My active entry into the field of design took place through a series of five columns for the Čovjek i prostor (Man and Space) magazine, which I wrote in the early 2000s, in collaboration with Nikola Radeljković and Sven Jonke from the Numen / For Use group, with whom I then shared the living and working space. We tried to transfuse their research and my work on the history of modern architecture, created in collaboration with Marijan Hržić for the purpose of preparing the teaching of urbanism at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb, into didactic knowledge, for our sake and for the sake of others. The argumentation was developed through the design insights and the analytical approach that relies mainly on the classics of modern and contemporary product design, and only a few works by Numen / For Use. Although I come from architecture, it was not particularly difficult to master the subject because we started from common value positions, particularly rationality and functionality.