Despite the fact that he spent just a small fraction of his career in Croatia, Davor Grünwald is, without a doubt, one of the key figures of domestic industrial design. From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s he designed calculators for the Zagreb Factory of Computing Machines and cooperated with other factories, like Jadran and Prvomajska. He has participated in the development of the local design community as co-founder of the Section for Industrial Design of the Croatian Association of Artists of Applied Arts (ULUPUH). He then moved to Canada where, until retirement in 2008, he designed everything from tractors to fast printers, but achieved best results in the design of geophysical instruments. Grünwalds’ biography is impressive and exciting, mostly owing to his determined, forceful and strong character. We talked to Mr Grünwald on the occasion of his retrospective exhibition titled Industrial Design in the Context of Technology, held in the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum in Zagreb.
ORIS: In your speech at the opening of your exhibition at the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla in Zagreb titled Davor Grünwald, Industrial Design in the Context of Technology, you said: This is me!
DAVOR GRÜNWALD: Yes, this beautifully made exhibition shows my professional oeuvre spanning over a half a century. So, of course: This is me! However, I exclaimed the same sentence in 1963 at the exhibition of Italian design at the Museum of Arts and Crafts, because I felt inspired for this vocation, although I had no idea what awaited me.
ORIS: In the conversation we had on the occasion of the HDD gallery exhibition in 2017, you said: I am a one-hundredpercent practitioner. What does it mean to you?
DAVOR GRÜNWALD: Design theoretician is my antipode, which explains my work in a philosophical manner. In a way, this person promotes me. However, in order to survive in this competitive world, I cannot dwell on philosophy. My presentations of design solutions were always to the point, clear, well-substantiated logical solutions expressed with the language of engineers, marketing experts and corporations.
ORIS: Before studying at the Academy of Applied Arts in Vienna, you studied electrical engineering in Zagreb. Has that helped you in your profession as a designer later on?
DAVOR GRÜNWALD: Of course, in fact I spent most of my career designing electronic instruments. Even before my studies, I engaged with electronics on an amateur level. I made single-barrelled and double-barrelled radios and thus obtained a basis that helped me talk to electronic workers in factories.