24 February 2011

Finishing Music Week: German Rap

Guys, I never did my East German rap post, which is a MUST.  How can I not do it?  I must.

So, you'll have to rewind to Polish Rap to get a sense of where I'm going with this.  You really do.  (Not a ploy to increase page views)

So why do I find rap to be so compelling in the East vs West dialectic?  While rap has its roots in the racial segregation in America, it has worldwide ramifications.  I will certainly not argue that the aesthetic (baggy t-shirts, chains, certain labels, baseball hats, even gestures) changes throughout the rap scene because it's obviously present.  Besides the surface look, rap is an attitude and a message.  While rap has branched out beyond its political message of subversion, it's still a very strong theme today.  I would say especially abroad, but I don't know the international world of rap well enough to make such a bold assertion.  Certainly, the theme carries weight in the ECE region.  East Germany especially clings to this theme in popular rap and it all carries back to the early years of reunification.

23 February 2011

Book Review: Polish Poetry


Lately I've been having a real hankering for poetry.  I highlighted Dimkovska's book of poetry, but it's time for more accessible poetry.

The book I read was a collection called, "Spoiling Cannibals' Fun: Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule", edited and translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh.  It was a great read.  Poland has quite a tradition of poetry and their generally obstinate nature towards Communism helped anti-state poetry flourish during the red era.  The foreword predicted that readers would have a new favorite poet by the end of the book.  All I have to say is that I may have 5 new favorites. 

22 February 2011


Sorry, but my schedule has been skiwompus (that is my favorite made-up word, though I often modify it to be skidilywompus) and I haven't gotten to the posts this week!  ACK!  There's been a breach. 

In order to keep my sanity, I'm going to postpone Historical Moments until next week. 
This week I'll do some book reviews because I completely stopped doing those.  So look for book reviews all this week and we'll get back on schedule with Historical Moments!

18 February 2011

Latvija: More Baltic Fashion

Latvia is the last country on the fashion radar this week.  There will be reprisals on fashion week, do not fear, but today marks the last day of CEE fashion, for this week at least.

17 February 2011

Estonian Fashion

We are finally getting to the Baltics. They've been entirely neglected and I can't ignore them, no matter how tiny they may be.  I came across this list and shamelessly went through and searched designers on it.  I often make notes on how I research for my posts, and I'm writing a post to address this very topic.  It's a whole matter in and of itself and for those interested in the region (who may not know the scads of languages necessary for such tasks), it's good to see how I come up with the information.  It's not as easy as it looks even with Google the great machine, I swear.

16 February 2011

BiH Fashion

Today is Bosnia i Hercegovina, which also has a fashion week in Sarajevo.  I suppose I wasn't aware of all the international fashion shows since my exposure is mainly Milan, Paris, and NYC.  It's a great challenge to find these designers because it shows me a new side of fashion that's not so prominent.

Check Back Tomorrow!

Sorry, but due to a suddenly filled schedule, I won't have time to make a post today. Tomorrow will be a double post, so check back for more on CEE fashion designers. BiH and Estonia are on the docket!

The other announcement is that next week will be HISTORICAL MOMENT WEEK. I think the theme is pretty self explanatory.  It will be epic moments from any point in any CEE nation's history and it should be a fun exploration!

15 February 2011

Albanian Designers

Albania and it's fashion designers are all the rage today (in this post).  I had particular difficulties in finding websites (as in, I found none), but I have lots of pictures to make up for it.  Yay.

14 February 2011

Hungarian Fashion

Today starts FASHION WEEK! YAY! It just so happen to coincide with the fall fashion season. I wish I could say I planned it this way, but I have to point to divine inspiration (or maybe an intuitive sense of fashion timing? nah...)  So this week fashion designers from all over CEE are going to be feature by country.  I plan on posting at least 5 designers per country because designers in CEE tend to use the internet to market their clothing.  This may be because the internet's ascent coincided with the renewed fashion scene, which no longer had to stay underground. (Pictures after the jump!)

12 February 2011

A Cute Extra from Croatia!

Croatian Mail & Sail postcards (pogledaj.to)
I found this through the website pogledaj.to and loved the design. They are postcards and are then constructed into little paper boats.  Isn't that the cutest idea?  I love it.  The designers are Katarina Eljuga and Iva Rodić.  If you want more information on the postcards and where to buy them go to the website.

Mail & Sail postcards (pogledaj.to)

11 February 2011

Kontrastika- Slovenia

This Balkan state has largely been neglected in the month since this blog started. It is finally being recognized.  Finding product design in Slovenia was no easy feat.  I navigated a dozen design reference sites until I found a company that fit in the theme this week.  CEE is all about perserverance.  (Don't forget that FASHION WEEK starts Monday!)

Kontrastika logo (kontrastika.com)
The design firm of interest is Kontrastika.  It is based Ljubljana with Mojca Janželj Tomažič (graphic/spatial designer and photographer) and Matjaž Tomažič  (graphic designer, illustrator, and information architect).  The breadth of their skills allows them to do more than simply design things like furniture.  They also offer visual arts and design.  Their logo is a mystery (which is acknowledged on the website), but the company jokes that no one gets what is means, so they will reveal it at a big party.  I like their style.  

10 February 2011

Young Balkan Designers

Today's post is the Young Balkan Designers contest.
Young Balkan Designers winners (mikser.rs)

The Mikser organization created the contest.  Mikser is an organization intending to bring attention to the talent and creativity in the Balkans.  Other projects include Ghost, an expo for young designers in the region, Young Serbian Designers (a focus on Serbian designers since Mikser is a Serbian organization), and the Mikser Festival, which is another huge expo.   I wish I could go to these expos because the samples I see are too clever and beautiful to miss out on.  On the other hand, I will be needlessly torturing myself with things I cannot buy.

09 February 2011

Petr Jakubik

Today's designer is Petr Jakubik from Slovakia. I came across his work at the designeast.eu website.  The chair to the right is a "DIY Panton" chair that he designed.  Verner Panton is an influential 20th century Danish designer whose S shaped chair is similarly famous.  The video explaining how to make the DIY Panton chair is in a language I do not know, but the visual seems cheeky enough (see below).  I'm not exactly sure what it's trying to accomplish.  The commercial was done by Tomcateden, a "young European creative art studio".  They also did another commercial, but for a cabinet with chalkboard paint on it.  It's part of Jakubik's DIY furniture series.  When I looked more into the matter, I came across the name "Comunistar", which naturally attracted my attention.  After following the trail of links, I found a page on Facebook that explained far more than the domain web site.  It's a Slovakian brand of design and for reasons I am unsure of, is impossible to track down on the internet.  The main page only connects to their Facebook group and websites only summarize their mission.  I don't know about you, but I have a feeling I'm not welcome in their design club.

08 February 2011

DDR Design

I can't go a week without having a post on something German.  It's fate, deal with it.
QL, a fan (spiegel.de)

Today's post is on East German design, which I have found fascinating.  The design aesthetic of the GDR (which I usually write as DDR, the German abbreviation) was rather modern.  Of course, the Communist consumer products were pretty dismal at first, but as soon as Stalin bit the dust, the New Course went underway.   This meant that the standard of living improved because the economy was no longer dominated by heavy industry and now served its working populace.  A big part of the new consumer products was the introduction of plastic.  It was viewed as top quality instead of an imitation because of its novelty to DDR citizens.  The overall effect was an incredible jump in lifestyle.  Many East Germans adopted a very middle class lifestyle with Trabants (if they could get one), plastic egg cups shaped like chickens, and very mod looking furniture.

07 February 2011

Svilen Gamolov and Petar Zaharinov

My weekend was a bit crazy, so the post meant for Saturday will be posted in the past.  It will conclude the fantastic Music Week, which I loved because Niemen was a fantastic find.

Today begins Design Week!  Next week's theme will be FASHION.  I'm keeping it fresh and creative over here because they attract more interest than the political posts (not that they will disappear forever).

Today's post is on the only Bulgarian designers I could find anything on: Svilen Gamolov and Petar Zaharinov.  I hadn't highlighted Bulgaria yet and today was the day.  Design is a bit of a tricky topic because that includes a lot of mediums: architecture, interiors, products, graphics, industrial, etc.  I decided to focus more on products and furniture because I want to do a separate week of architecture and the rest feel too unwieldy as topics.  The design of everyday objects will be a great foray into the artistic yet pragmatic side of CEE. 

Poison Bar Stool, Gamolov (cgart.bg)
Gamolov (cgart.bg)
The first designer is Svilen Gamolov.  He is located in Varna, Bulgaria and designs primarily furniture.  His CGA profile is here, but you can also see a great breadth of his work via Googe image search.  The CGA profile keeps listing his work as "concept design", which means the products have not yet been produced.  I think this is a great shame because the designs are funky, modern, and playful, and they're designed by someone from Eastern Europe––I can think of a few demographics who would buy it. 

04 February 2011

Czesław Niemen

Czesław Nieman (muzyka.gery.pl)
Poland is getting some extra attention this week, thanks to my friend Paweł.  I guess when I posted an OSTR song ("Po drodze do nieba") on my Fbook wall, it inspired him to introduce me to some older Polish musicians. He introduced me Czesław Niemen, whose proper Christian name is Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki.  This musician couldn't be cooler if he tried.  He broke onto the scene in Communist 1960s Poland and upset good comrades by introducing rock and soul music to the repertoire.  He grew his hair long, wore super funky clothes, and embodied the general psychedelia Americans were very fond of at the time. 

03 February 2011

Ukrainian Avant Garde

I'm sorry there wasn't a post yesterday.  I was at a friend's during the famous "Blizzard 2011", which plays up the significance of the weather a little too much.  It was cool and a bit intense, but nothing to tell the grandkids about in front of a fire.  To make up for the loss of a music post, I'm extending Music Week to Saturday.

Next week's theme is Design Week!  It's going to be about CEE design.  I need to get better about announcing these at the beginning of the week.

Mariana Sadovska (borderlandmusic.de)
Today's post is about Ukrainian avant garde music.  Naturally, I know nothing about it but the wonders of search engines has pulled up some cool results.  The first ones to come up were Mariana Sadovska and Roman Turvosky

01 February 2011

Polish Rap

I have a feeling Music Week will predominantly be Rap Week because I find it endlessly fascinating.  I couldn't tell you why, but I like finding it.  Today I will be posting a few Polish rappers I liked when I was browsing around.  All but one have English subs, though you can enjoy rap without knowing what it is they're talking about.  Part of the reason I've always liked rap in CEE is because it is absolutely unlike the top 40 hits in America, which are concerned with nouveau riche things like diamonds, scads of women, and showing everyone who's boss (the trend seems to be reversing a little bit with artists like BOB, however).  I have yet to come across a rapper that vapid in CEE, not to say they don't exist.  All the rap I've come across is slightly more thoughtful and concerned with political, economic, or existential issues. The Polish rappers I found today run along this vein.  The first I found was Fisz (pronounced feesh), who is rather prominent according to Wikipedia.