"The story behind the objects is what can have a sensitizing effect" – Interview with the founders of itthon.

2021. 07. 07. 11:57 Design Világnap

Budapest Design Week opened a one-day pop-up exhibition entitled Diversity to mark World Industrial Design Day on 29 June. Held at The Studio of Young Artists' Association, the exhibition showcased products and collections that aim to promote social sensitization. In this context, we talked to one of the exhibition's designers, Adrienn Király and Bálint Szalai, the two of them being the founders of the brand itthon. [at home]

Tell us a few words about your collection at the exhibition.

Adri: The exhibition featured pieces from our first collection: handmade home accessories, utensils such as vases, rolling pins, bowls and plates. Our products are made in workshops in Vojvodina, and we strive to use natural materials, preferably from the region.

What gave you the idea, how did you turn towards the subject?

A.: In our travels, we have seen examples of people using design to stimulate a community. That is why we started to look at our home environment as an opportunity, at the values we take for granted in our everyday lives.

Bálint: In my thesis I was specifically looking for an answer to how I could be of use to the community of my homeland, Vojvodina. With design tools at my disposal, I finally turned to local object makers to create collections of objects in collaboration. I envisioned these under the umbrella of a common brand, through which the makers could reach a wider market.

What are the prospects for the collection when it comes to the market? Where is this process at?

B.: As a startup brand, we felt it was important to have our products available to view and touch, so we are very happy to have found a retailer, Pauza, where all these are possible. By the way, we been considering an online shop from the beginning, but with handicraft products and with raw materials such as wood or the wicker used for weaving, it is difficult to achieve a standardised result. It was therefore a challenge to ensure a consistent quality while preserving the craftsmen's touch on the objects, making each piece unique. Now we see that an online shop can only work well if customers know what to expect. We are currently working to make this a reality on our website as soon as possible. Hopefully this online presence will open the door to the international market later on.

To what extent do you think these products can sensitize society? Have you received any feedback on this?

A.: In our case, it is probably more the story behind the objects that can have a sensitizing effect. We think it is important to show where the products come from and how much work goes into creating a turned wooden tray, for example.

B.: But not only in the making of the object, but also in the sourcing and preparation of the raw materials. In this sense, design can be a socially very important medium for conveying a message. In our case, it tells a story about this land and the people who make the objects. The fact that these pieces fit into the context of a contemporary home helps to spread the message as widely as possible through the objects themselves.

A.: It is no secret that we aim to ensure that local people find their way back to the artisans in the area – step by step towards sustainable living. Many people are surprised that such products are made in our immediate environment.

What do you think about the social and economic role of design, and its effect as an economic stimulus? How are you as designers involved?

A.: As designers, we want to draw attention to the local values. itthon. was launched to broaden the market opportunities for artisans in Vojvodina and, in the long run, to create a community among the project participants. We would be very happy if this could have an economic stimulating effect in the region, while offering a sustainable model to society. Moreover, we hope that the project can help maintain a traditional craft in the area and promote local handicraft object making to a wider audience.

What are your next steps and plans for the product?

B. The objects displayed at the exhibition are pieces from our first collection, to which we intend to add further items preferably by involving additional workshops. Basically, we intend it to be a continuously growing circle both in terms of objects and participants. Over the past year we have been working on establishing the brand and the studio, and on reaching as large an audience as possible.