Niko Kralj included in MoMA Permanent Collection
If you don’t know who designer Niko Kralj is, you can be forgiven. Not many people outside of Kralj’s homeland of Slovenia are familiar with his highly progressive and award-winning modern furniture designs.
Thankfully, change is on the horizon. MoMA’s highly acclaimed exhibition “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980” and the inclusion of the 1957 designed ‘Rex Lounge Chair’ in MoMA’s permanent collection should give Kralj more of the international recognition he deserves.
The show’s curators, MoMA’s Martino Stierli and guest curator Vladimir Kulić, assert that this exhibition is a survey of architecture and design that has been all but absent from modern history. They also make clear that Yugoslavia was expelled from the Soviet bloc in 1948, removing it from Stalin’s grip on spatial aesthetics.
The country had a need to search for its collective identity elsewhere. As Vladimir Kulić states, the architecture from Yugoslav socialism is an adaptation rather than copy, giving the work a quality of enhanced interpretation. This can also be said of Niko Kralj’s ground-breaking mid-century industrial designs.
By merging a variety of local traditions and contemporary international influences in the context of a unique Yugoslav brand of socialism, often described as the “Third Way,” local architects and designers produced a veritable “parallel universe” of modern design during the 45 years of the country’s existence.
If you’re visiting New York don’t miss this must-see exhibition. The works will include more than 400 drawings, models, photographs, and film reels culled from an array of municipal archives, family-held collections, and museums across the region, introducing the awesome structures of socialist Yugoslavia’s leading architects to an international audience for the first time.