“By choosing works for the collection, I was looking to designers of various disciplines and generations, united by the passion to discover new dimensions of material, as a result of endless experiments.”

– Dita Danosa, curator of the Latvian collection, “Near and Far – Be Dazzled!”

“Near and Far – Be Dazzled!” is part of the Virtual Design Destination presented by Adorno at London Design Festival, 12 – 20 September 2020. Join us for a tour of the virtual environment and collection with curator Dita Danosa in conversation with Kristen de la Vallière of @sayhito_ on Thursday, 17 September at 10:00 AM BST. “Near and Far – Be Dazzled!” is kindly supported by the Ministry of Culture of Latvia and Nordic Culture Point.

Walk along the Latvian coast at Jurmala beach as the sun sets and rolling waves reveal objects along the shore. Breathing in the ocean air, we are dazzled by the reflection of light on the water and across the reflective surfaces of glass, copper, and gold. The Latvian design scene holds nature as a strong source of inspiration, with crafting tradition and contemporary approaches drawing directly from the natural environment and local resources of the country. There is a deep respect for skills passed down from generation to generation as well as an interest in forging new paths through experimentation. In this seaside setting, we are drawn toward each piece by their unique form, with closer inspection revealing new details and the innate connection between maker and object.

Bringing man-made objects and nature together, “Near and Far – Be Dazzled!”, curated by Dita Danosa, explores the experience of and emotions associated with our new reality through contemporary Latvian design. Makers from a diverse range of disciplines and generations are presented alongside one another, emphasising their shared passion for design, experimentation, and visual effects. The use of glass, wood, and amber highlight their connection to craft tradition and locally available materials. Visual effects created by undulating glass, hammered copper, and corroding steel add texture and materiality to already visually engaging pieces. These experiments with material, form, and method of creation evidence the connection that these designers have to the world around them, adding new dimensions and a sense of uniqueness to each piece.

“Near and Far – Be Dazzled!” features work by Artis Nimanis, Ieva Kaleja, Janis Straupe, Jelizaveta Suska, Renāts Kotļevs, and Sabine Mezkaze Berzina.

 

Near and Far – Be Dazzled!

What are the main themes presented across the works in this collection?

The collection manifests the synergy between man-made design and nature. It gathers outstanding Latvian designers of various disciplines and generations, united by the passion to discover new dimensions of material, as a result of endless experiments. All six designers represented in the collection offer a synthesis of original objects, visual effects, and lights.

Janis Straupe, “Chair in Chair”

Which three words would you use to describe the contemporary design scene in Latvia? Please describe why.

The identity of Latvian design can be summarized in three words: natural, emotional, and authentic.

Latvian design is deeply rooted in folk traditions, [a] closeness to nature, and the ability to find beauty in simplicity. The unique value lies in the thoughtfulness of the design and the permeating emotional story. The skills developed throughout the centuries to master the available natural resources – forests, fields, and waters – form the basis of contemporary Latvian design.

Sabine Mezkaze Berzina, “Dusk” Mouth-Blown Glass Mirror Centerpiece

Why have you chosen the scenography of Jurmala beach and seascape for this collection?

The sea is a solid part of the DNA code of Latvia as its role in our lives is invaluable. It evokes a sense of hope and a sense of future; an unpredictability; a passion; a wealth; and a power. The sea has inspired us for centuries and it continues to inspire us today. It affects how we live, what we think, feel, and create.

Renāts Kotļevs, “Milan” Dining Table

The pieces of this collection seem to reflect the seaside scenography. What qualities were you looking for when curating pieces for this collection?

By choosing works for the collection, I was looking to designers of various disciplines and generations, united by the passion to discover new dimensions of material, as a result of endless experiments. The chosen artworks represent style and skills manifesting through physical qualities, high aesthetics, and emotional attachment.

Artis Nimanis, “SUN&MOON” Art Object #03

A variety of materials and techniques are evident in the pieces of the collection – from An&Angel’s glass work to Jelizaveta Suska’s jewellery. Can you describe how this variety of approaches is reflected in the contemporary Latvian design scene?

The variety of approaches of these six designers represents the contemporary design scene in Latvia. Based on strong craft skills combined with a desire to experiment, they create contemporary design objects that are natural, authentic, and emotional.

Jelizaveta Suska, “Rebirth 3” Necklace

With reference to the Virtual Design Destination’s theme, how does this collection respond to the so-called “New Reality”?

In this technology-ridden, super-fast reality, we have rediscovered human connection to nature and the importance of physical contact. It stopped us and made us think about what is really valuable, and that only seems from a distance. The collection manifests the synergy between man-made design and nature. The objects included in the collection disclose the absolute beauty of the precise details and techniques noticeable when looked at close up, while the dazzling effect of the designs can be seen from afar. These associations created the title “Near and Far – Be Dazzled!”.

Ieva Kaleja, “The Queen” Double Lamp

Has your approach to the curation of this collection been affected by the ongoing uncertainty in the world? Why or why not?

It certainly created a specific emotional background. It gave more emphasis to the emotional dimension in the design objects, highlighting the synergy between nature and man-made design in the collection.

 

Meet Dita Danosa

Dita Danosa, Head of Latvian Design Centre, is a design visionary and truly passionate person, who has devoted the last ten years to the development of the fashion industry in Latvia, and now, for more than five years, also to the field of design.

Thirteen years ago, she entered the creative industries from the banking sector, where she had an outstanding career. The diversity of her experience is the basis of her wide field of activity, and her ability to manage so many different processes and create events as a curator and also a producer. In 2009, she entered the field of fashion with the belief that the fashion industry in Latvia could be reborn. She is responsible for organizing more than 15 fashion festivals, fashion weeks, and competitions in Latvia and abroad, organizing contact exchanges and educational seminars. Her enthusiasm was the basis for expanding her field of activity to the field of design, joining the Design Council in 2013 and becoming its head in 2014. During her presidency, the Latvian Design strategy was released, a tradition of the National Design Award was launched, and also, she co-curated the multi-exhibition cycle Design Manifestation. For two years now, she has established and leads the Latvian Design Centre, the main responsible body for design development in Latvia. Last year, she curated a design exhibition in Budapest and stepped into a unique design field. She believes that small Latvia has potential to become a design power.

Which aspects of curating a collection for a virtual exhibition have intrigued and/or surprised you?

The whole process was exciting. The real intrigue for me is how [the] ADORNO colleagues will create a virtual solution for the Latvian collection, because it is a real challenge to work with such strong design objects without seeing them in reality.

What are you most excited to share (ex. thematically, a piece, a designer, etc.) with the Virtual Design Destination audience?

Each of them should be highlighted.

Ieva Kaleja’s lamp “Queen” shows a fascinating play with precious and everyday material – gold and corroding steel – thus breaking the stereotyped boundary between valuable and worthless. In turn, the young jewellery designer Jelizaveta Suska’s collection “Rebirth” surprises with extensive colour experiments [created] with the most important material in Latvian jewellery – amber.

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“Near and Far – Be Dazzled!” is kindly supported by: