"Time for Change": Romania at Virtual Design Destination 2020

“The collection is … a small window into the contemporary Romanian design scene, which during this period tries to reinvent itself and to adapt to the new realities, by innovating and changing their practices.”

– Maria Nerieciu & Jimmy MacDonald, co-curators of the Romanian collection, “Time for Change”

“Time for Change” 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 curators Maria Nerieciu & Jimmy MacDonald in conversation with Kristen de la Vallière of @sayhito_ on Tuesday, 15 September at 10:00 AM BST. “Time for Change” is kindly supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute, London & Romania Design Week.

A space for travelling to and fro. A space for waiting. A space for thinking. The train station provides the perfect context for the theme of change with its thick, concrete walls referring to past architectural ideals contrasted with the colourful, textural collectible design pieces of talented contemporary makers. The brutalist structure comes to represent tradition and heritage, within which the contemporary designs it hosts act to merge the past, present, and future. Ideas of new materials, alternative methods of creation, and imaginative forms are actively cultivated in this space of change and future-thinking. With so much space to explore, we’re able to raise important questions about our new reality: what do we bring with us into this future? What do we leave in the past?

“Time for Change”, a Romanian collection curated by Maria Nerieciu and Jimmy MacDonald, showcases the experimental and conceptual work of seven emerging designers, bringing new viewpoints to the contemporary collectible Romanian design scene. Their work speaks to the theme of change as their practices focus on weaving together the traditional and the contemporary; research to develop innovative techniques and forms; and create pieces that are very much of the moment. From trompe l’oeil-style imagery, to intuitively designed lighting, to the use of new, sustainable materials, this collection points towards the future of Romanian design – a future which honours tradition, while allowing for new voices, processes, and imaginative opportunities.

“Time for Change” features work by Agnes Lucaks, Co/rizom, Dare to Rug, Stefan Pavaluta for Deltacraft, Radu Abraham, Stardust Architects, and UAU. See these pieces in person and meet the designers at Romania Design Week, running from 11 to 20 September 2020.

Time for Change

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

The collection presents three types of objects: objects that use traditional crafts and techniques in a very contemporary and fresh language; objects that started from research related to new materials or forms; and, third, very intuitive compositions and almost reckless gestures.
What they do have in common is a forward looking, empathetic, innovative approach. They have in common a drive for CHANGE!

Dare to Rug, “Shade IX” Rug

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

Fresh, Brave, Intuitive, and…Resilient.

There are four words, I know, but it is hard to briefly describe the contemporary design scene in Romania, because it has the effervescence and diversity specific to a very young and alive market. It is still very conceptual, sometimes immature, however, very honest and unpredictable – in a good way. In a creative way. It is also resilient, in the sense that it finds creative solutions to contemporary, social, political, and often financial or environmental problems.

Why have you chosen the scenography of a brutalist rail station for this collection?

[We chose this] because we always wanted to organize an exhibition in a rail station and so far we haven’t managed to – kidding!. We choose a rail station because I believe it is a very powerful space and it can be a very beautiful symbol for the theme of CHANGE, which is probably somewhere between waiting and leaving. I think it is also a very good metaphor for the importance of quality architecture in public spaces, but also for the importance of embracing and appreciating one’s cultural heritage, in order to evolve.

“…the practices showcased in this collection are drivers of change, they are innovators and pioneers who do not shy away from the past or their creative heritage, but know how to embrace it.”

“Time for Change” includes a variety of design approaches – from functional to conceptual pieces – and a range of materials and techniques. With reference to the theme, what aspects of the participating designers’ practices were you most drawn to while curating pieces for this collection?

Their practices and the processes they use or invent were the fundamental reason why we wanted them as part of this exhibition, as their design approaches are very forward looking, focusing on experiment, new forms, or materials, as well as on the impact of their objects beyond the end user.

Their ability to analyze and use new materials and forms are creatively counteracted by a freedom of expression and intuitive gestures. Therefore, the practices showcased in this collection are drivers of change, they are innovators and pioneers who do not shy away from the past or their creative heritage, but know how to embrace it.

With your experience in and knowledge of the Romanian design scene, can you describe how this moment of (and necessity for) change has affected contemporary designers and artists?

I believe that, during this period, everyone felt the need to reanalyze and recalibrate their values, priorities, principles, processes, activities, or results. I think we were shaken and forced out of our comfort zone. And that, for creatives at least, can only be a good thing in the long run. But, I also think (and know) that, on the other hand, many of the designers face problems and that the creative and cultural industries in general need support now more than ever. And more than financial support, they deserve recognition of the fact that they are key contributors to designing a more balanced future.

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

The collection is, first of all, an exhibition adapted to the new realities and constraints, a virtual exhibition, which highlights the importance of collaborations between countries, between Adorno, Romanian Design Week, and The Romanian Cultural Institute in London and between designers, curators, and the international design scene.

The collection is also a small window into the contemporary Romanian design scene, which during this period tries to reinvent itself and to adapt to the new realities, by innovating and changing their practices.

"Hempiric" Lamp
Agnes Lucaks, “Hempiric” Lamp

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

The ongoing situation will probably change the world forever and the uncertainty we face has become a very stressful factor for all of us, but unpredictability in itself is still (and always will be) an essential ingredient of creativity and change in general. Limitations and challenges often generate innovation and opportunities and we can transform resilience into anti-fragility by using the best we have in terms of creativity. So the theme of CHANGE was definitely shaped and enhanced by the ongoing situation.

Meet Maria Nerieciu & Jimmy MacDonald

With more than thirteen years experience in creative industries as a cultural manager and as a journalist, Maria Neneciu is part of the Romanian Design Week core-team since the beginning of the event, more than eight years ago. Meanwhile, RDW has become an authority in the local design scene and one of the most important multidisciplinary events in the region. Maria is interested in how creativity and cultural industries can become tools for urban development.

Maria has been written and published about design, architecture and the role of creative and cultural industries for urban and social development, both at BBC Good Homes, some local specialized publications and Institute, the magazine, and she now contributes to The Institute’s online platform and is part of the (creative) teams of some of the most important projects signed by The Institute- the ecosystem for local creative industries in Romania, such as: Romanian Design Week, Diploma or Bucharest Creative Quarter.

She has an MA in Intercultural Management at UNESCO Chair from the The University of Bucharest and a BA in Economy and Public Policies.

Jimmy MacDonald is the commercial Director of Adorno and Founder of London Design Fair – an exhibitions man who knows how to drum up both physical and digital audiences with long standing connections with the design industry, embassies and cultural institutions.

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

I believe that curating a collection for a virtual exhibition forces you to focus more on the importance of processes and practices and maybe a little bit less on the technical details or finishes of the object itself. The first projects that you think of are, intuitively, those signed by designers that have interesting approaches, innovative practices, and very strong narratives. Those that are quite brave and outstanding and that is how I realised that all of those practices were actually drivers of change in the local market and hence, developed the curatorial theme from there.

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

I am most excited to share some great Romanian designers with ADORNO and with an international audience that I am sure will find their works outstanding. Also about the fact that this year’s Romanian Design Week theme – CHANGE is recontextualized and rethought in a virtual rail station, part of the London Design Festival.

“Time for Change” is kindly supported by:


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