01. Aug 2023
Photo: Studio Industrija

All good ideas always come about by chance, and so the idea was suddenly born in the head of a Belgrade professor that, in addition to his regular job, he would devote himself to the design and production of unique pieces of furniture. While furnishing a friend's apartment, Aleksandar Kostić could not help but notice that pieces of furniture have the same type, seen within the framework of an established design and pattern that is replicated at every step and in every showroom. This led him to think about it and productively conclude that he could do it better. At the beginning, he only had the idea to jump out of that template and not make it according to the standard, but according to the requirements of the space where furniture finds its place and refines it, with one obligatory note, and that is, in harmony with nature. From the initial idea until now, he has already made many original pieces of furniture, and in the meantime, he has enriched his workshop with modern machines and tools in order to bring his creative ideas to perfection that have no replica.

Aleksandar Kostić, founder, Studio Industrija / Photo: Studio Industrija

What do you most often make of furniture? Is it usually just a piece, such as a table or display case, or do you completely furnish entire spaces?

When we say that we produce pieces of furniture, the first association is usually a coffee table or something small. That was, in fact, the initial idea, but later, from small things to lamps and chandeliers, we began to draw summer kitchens, massive garden tables, shelves and showcases for both home and hospitality facilities, and everything else that we thought could find an application. The idea was to make slightly different things, as we see them. In the end, it is always our vision that we complete with the client's wishes.

Where do you find inspiration for such original products? At what moment is your vision born?

We look for inspiration in the spaces we furnish. Not every piece of furniture can find its place everywhere; the space and the furniture must match. When we feel the space and hear the client's wishes, we photograph the space and start drawing the furniture and choosing materials and tones. Unlike other studios that present a sparse and unrealistic rendering of an apartment with furniture, we insert furniture into the photographed space, and the client gets a 100% realistic representation of how the furniture will look in the room. This is very important because people want to see an absolutely realistic representation of their future bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc. We call it a photo from the near future. A good example of this was at the very beginning of our business, when we were hired by the owner of the ethno restaurant "Braća" from Batajnica, Žare Kuvačić, with the desire to create a homely atmosphere in the spirit of the restaurant. We took photos of all the rooms, developed the idea, fit all the elements in the space, and presented it to the owner, who, after realization, received an absolutely identical space that was presented to him.

Photo: Studio Industrija

How would you describe a unique design that gives an author's stamp to the furniture you make?

The directions on which we base our design are Pure Industrial and Steampunk, and we adapt it to natural materials; more precisely, we create a combination of industry and nature, custom-made to the client's wishes, and then we justify our slogan "custom-made nature". It often happens to us that the order is for a standard chandelier or planter. In that case, we analyze all the flaws of the standard and bring our ideas into realization, which results in the final product having a creative stamp, having a soul, and as such being unique. We never combine standard things. Something always has to be special to stop the viewer's gaze, to attract attention, to be special for some symbolic detail, so the product gains its charisma. Why don't we install standard bulbs on our chandeliers, which every cafe and restaurant has? Because a ten times larger light bulb combines ten times better with the space and stands out in its purpose and originality.

Photo: Studio Industrija

Is furniture with a soul manufactured primarily by hand, or does today's technology allow for more creative design and manufacturing expression?

We started with small hand tools and small machines. The challenge was to create something good in bad conditions, but despite the limitations, we somehow managed to make a good product. Over time, we invested in machines and built a solid workshop that is still small today but sufficient for all our creative ideas. With modern machines, we have made our work easier and created greater possibilities in processing, but large machines will never be able to leave that natural final moment as human touch with a small tool can. We used to buy cut, semi-finished pieces of wood and use them for various creations, but now we have the possibility to use the whole tree and process it as needed. What is natural should remain natural; we try to leave the property of wood in all its beauty as much as possible with minimal processing.

What materials do you use to make furniture? You mentioned the combination of industry and nature. Does that mean, first of all, clean wood and recycling?

The most common material is solid wood. Compared to chipboard, MDF, and similar products, only real wood can provide a natural feel. Not to mention the beautiful smell of wood when a piece of furniture is brought into the space. In particular, we use oak, pine, thermotreated ash, walnut, and poplar, and we usually combine them with wrought iron and modern "Edison" bulbs, depending on the piece of furniture being made. We often take old wood, such as railway beams and old wooden wheels, which we process and refine to create a new life out of them while at the same time preserving their history and authenticity. We also work with marble and more modern materials; we combine several materials in order to respect the direction, whether it is an ethnic or a minimalist choice.

Photo: Studio Industrija

Who are your customers mostly, and for which spaces do you make furniture?

Our clients are mostly people who don't buy classic furniture in salons but want something unique in their space. Not every space is created for a standard piece of furniture, nor is every dimension suitable. Sometimes we get a very clear guideline of what the client would like, and we add our own ideas in order to reach an absolute result. And sometimes we simply start from scratch to think about and combine space through drawings, sketches, and photo manipulations in Photoshop. We make furniture for living rooms, such as coffee tables, chests of drawers, shelves, beds and wardrobes for bedrooms, bathroom furniture, all the way to garden furniture, and everything else where we can express ourselves creatively. We do not do serial production. There is no table that we have made twice. Everything is the product of one moment, the one when we combine our creation with nature and create the right and custom-made balance in perfection.

Photo: Studio Industrija

How unusual is it that, as a professor at the High School of Construction and Surveying, you developed a hobby into such a creative craft?

No previous knowledge is required for this job; only a love for nature and creation is required. You just need to see things from a different angle and make them better, more beautiful, and more comfortable for life. As a professor at the High School of Construction and Geodesy, it was unthinkable for me to start producing pieced furniture, but while I was looking for a balance, my love and affection for this hobby prevailed, primarily out of a great desire to create a unique product from nature out of nothing. My son Nikola also got fond of this job; he always found himself near the workshop to help. His big contribution was when he came up with the idea to renovate his room in an industrial style and even made detailed sketches. This later influenced the very name of the company, Studio Industrija.

By: Ana Kralj

Photo: Studio Industrija

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