Exhibition Design – “Stories That Tailor Varteks” in Croatia

The exhibition about the hundred-year-old history of Varteks – one of the largest and most productive textile factories in Croatia, recently took place in the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb. The exhibition “Stories That Tailor Varteks” showcased the creative work and trendsetting designs of this Croatian fashion brand through fourteen stylish stories, returning to the past and looking to the future of fashion and style.

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“Stories That Tailor Varteks” told us about the creative role of Varteks on the world fashion scene, such as Zuzi Jelinek‘s fashion creation designed for Varteks, women workers who enabled the development of this industry, marketing activities from the 1930s to the present time, presentation of the brand’s coats, suits and business wear in various printed media and promotional materials, etc.

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Photo by Mare Milin

The exhibition was realized through the cooperation of the Museum of Arts and Crafts, the Varazdin City Museum and the company Varteks d.d. The multidisciplinary team of many experts planned, organized, and realized this stylish fashion exhibition.

“Stories That Tailor Varteks” exhibition design at the Museum of Arts and Crafts, as well as the visual identity of the exhibition, is signed by the design team of the creative agency Brigada – Damjan Geber (Creative Director), Kristina Volf (Art Director), Marina Brletic (Exhibition Designer), Marija Lukic (Project Manager).

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Since I wanted to discover the design story behind the exhibition, I talked with Marina Brletic – architect and exhibition designer at Brigada. Here is what she told me.

“The concept behind the exhibition was to show stories related to Varteks. Almost every one of us knows something interesting, some detail that reminds us of Varteks, whether it’s a mom’s coat, a commercial and a store window display from the 1980s, or the favorite pair of Levi’s jeans. We wanted each visitor to discover a story that matters to him. Perhaps it is the story about Zuzi Jelinek’s design, perhaps about a woman worker or about tailoring a uniform. We selected the material for the exhibition in collaboration with and based on the exhibition that was opened last year in Varazdin, under the name “Varteks Century of Textiles”, designed jointly by the Varazdin City Museum and the Varteks company, thanks to this we had access and assistance in finding a comprehensive material related to the 100th anniversary of Varteks. One of the interesting details was a visit to the Varazdin factory where we got the idea to show the old sewing machines, and decorate the entire museum wall with them.”

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Photo from the Archive of the Varazdin City Museum and the Company Varteks d.d.

“As the first story of the exhibition, we decided to show the contemporary clothing pieces by Varteks, a new fashion collection, and since the movement through the exhibition is circular, that is also the last story a visitor goes through before going out. In doing so, we wanted to emphasize the modernity and future of Varteks and the quality of the design and manufacturing of the garment that has always been present. Modernity and quality are both the beginning and the end, and in between is the history of Varteks as the key part of Croatia’s textile and fashion heritage.”

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Photo by Mare Milin

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Photo by Mare Milin

“The elements of the exhibition design layout are the textiles that create the zones or “dress” individual stories (from the story about Varteks’ worldwide collaborations to the story about the production process). Textiles, ie, curtains that form partitions, direct the movement of visitors through space. We came up with this idea by thinking about Varteks, that is, from the beginning of the creative process in the textile industry, which is textiles and shapes. We have translated the idea of textiles and shapes into a spatial experience. At the Varteks factory, we have selected the materials they use in their production. Some of these textiles are quite old, and some are contemporary, yet all of them look the way we wanted in the space, so it may not be a matter of trend, but of implementing the idea from concept to spatial experience and the story of Varteks that the visitors take with them.”

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By Danica Maričić

Interior Designer and Integrated Marketing Communications Pro, Loving Writing and Photography, Passionate about Life & Style, “True Blue” Mediterranean Girl, Curious Traveller & Designer