“When they see something or someone they like, people will rarely react by saying: ‘Oh, this is so beautiful!’ or ‘You look so good!’… Of course, there are always honourable exceptions.”
Krešimir Haramina is a Zagreb architect whose primary passion is good and durable design, particularly quality furniture, “with a signature”. Combining business with pleasure, with his company Zona moderna (today Studio Haramina) he was among the first, if not the very first dealer and representative for high-end Italian furniture in Croatia (and not only Italian). Haramina’s showroom portfolio comprises a number of renowned designer names and brands, including such timeless classics as Le Corbusier, but also young, up-and-coming authors. We popped by Haramina’s shop and office in Vojnovićeva street in order to hear first-hand what his peculiar business and life philosophy consists of.
Krešimir Haramina: We came to Vojnovićeva by pure chance, because this space became available, and somebody told me about it. I live nearby, but I hadn’t even noticed that there was an insurance company office here… The space itself was nice, but the neighbourhood… I’m not sure it will be able to transform quickly. Studio Haramina (then Zona moderna) had previously been located in a very beautiful space near Ilica street, at the first floor of a 1930s building in Obrtnički passage, but they had to move. We were among the first to come here, while Martićeva was still a place where you went looking for car parts. Everybody else followed much later.
We work with the type of furniture where you don’t count on passing-by customers. It is no secret that our products are expensive and in a way exclusive, I am afraid that is — that… I would like to have more passers-by come to us, more “strollers”, as we call them, who would just come in and buy something, but that is basically impossible. There is no “messing” in our offer, no plastic objects such as those by Karim Rashid, for example, our offer is based on a few consistent brands. We started by representing and distributing the design by the Cappellini company, and later we expanded our offer to include other brands — Cassina, De Padova, Boffi, etc. We also have furniture by Mario Bellini, Rodolfo Dordoni, Piero Lissoni and Philippe Starck, all world-renowned designer names. We are trying to build a certain image.
— Studio Haramina’s portfolio is modelled with great care and dedication, and although there is always room for experiments, its direction is firm and clear.
KH: We don’t represent Croatian designers because I believe that mixing domestic and foreign design would be counterproductive in this context. To be clear, I think it all looks great, especially furniture by the authors represented by Prostoria, but that is another story, different from our own. Our prices vary according to the materials, ways of production… I have to say that many big furniture manufacturers we cooperate with have finally started producing tailored elements, which is also what they do for us when we collaborate on bigger projects, and that is our standard way of functioning.
Lately, we have decorated the interior of Villa Dubrovnik hotel in Dubrovnik with the studio BIF and the Management office of Zagrebačka banka, and now we are working on a similar task for the Adris group, with the renowned architect Vedrana Ergić. So, we focus on designing business and private spaces for clients with bigger financial resources. We would like to be more involved in designing, but that is not always possible, considering that trade is still the cornerstone of our activities. But I am not a classic tradesman, in the sense that I don’t care whether I’m selling car parts, sandwiches or designer furniture.
— Haramina also told us about how he sees the increasingly intensive changes in the neighbourhood, expanding their context a bit…
KH: It is evident that certain changes are emerging here. However, I think that we are lacking a sense for a culture of beauty, in society in general, not only in design or architecture. In Italy beauty comes first, then everything else. We should work on developing such a culture, but I don’t know in what way. Look around you — everybody is dressed similarly, everybody looks similar, everybody drives similar cars and shops in similar stores. Everything is too similar! When they see something or someone they like, people will rarely react by saying: “Oh, this is so beautiful!” or “You look so good!”… Of course, there are always honourable exceptions. I look at all of that as a passive observer, exposed to the environment and media, because we work with a different type of people. My clients are not rock stars, although I would actually like them to be, but not because rock stars have money. Some of those stars, you’d be surprised — have a good head on their shoulders!