Famous names of history glow immensely. What we write as today’s trend is tomorrow’s dream. The mission of the Los Angeles Architecture MasterPrize (AMP) https://architectureprize.com/winners/winner.php?id=2048&mode=hm&compID=12791 is “to advance the appreciation and exposure of quality architectural design worldwide”. As the Slovene nation, we are enormously proud of our distinguished masters and experts known worldwide, and this prize gained by Magnet Design, the architecture firm led by Robert Klun, is not an exception. The world of forms, lines and spaces has radically changed and what we perceive and comprehend is evinced in minds of genius and courage to touch the indefatigable force of life. I had the privilege to interview Mr. Robert Klun, director of the Magnet Design architecture firm and KLUN Ambienti family business, where he recently, amongst others, unveiled felicitous charity project C19 CHAIR.ity at the Blickfang Vienna exhibition.
(Interview by Prof. Lucija Mulej, PhD)
- Mr. Klun, you are a distinguished and renowned architect with sagacious solutions for exterior and interior architecture and design. As the former president of the Slovene design association, you recently unveiled the charity project, C19 CHAIR.ity chair, reminding us of the corona virus and the world’s struggle to overcome this peril. After launching this resounding idea, you were nominated as AMP winner for EXPO Dubai. Your architecture and design are assuredly special.
Yes, it is true. Difficult times really inspire and pose challenges that encourage new solutions. The C19 CHAIR.ity chair is a creative response to the new corona virus. I tried to shape and develop a story, something positive beyond this trauma we citizens of the world encounter. Its shape is a mapping of the crown (corone in Latin), a layer of plasma around the Sun, representing the energies of the universe. The crown emits light and temperature, two essential conditions for life on Earth. And although the virus is named after this inexhaustible energy, the solar corona is nevertheless a symbol of the interdependence and interconnectedness of humanity in a coordinated fight against disease and action for a better tomorrow. The C19 CHAIR.ity chair allows you to rest and recharge with positive energy, while its shape can be adjusted. Combining a larger number of chairs gives a new shape and additional possibilities for furnishing and enlivening the interior. In addition, the possible shape of a clock mechanism symbolizes the time we perceive so differently. And yes, I am really honoured to receive the Los Angeles AMP prize. Along with many years of struggle, dedication and commitment, every accreditation brings comfort and inner joy.
- You are the director of two companies. KLUN AMBIENTI is an eminent handicraft and strong family business, focused on sustainable and traditional development of design and functionality with a modern touch. How did you intertwine this vision into the C19 ikon? As we know, you introduced it at the Blickfang exhibition in Vienna and ORF TV also broadcasted the C19 CHAIR.ity idea.
C19 CHAIR.ity chairs are made of high-quality antibacterial materials. According to the principles of innovation, uniqueness and handicraft tradition, we make them in Slovenia, in the KLUN craft workshop with more than 40 years of tradition. The durability of the product is reflected in its humane design, quality material, precise workmanship, long-lasting and versatile usability, and easy maintenance. It is made of a solid wood base, with a core of special recyclable foam, covered with a 3D mash fabric. And charity as a noble form of social responsibility echoes the special dedication of my team and associates. KLUN AMBIENTI will share part of the proceeds from each chair sold, helping to educate talented young designers and architects. The project is carried out in cooperation with the Faculty of Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
- As the author of the awarded EXPO Dubai Slovenian Pavilion and as Los Angeles AMP awardee, your name echoes. Can you tell us more about this deft solution? And how is the corona crisis influencing the project and all relevant business opportunities?
The selected concept of a three-storied structure was created in my architecture firm Magnet Design and will present Slovenia the green oasis of Europe. Since the exhibition is held in the United Arab Emirates where the desert echoes seraphic sensations, we certainly are cognizant of this exclusive opportunity.
The basic idea is to combine three elements: a water platform, representing a mirror, the Slovenian national treasure, the forest, floating above water level, and an umbrella, a parasol, made of wood. Entitled “Slovenia – Green Smart Experience«, the Slovenia Pavilion will use elements of water, nature, and technology to address the novel elements of sustainability and green in its strict sense: not just engaging all five (and other) senses, we will try to give visitors an in-depth view and rumination of Slovenian culture. Populated by Slovenian plant species, the ‘floating forest’ will, for example, be topped off by a sieve-dome that resembles a parasol. The ground floor’s theme will be water, representing the country’s sea, rivers, lakes, and particularly drinking water. Water will be surrounding the central part, a market with four cardinal points marked on the floor, representing Slovenia’s position at the nexus of transport routes. The first floor will be showcasing Slovenia’s forests, with green plants climbing the wooden rim of the structure. The second floor, intended for VIP visitors, will present the Slovenian economy. The pavilion’s roof is set to be designed as a sieve, to honour the long tradition of making woodenware products in the town of Ribnica, in the south of Slovenia, my homeland and place of origin. The pavilion structure in the Sustainability District will make innovative use of wood, glass, steel, and water to give visitors the impression they are surrounded by a forest suspended in the air.
- On your web pages, we get easily enchanted by the shape of designs, sofas, couches as well as architecture and visual arts in general. Confidently, you create inner space for insights and novel conceptions of the “real”, “possible” and “suitable”. Where is the special place for imagination here?
It is true, we search for astute solutions. We try to offer an exceptional and diverse program of unique upholstered furniture as well as architecture. Sofas, armchairs, and beds are not only living witnesses of current stories but also of the distant past. And they are not just signs of our or your intimate history, but also witnesses of past cultural and aesthetic influences of the great stylistic periods, like the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism, and the modern age. When designing upholstered elements in the KLUN AMBIENTI studio, we follow intimate stories as central stylistic guidelines in design that we upgrade with our innovative solutions. And what is mostly inherent, and intimate is what certainly and inevitably interlaces my vision, touch, and imagination of our clients, trying to live as happily as possible. And previously mentioned C19 ikon also carries this emblem within. And EXPO Dubai Pavilion as the architecturally rewarded and noticed project that addresses our probity for future visons.
- You are also the director and owner of MAGNET DESIGN studio, an often-awarded architecture studio. What is the vison of MD and how are you planning to adjust your architecture to the contemporary corona situation?
My vision is simple: to create in line with nature and the sustainable co-evolution of space-time-consciousness, as well as to be able to serve my clients’ visions for better and healthier living. With a simplicity of forms and designs, we can contribute to equilibrium and thus support world stability. Our slogan “touch the heaven” is truly the mission that represents our will to serve our dear clients, partners, and friends.
- Are you expecting any drastic alterations of the architectural paradigm due to the corona situation?
We believe that all parameters of the reality that we once knew are altering. Architecture is alive and as far as we can change inwardly, we have a chance to create lucid visions with strong actions. We can and must co-create our public and intimate spaces with the right touch, and the language of cooperation instead of competition. I hope we will once again rediscover and implement our origins and roots, towards natural materials searching for inner “satisfaction” in the beauty of the ambient. All clean open areas usually yield imagination and creativity.
- Will the future world in your opinion enter any great divide, since the corona virus is still the main agenda and future resources are diminishing? Are we heading for a bright future, or something revolutionary that will totally change our lives?
I am overly optimistic; this is my nature. And big change never happens overnight. Alternations and transformations of societies are ongoing, already for a while, and we as humanity can always prevail against perilous circumstances and conditions. We must remember architecture is art and engineering science, all in one. As the architects and designers of a new area, we must follow our dreams, trying to teach our clients to find unique moments in the detail and the ambience we deliver through constant auto-reflection. The path is unconceivable, the year 2020 itself is beyond imagination, but our focus is strong, and I am determined to search and research even deeper and stronger. I know we will have the resolve, and the stamina and will share this knowledge with our clients and partners with a vision and open hearts in the great future we are all heading towards.