20 September 2017
by Kai Lobjakas
Kai Lobjakas is one of the 18 international delegates joining us in London this month for this year's Design Connections programme. Find out more about her and her thoughts on design in Estonia.
Please tell us about yourself, your work or organization
I'm an art historian, curator and head of the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design. With a background in art history, I’ve been mainly working on making the field of design, both local and international, visible and understood as a multifaceted, intriguing and powerful phenomenon.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve been compiling a book on Estonian design and preparing an intensive project, digitizing of the museum’s collection. I can’t wait to have both ready!
What are the hot topics in design in your country at the moment? What are the challenges that design or designers are facing in your country at the moment?
As a small country, the main challenge is to be visible and have a vision that works and makes a difference in a larger scale. Since Estonia has had several “new beginnings” and a period cut-off from a large part of the world, there isn’t much of a well-known tradition, but nevertheless a lot of potential and real power.
Tell us about a designer to watch from your country at the moment and why we should know about their work?
I’m personally impressed by a designer’s capability of rethinking the stereotypes, conventions, valid concepts.There are several designers producing work which balances the ideas of handmade, craft and the everyday, stepping out of the traditional and reinventing the concepts. Check the work of ceramicist Raili Keiv, textile designer Mare Kelpman and fashion designer Marit Ilison. The last find for me was Annike Laigo’s clever work, Visible Invisible. I also suggest looking at Estonian contemporary jewelry. With a strong conceptual base and playing with impressive ideas and materials, it is really exciting and astonishing.
What excites you about UK design? What are you looking forward to seeing at the London Design Festival?
I’ve actually been always intrigued by the Festival but have for different reasons never visited. My wish is to see as many practices, personalities, and approaches as possible. I think the UK with its strong and impressive base, background and tradition in design, is in an interesting position of renewing itself, alongside the international scene relating to it.
Each year during London Design Festival (LDF) we invite key design industry figures from around the world to join us for our Design Connections programme. The delegation will take a unique curated tour of the festival, meeting leading UK designers, curators, design organisations as well as discovering new work and gaining new relationships. Find out more about Design Connections here.