lyrical spaces

Text author: Mila Tešić

Laura, a villa from 1928, has been completely renovated for the needs of an exhibition space, a gallery of
applied art that exhibits items by young regional designers, mostly from the Faculty of Applied Arts and
the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade.


Space is our medium of communication. Inside its three dimensions we try to give its users a pleasant experience of dwelling in an area that is functional, accessible and humane. Besides fulfilling the mentioned conditions that bear the promise of a successfully designed interior, we asked ourselves- is there something beyond?

Can a space serve as a lyrical method that speaks of our thoughts and inner world that we carry within?
In a steep cobbled street near Mostar, villa Laura was built in 1928. It was constructed in the spirit of Russian romanticism, but it lies cheek to cheek with brutalist titans. Her environment is irrational- the traditional cobble- potholed, noisy and eastern is layed down between an industrial giant BIGZ, a western- style luxury hotel and the humming of engines on the highway. Jovana Ristica street is actually a pretty authentic postcard of the capital- contrasted, narrow and abrupt.
Her name, Laura, is reminiscent of Petrarca; the archetype of platonic love, unearthly, untouchable, one that transcends time and space.

“Lady, beneath the sun’s circle,
Love has no greater treasure than you.”

Villa Laura becomes a myth of a women- the inspiration, the chronicle, the song, the emotion. It becomes a lyric, and presents us with a task: how do we articulate poetic connotations inside a functional space?
Adopting this approach had a great meaning to us. It was important for us to try to stay truthful to the nature of our profession- design exists to serve men, to make his everyday easier and embellish it. At the same time, however, we wanted Laura to inspire and speak to people that are around her. To have a symbolical impact on her visitors and give them the impressions that are out of the spheres of material or verbal expression. We wanted the people to feel a space dedicated to certain carnal and mental states that can be important or memorable to us.
Therefore, the house is divided into zones of usual use: the entry, living room, kitchen with dining room, staircase, bedroom and a leisure room. Nonetheless, besides their basic use, every room was assigned with a meaning that should provoke certain emotional associations with its visitors.
So the entry became Laura’s eyes; the eyes are the first thing we see when we meet someone, a window that suggests the inner being of the person we are observing. Laura’s eyes are green, the materials that describe them have optical qualities (reflection, light, matte, glazed), and the forms inside the room are chosen so they suggest the physiognomy of the eye (circular ring with pendants, the ceramic counter).

“that I was captured, and did not defend myself,
because your lovely eyes had bound me, Lady.”

Leaning on to the living room lies the kitchen with dining room. A room of smells, where the nose tells us of the impressions around us: in the plate before us or on the neck of the girl beside us.
The living room and the dining room open two separate views into the staircase- they are the guideposts towards the rest of Laura’s secret.

The staircase is golden, chiselled with thin vertical
lines across the marble walls, the ash on the rail and the tropical plants beneath. It leads us upwards,
away from the physical features of Laura, through the strains of her hair bathed in light that shimmers
in front of us.

“Blessed be all those verses I scattered
calling out the name of my lady”

From this golden stairwell we enter the bedroom- Laura’s dreams. The space where we sleep is mystical and imaginative. The shapes are spectral, stellar. The room is full of apparitions, haze, gleaming circles and endless strokes of light. The place where we dream holds pieces of our dreams. After seeing Laura’s face we enter her dreams, her thoughts.

“That golden hair that might make the sun
move far away in envy”

The last room is also the last place we enter when we meet someone – the heart. It is warm and gentle,
and the objects in it are mostly parts of one whole. We are surrounded by a symmetry of shapes torn in
two, like two halves that merge when people decide to open their hearts to each other.

“Love discovered me all weaponless,
and opened the way to the heart through the eyes,
which are made the passageways and doors of tears”

The space we live, work, sleep or eat in can be more than a number of objects distributed around as storage, support or decoration. Space, as other forms of shaping, can inspire us, speak to us, evoke feelings inside us. It can be a mode of lyrical expression and a way to communicate with its users on a non- verbal level.
Our goal was to make the space inside Laura suggest its function and as such provoke certain emotional reaction within the people who dwell in it; to make it speak of the contrast of the conditions it exists in and us along with it; of the junction of extremities and the beauty of life in such irrationality; of finding values in routine and their glorification.
Thanks to a great number of talented individuals and valuable collectives, our attempt to create a space of distinguished characteristics can be called a success. Because Laura is formed by their work, knowledge, effort and time whose value is immeasurable:

Fiona Sinđelić Stefanović

Sonja Tonev

Mladen Vračević

Leona Mijić

Anastasija Čolaković

Tamara Švonja

Lazar Spasojević

Ana Nenadović

Andreja Pavićević

Aino Michelsen

studio Fluid

Mette Vinther Jensen

Vesna Bašić

Ana Drobnjaković

Miroslav Veljić

Aleksandra Jović

Ksenija Josifović

Vanja Ivković

Mina Mališić

Damir Krdžović

Mila Tešić.

Authors of exhibition space architecture:

Mila Tešić

Mina Mališić

Damir Krdžović