Questions, comments or suggestions? email me at:
Don't miss out a chance to win in our monthly "Croatianicity" t-shirt and fridge magnet draw!

petak, 22. lipnja 2018.

Photos Of The Day: New Zagreb Neighbourhood Celebrating Creativity And Design &...Eclectic "Designer Outlet Croatia" Officially Opened

Although Zagreb has always been arty and a center for the arts, now newer creative initiatives like the Design District Zagreb are putting it on the map as a centre of interesting design projects and artworks, installations in public spaces and fresh new concepts, which also raises the quality of life of locals at the same time.

I'm finding all the non-celeb stabbings, shootings, botched robberies/drug deals and non-celeb gangs and road rage pointless bs news around here boring, (if there' s any so-called news types people reading this will you please spare us that shit and just go straight to the sports and real celeb news, all the viewers will appreciate it), so instead here's something different for a change of pace and different. Firstly though I should remind that this is NOT any sort of tourism post whatsoever, (because as regular readers already know I don't do tourism posts and this is not a tourism blog, it's just information for the benefit of the reader not generally known), the first article I came across by chance while looking for something else at the euronews site and it immediately caught my interest so I decided to post about it.

Although of course there's already plenty of bars/pubs/bistros, restaurants, cafes and places to shop in the capital city Zagreb, but in this part of downtown some buildings that weren't being used to their best potential or just main;y unused were transformed over the years into a whole new design district. I know exactly where this area is too because I spent some time around there during my last few visits to Zagreb, (I had some important meetings with acquaintances there that affected the lives of people in various parts of the world, but they had to look like accidents), and I like what they'v added to it since. For example one block was mainly stores selling auto parts, car tires and a hardware store during the languid communist era, but since the 90s it's now a large showroom, a Booksa, a literary club, library café, art gallery and furniture store, it gives a whole new creative ambiance to the neighbourhood and gets a two thumbs up from me. And then some other newly opened stores, galleries and bars/cafes that likewise spruce up the bohemian neighbourhood into a more trendy, artsy, hip and generally cool place to hang out at. That's about it regarding that topic, I like what they did in this part of Zagreb...

The New Zagreb Neighbourhood Celebrating Creativity And Design 

Article text and images:

Zagreb's residents call the collection of streets located east of the Croatian National Bank and south of Vlaška Street, Martićeva, after its main thoroughfare. This neighbourhood used to be home to shops selling auto parts, car dealerships and hardware stores, many of which lowered their shutters and closed for good in the '90s.

In more recent years, the empty shopfronts and abandoned buildings have gradually been taken over and injected with a new creative energy. Designers, architects, artists and other creative entrepreneurs have opened design and architecture studios, art galleries, concept stores, as well as cafes, bars and bistros.

These share space with other everyday businesses like grocery stores, bicycle shops, bakeries, dry cleaners, fabric and haberdashery shops, and health food stores – a streetscape that reveals this is still very much a residential district.

New architecture studios, art galleries, and concept stores

The neighbourhood is also home to a few well-known architectural landmarks, like the ten-storey 'wooden skyscraper' by Drago Ibler and the colourful, modernist 'Vitić skyscraper', named after the apartment building's architect, Ivan Vitić.

Home to many cultural workers, architects and other creators in the neighbourhood is the 10 story iconic Vitić building, or just simply known as the Vitić skyscraper by the locals. Located along with some other nearby neo-baroque embellished buildings from the 19th century Habsburg era, after recent renovations it has shaped the identity of the bohemian ‘Martićeva Zone’ neighbourhood of Zagreb.

In the neighbourhood is also the well known Croatian designer furniture brand store Prostoria. 

A Martićeva landmark is Booksa, a literary club and the neighbourhood's first cultural space for book lovers. Open since 2004, this library and café feels a lot like a co-working space during the day, while at night there are events like book readings, lectures and workshops.

Mika Buljević, one of the founders of Booksa, says that the neighbourhood's population has not changed much in what has always been one of the city's more upmarket districts. But its appearance certainly has.

“Before, people would come here to shop for car tires and now it's for designer furniture or health food,” she says. “Now there are more fashion and creative businesses that have popped up and young people are coming here to work in creative industries. The neighbourhood has become a lot more dynamic, also thanks to its many bars and restaurants where people come to socialize.”

Slow living and shopping

Compared to the bustle and crowds of the city centre, life noticeably slows down here. Some business owners embrace the unhurried pace and have created spaces made for lingering.

Garderoba is a Croatian and also a Scandinavian-inspired fashion boutique on Martićeva Street, customers are served a glass of sparkling wine and the large spacious fitting rooms are fitted with sofas so that friends can lounge and have a drink together while trying on clothes.

The Miroslav Kraljević Gallery is also in the bohemian Martićeva Street zone, (named after the Croatian modernist painter Miroslav Kraljević) and another attraction of the Design District neighbourhood. Besides the regular exhibition programme, it organizes a residential programme for artists, diverse workshops and lectures. The gallery also has a publishing programme and numerous minor online projects.

“I wanted to be in a neighbourhood outside the busy city centre because I want to offer a slow shopping experience,” says Ana Ivančić, a former corporate CEO turned entrepreneur who opened Garderoba just over a year ago. “Zagreb was missing a boutique offering something between haute couture and high street brands. Our collection includes fashion by Danish and Swedish designers and Croatian creations by local designer Ivana Omazić.”

The Zagreb Design District covers a part of the Lower City (Donji Grad), mainly spread along Draškovićeva, Šubićeva, Vlaška, Zvonimirova and Martićeva streets, with Martićeva Street playing the central role.

Shoppers are also welcome to linger with a cup of coffee or tea while trying out the stylish sofas at the roomy light-filled space on Antun Bauer Street occupied by Prostoria, a popular Croatian designer furniture brand.

Located between Martićeva and King Zvonimir street the newly opened Noel Bar and Restaurant in this bohemian neighbourhood of Zagreb serves a variety of menu choices, specializing mainly in Croatian and European foods and focusing on seasonal dishes and ingredients. Esconced by a number of nearby neo-baroque embellished buildings from the 19th century Habsurg era, the local artists, designers, composers, chefs, musicians, poets and writers flock to this Zagreb neighbourhood's quirky cafes, congregate in its casual clubs and bistros and exhibit their output in offbeat galleries and other hipster hangouts. (see related post croatians-beers-world-lists)

And there's no shortage of cafes and bistros to people watch and idle the time away. A local hot spot is the new Noel Bar which many locals still call Blok Bar – the original name given to it because of its box-like design. Its open air terrace on the corner of Tomašića and Lopašićeva is a popular hang out, while other firm favourites on Martićeva Street are Mr. Fogg – Croatia's first Steampunk bar, and Program Bar.

Interior view of the newly added Steampunk bar Mr. Fogg and the Program Bar.

Named after Phileas Fogg, the protagonist of Jules Verne’s adventure novel “Around the World in Eighty Days,” Croatia’s first steampunk bar is a dark and smoky two-floor space with whimsical interiors and a streetside deck. A metalwork-decorated wooden bar also serves eclectic drinks besides the usual offerings, such as Japanese whiskey, Nicaraguan rum and Croatian travarica, (which is a herb brandy).

Although Zagreb has always been arty and a center for the arts, now newer creative initiatives like the Design District Zagreb are putting it on the map as a centre of interesting design projects and artworks, installations in public spaces and fresh new concepts, which also raises the quality of life of locals at the same time.

Design District Zagreb Festival

Ira Payer is a local designer who came up with the idea to celebrate the district's unique creative vibe. “I grew up in this neighbourhood, moved away, and then came back,” she says. “So did a lot of my school friends. I had the idea to have an event for all the creative people here to open their offices and studios and present their work and offer workshops as part of an open door day. When I spoke to them about it, they had lots of other ideas so together we decided to create a four-day festival.”

 The Martićeva neighbourhood has seen a preponderance of new galleries, bookshops and bistros settling in and around its main strip, and it has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years thanks to forward-thinking enterprises like the Croatian Design Superstore and related year round activities and projects. A brief highlight collage of what the Design District Zagreb is all about.

Design District Zagreb from Michael Becks on Vimeo.

Hanging out at one of the rooftop picnics in the neighbourhood, yoga in a nearby park and even "joga na krovu" (rooftop yoga) classes for a change of pace from the indoor yoga studios (also pay no heed to that kreten self-loather Pat Robertson and his stretching exercise and yoga/martial arts demons, he's just pointless full of camel shit dumdum and blind because he can't even see the ghoulish demons in front of his face, it's true).

Since its inception in June 2016, the four-day Design District Zagreb festival has been showcasing the creative incubator this neighbourhood has become while using its urban spaces in innovative and new ways.

This year's theme is 'local pathways', a series of events open to residents and non-residents of all ages. Streets will be closed to traffic and open to pedestrians and cyclists to explore public spaces transformed into art venues.

With the growing popularity of the Zagreb Design District and related projects since the 90s, (and especially the languid and stifling communist era), the neighbourhood and by extension the city is experiencing a creative renaissance comparable to the cultural, art and arts movements that began to flourish again in the 19th to early 20th century city of Zagreb.

A series of cultural events, including an exhibition on the city's old cinemas, will be held at a disused military hospital on nearby Vlaška Street, while Ratkajev passage will be transformed into an open air design market.

A quick walk through the Croatian Design Superstore in the neighbourhood, in a building previously selling automotive parts during the languid communist decades, and opened in 2015 by a small group of Zagreb designers it promotes independent Croatian designers and local creative talents. A hybrid of a design exhibition, cafe, and a shop - including items of fashion, gastronomy, kitchen & tableware, decoration, jewelry, lighting, furniture, gastro goods, books and much more with regularly updated new items, and a hip place to bring home a creative one of a kind piece that's 100% made locally instead of imported like many other stores. ("Made in China, Taiwan, India." etc). Besides a growing online and offline index of the most recent trends on the Croatian design scene, it's also a great starting point for presenting products designed and made in Croatia to the international market and especially for visitors to purchase an original item not available anywhere else. A great option for unique out of the ordinary souvenirs too. Video from

Literary and cultural event

Booksa will be staging a series of outdoor literary and cultural events in the small park just opposite its doors, including a book fair featuring small publishers, talks with prominent writers, a creative writing workshop and concerts.

A regular feature is the 'Hacking Ikea' competition held in collaboration with Ikea Croatia where participants take Ikea products and transform them into new objects and artistic creations.

Now in its third year, this four-day-long celebration has forged the identity of the Croatian capital's most dynamic and creative neighbourhood. Martićeva has become Zagreb's Design District. The new name is here to stay.

Writer: Isabel Putinja

Follow Isabel @IsabelsWindow

Design District Zagreb festival, from 14 to 17 June 2018:

 ...& Featuring Croatian Historical Regional Architecture A New "Designer Outlet Croatia" Officially Opened In Zagreb

I don't particularly care about major clothing labels or fashion stores opening up wherever either, and I'm not promoting any particular clothing brand or label, however this one I found interesting too (again this is NOT a tourism post, I don't do tourism posts). This is about a new Designer Outlet Croatia that was officially opened just the other day near the Zagreb Ikea, and this is another cool concept I like, something different from just another large roofed shopping mall again.

It's sort of like a new mini-town in Zagreb that almost feels like a mini-vacation in a way, it's like you've gone shopping to the Croatian coast somewhere in the Dalmatia region, like in the old town quarters of Zadar, Dubrovnik or Split or something like that, but you're really just on the other side of town, now that's an interesting and cool concept, sort of like making a mini-Los Angeles/California or Florida area shopping experience in New Jersey or Cleveland etc. And it also includes house architecture from other Croatian areas and from the old sections of Zagreb, this is the first Croatia themed designer outlet complex in Croatia and also the first of its kind in Central Europe. Heck even if you don't buy anything that day it still seems like a cool place to hang out and go window shopping, grab a bite to eat or drink etc.

Preview of the future now completed project from

I also like the fact that they didn't just try to copy another place or country, like making it themed as a mini-Paris, Munich, Rome, Barcelona, Mogadishu, Brooklyn or whatever other location, because it's instead themed around other parts of the country. (only Chinatowns can usually get away with that these days, because they're Chinese already anyway and so they're not just copying China or changing names pretending to be Chinese). There's also a children's playground and outdoor market as part of the outdoor shopping complex, (and of course one of the largest Ikea stores in all of Europe is basically just across the street in case you need a Hären or Hasselmus or Swedish meatballs and Lingonberry jam).

This is the 2nd such similar outdoor outlet shopping complex after the Roses Design Outlet Začretje was opened at Sveti Križ Začretje north of Zagreb in 2008, where major brand names also go for up to 70% off retail prices, but the more the merrier if it means less expensive brand name clothing. And besides, if anything it's at least much better (and fashionable too probably) than opening a mosque, Mormon tabernacle, Kingdom Hall or one of those fancy-shmancy televangelist broadcast centers or glitzy supermax prisons, which are probably about as wanted by the neighbourhood as an outbreak of leprosy, I think so anyway and I always tell it like it is, (that's right goshdammit, everyone should have the right to look, feel and dress like a celeb). And I totally support paying up to 70% less for a pair of jeans, shirt or shoes throughout the whole year and that's a fact. The below article pretty well explains everything...

Article text/images:

The largest designer outlet complex in Croatia – Designer Outlet Croatia – will open on 21 June 2018.

Located next to one of the largest IKEA stores in Europe in Rugvica, Zagreb, the Designer Outlet Croatia has revealed which brands which will be available at the outlet.

For sports lovers, you will be able to find gear from adidas, Asics, Converse, Champion, Nike, New Balance, Reebok, Under Armour, Fred Perry, Speedo, Converse, Umbro and more. Fashion brands like Joop!, Armani, Hugo Boss, Antony Morato, Guess, Wrangler, Tod’s, Hippy Garden, Calvin Klein, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Ugg, Speedo, Tosca Blu, Dsquared, Good Bags, Ipanema, Karl Lagerfeld, Levis, Croata, Ellesse, Lee, Gant, Tommy Hilfiger, Timberland, Ralph Lauren and Xenia Design, over 100 brand stores as well as other pop-up stores, and places to eat. (*editor's note - no need to worry, of course there will be a few Tisak stores also, you're in Croatia now so naturally, and more about the interesting story behind the Croata store here).

Designer Outlet Croatia, which spreads over 15,000 m2, is designed into different Croatian regions, including stone-built stores in line with traditional Dalmatian region architecture.

Visitors can find a replica of Dubrovnik’s city tower, experience walking through Dalmatian streets or even the atmosphere of the old town of Zagreb.

More than 100 fashion, shoes and sports brands will be available to shoppers from 30 – 70% off regular retail prices throughout the year. Other specials on opening day will be revealed on the Designer Outlet Croatia website. On opening day the center will be open until midnight.

The early images of the future Designer Outlet Croatia that is up and running now. Because of its location in Central Europe probably many local tourists can now get a taste of the Croatian coast even if its not on their schedule. (the annual top 10 visitors to Croatia include Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia). Perhaps even fool their friends when they get back "Check it out yo, I was strolling around shopping in Split and Dubrovnik and I've got pics to prove it".

A few bonus sneak peek views from opening day. Images: Tomislav Krišto / HANZA MEDIA and Facebook. (Reminder, I am not promoting any specific store or clothing brand label here, it's all about the interesting atmosphere and cool concept)

In the middle-right a replica of the Dubrovnik 14th century City Clock Bell Tower so you can feel all medieval times while buying jeans.

And here a lit up replica of the 13th century Lotrščak Tower located today in the medieval Grič Upper Town section of Zagreb, (aka Gradec/Gornji Grad, you know the one that fires the cannon everyday at exactly noon), again to make you feel all medieval while picking up a shirt or sipping on your coffee/beer. All the other stores are designed with exteriors according to centuries old historic house architecture from the various Croatian regions.

There was also one of those fancy confetti explosion things at the official grand opening ribbon-cutting, now that's classy and worth the trip for even just that.

The official grand opening coincided with good news at the World Cup, self-explanatory.

There was almost a stampede after the official opening, "Get out of the way we're going shopping to look like celebs!"

You gotta teach'em young to spot the sales, deals and free balloons.

Yep that's right, swimwear stores too (see recent swimwear and women's swimwear rights post)

There was even free entertainment for the future soon to be 30-70% off fashionable people, then off to the cafes and kavanas.

This is probably a good spot to sit and have a cigarette or quick snack before deciding which jeans or top to buy.

I updated later with this interesting pic, (and it's as far as I'm going with the World Cup topic because there's already more than enough sites and coverage about that from every angle). This below interesting pic is from user showing support for Croatia at the World Cup. And just who the hell is this guy anyway? you're probably wondering. Well, it turns out that it's Andrónico Luksic C. And who the hell is that? you're probably wondering again. Well, for those not in the know Andrónico Luksic Craig is a businessman and chairman of Quiñenco, a holding of the Luksic Group, one of Chile's largest conglomerates and he's the eldest son of Andrónico Luksic and Ena Craig. (In Croatian pronounced as "Luke-shich/Lukšić")

The Tweet reads in English: "Forgive me my sons! Great Croatia!" and it was picked up by South American media. Also just before the World Cup officially started he Tweeted..."With a split heart, because half of my five children are Argentinean ... but with a granddaughter recently born in Croatia that connects me to my grandfather's team ... let's go Croatia!"

You see, his father Andrónico Luksic Abaroa was a Chilean businessman with Croatian descent who founded the Luksic Group, and his father Polikarp Lukšić immigrated to Chile from the Croatian island of Brač in 1910, started from the bottom in the nitrate industry and then married a Bolivian woman Elena Abaroa, his son the founder Andrónico Luksic eventually became the richest person in Chile and fourth in Latin America, recently the Lukšić family were on the US Forbes list with a nifty $ 17.4 billion. (The Luksic Group has interests in the mining, financial, industrial, and beverages sectors and major holdings include Banco de Chile (Bank of Chile), the brewery/beverages company Compañia de Cervecerias Unidas (CCU), cable maker Invexans, a shipping company (CSAV) and Antofagasta Plc, a UK-listed copper mining company. In Croatia, he was also involved in the tourism industry owning several resorts). He in turn married Ena Craig and they had two sons, Andrónico seen below and Guillermo. Today the Luksic Group's copper mining group is also one of the largest mining companies in the world.

Anyway, today his son (grandson of the senior Luksic Group founder Andrónico Luksic) is Davor Lukšić who owns and operates a bunch of high class hotels and resorts in Croatia from the Istra peninsula region all the way to Dubrovnik. (More about him and that topic at a previous chilean-croatian-luksic-family-ink-deal post, not shabby hotels at all actually with even good quality fresh olives in the martinis which is always the way I judge a hotel by, that's your hotel tip of the day...good fresh olives in martini=classy hotel). So basically the guy below is not just some shmuck in a Croatia soccer jersey like you maybe thought. (Also get this, at the age of fifty, without any prior mountaineering experience, Andrónico also managed to reach the summit of Mount Everest in May 2004 and soon after in 2005 he completed the "Seven Summits of the World" ie: reaching the summit of the highest peak on each of the seven continents of the world, definitely no Montgomery Burns sitting on his bags of nickels either, I think mountain climbing may very well be in Croatian genes). Like I said, interesting pic and Croatian related information to know that you probably won't read at the various soccer sites, (Heck maybe lots of people didn't even know that you can buy a Croatia soccer jersey in Chile, that's interesting to know too).

*(Interestingly again, today there are around 380,000-400,000 people in Chile with Croatian roots, which is even more than in Argentina believe it or not, which has around 250,000 Argentinians with Croatian descent, and just like in North America many Chilean-Croats also became very well known political figures, academics and scientists, media personalities, sportspeople and business people).

(A few days later after the next game he updated his Twitter again with..."Happy because Croatia qualified to the 1/8 finals!! A good way to celebrate the independence of the country, which was proclaimed on June 25th, 27 years ago. Croatia force!! My congratulations also to Argentina for what's been done today, Good x Latin America!!"). Image from






















Featured post

And The Croatian City To Be A European Capital of Culture In 2020 Will Be...(Drum Roll).....Rijeka

Yep, I know it's still 2 years away and I already covered this topic last year when it was announced, but I added a few extra imag...