Belgrade Design Week Festival 2013

We are often asked what it is like to produce BDW in Serbia. I presume some of our esteemed colleagues around the world may offer assistance with an answer: the owners of the Miss World license in Afghanistan and perhaps the Ferrari dealer in Ethiopia. Eventually we might get advice from the kind patisseur who makes baklavas in Salzburg, or his even more enthusiastic peer who makes Mozart-Kugel’s in Debar. Which is a great cue to bring us to BDW’s keywords today: enthusiasm, knowledge, intelligence, beauty, quality, taste and scent… And a wrong place. More about which later.

I think that the real secret of BDW, as perhaps with all truly great personal experiences in the world, is that it enlarges us! You go in to watch, listen, learn and enjoy, which of course you do, but you come out with a whole new set of parameters with which you measure life. It really is that good!!! It may well be that there are bits of BDW that you think may be improved, or bits that you don’t like, but for my money, and I have visited an awful lot of conferences and design weeks, BDW encapsulates THE performance of a conference, THE idea of a conference, better than any other… if you can transform a conference experience into high art, then it becomes something completely life enhancing.

In a country and a city where creative industries aren’t recognized even as mere statistics, and even less so any regulated support- or financing mechanism is offered, we still managed to organize another important business and educational festival, the eight one in row without hiatus, with BDW’s now famous international conference as main segment. Because of exactly the aforementioned reasons. Because KNOWLEDGE is the key tool for survival of our beloved country, and the whole region. And even if our own city of Belgrade, who’s name we carry proudly and lovingly, does not support BDW, there are always some nice people who care to provide some funding and save the whole deal last minute, such as the kind Ministry of Finances, as well as over one hundred esteemed partners this year, to whom all we wish to extend a huge THANK YOU.

The theme of the conference was “INNOVATION SQUARED“. BDW is namely trying to find a common denominator of global and local, economic and cultural developments, and to integrate them into one key theme for the whole festival through which we chose lecturers and exhibitors. Visitors had the opportunity to be informed about the latest global trends in the entire scope of the creative industries, to learn how to adapt to fast changes in the world economy through presentations of leading global companies, brands and creatives.

Innovation on our part also included the new location of the festival – the Museum of Contemporary Art. Visitors got the unique opportunity to peek into the space of Belgrade’s almost forgotten cultural icon of global importance, at Ušće, which has been closed for the last six years. By opening its doors for the five days of exhibitions and the conference in June, BDW feels incredibly honored. This is precisely the reason why we have prepared, as homage to the Museum, around ten important international exhibitions, the almost same amount of workshops, with free entrance and the common denominator of INNOVATION. And the reason why we have invented, inspired by the iconic halls and staircases, a new form of networking for the creative community with business, media and politics in Serbia at the Museum: the first ever CREATIVE FORUM SERBIA powered by Samsung. And finally, to crown the whole festival and our hard work throughout the year, we were able to bring to our country one of the most prestigious global creative events, in collaboration with the Touristic Organization of Serbia, the famous EUROPEAN DESIGN AWARDS, whose award presentation ceremony was held in front of 500 delegates from all over the world, as a final act of BDW on Saturday evening at 21 h, in the Yugoslav Drama Theatre.

BDW is the only multidisciplinary EDUCATIONAL FESTIVAL of this magnitude in Serbia and the region, besides being non-profit, amidst a plenitude of entertainment content, at which representatives of the creative industry who generate real changes in the global economy today, explain how a competitive, modern economy is being developed. And not just any experts, but “THE GREATEST CREATIVE MINDS OF THE 21ST CENTURY,” who eagerly await Belgrade’s famed audience and those unique BDW vibrations, so very well known all around the world! That is why we have greeted you once again and invited you not to miss our eight conference named INNOVATION SQUARED, because probably never before has there been such a line up of great speakers in one single place!

Jovan Jelovac, founder and curator of BDW

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Belgrade Design Week is a one-off – a unique set-up that is free from the corporate atmosphere that so often pervades other such events. The energy, optimism and warmth of Jovan and his team flows through every event – lectures, workshops, meals & drinks alike!   I’ve never been good at sitting in a dark lecture hall for more than an hour or so at a time but found myself doing three lectures back to back at Belgrade – such was the quality of speakers. Timetabling was crazy at times but at BDW everybody seems happy to ‘go with the flow’ – and has an even better time for doing so. The City of Belgrade should be very proud of this gem!

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