The 1980s

Complicated internal and external economic conditions increased the pressure on the application of design in production, but even a growing number of measures failed to assert design as being an integral part of production processes. The engineering works of ZŤS Martin, ZVL Považská Bystrica and PPS Detva belonged among the few who cared about a higher level of design in the interest of their export ambitions. The periodical national shows of utility art and industrial creative art managed to hold their importance, even though the joint presentation of industrial designs and free utility art was repeatedly a subject of discussion. Of course, design was also presented at exhibitions. The generation of designers who began to show in the 1980s the implementation of their designs in industrial production included Tadeusz Blonski, Peter Humaj, Ferdinand Chrenka, Ladislav Kubo, Miloslav Suchar, Marek Zitnan and others. The co-operation of Jozef Kamas and Bohus Mudroncik with Tesla Orava and the designs for utility glass by Jozef Kolembus for United Glassworks at Lednické Rovne also deserve to be mentioned, as well as the production of Eva Hricoviniova and Stanislav Stankoci in the area of graphic design.
After discussions in the 1950s, functionalism was as good as the official doctrine in Slovak design, even though the reality of production mainly reflected technological and material restrictions in production processes; therefore ‘engineering’ design was rather a virtue of necessity than a result of the systematic application of functionalism. Due to the critique of functionalism in the 1980s, alternative approaches to utility production started to be applied in Slovakia that could be designated as post-modern. The authentic spawn of postmodernism paradoxically ‘helped’ industry to lag behind. As industry was not very keen on the services of designers, many of them started to fulfil themselves in production reminiscent of art and craft work rather than design in the sense established by modernism. In 1985 an ambitious group of young designers, mainly graduates of architecture at VŠVU who documented the development of impulses from Avant Garde Italian design (Jana Antalova, Jozef Gasparik, Ivan Kepko, Dana Musecova, Imrich Vasko, Dusan Vostenak and Miroslav Zikmund), presented interior design at the Bratislava exhibition ‘From the Studio of the Young’. The production of Karol Weisslechner and Julia Kunovska was similarly orientated. At the end of the 1980s Frantisek Burian achieved (also internationally) the authentic representation of ‘conceptual design’, reflecting the fact that media presentation of designers’ products is more important than their physical existence.