Graphic designer of Art & Tech Days also stands behind the station interior to Lomnický štít. On design with Maria Bujňáková

Born in Kežmarok, Mária chose the capital of eastern Slovakia for her work. In the last three years since she finished her master’s degree at the Technical University of Košice, Mária’s life could definitely not be described as boring. She is a product, graphic and interior designer and also an internal doctoral student at the Department of Design. Find out how she links the Scandinavian style to her work, the first steps to the future profession/hobby or her ideas on the inspiration for the Art & Tech Days festival or narrative design products, see the following article:


17 years old and wallpaper studio in Málaga

From her early childhood, Mária was led to the disciplines she is working on nowadays: her father who was a carpenter was often helped with sketches of her only 10-year-old brother with the kitchen design. Later, when it was necessary to opt for high school, Mária took a quick course to rank first on the list of admitted students for the programme of promotional visual art in Kežmarok. With the support of this school, as only 17 years old she managed to spend one month working in Málaga, Spain: “It was the first experience for me to go abroad and to use a foreign language. I worked intensively in the wallpaper studio where I learned to operate necessary software for simulating an interior with wallpaper or to process 2D or 3D objects for my designs. That helped me later in my job and I work with some of these software programmes to this day,” says Mária. In the footsteps of her brother, she continued her studies to eastern Slovakia Košice: Mária studied at the Department of Design led by prof. Ing. Tibor Uhrin, ArtD. with a focus on product design.

From Ryba Košice to IKEA mentoring

Mária admits that after completing her master’s degree, she started to devote herself more to graphics and was considering what to do next. Thanks to a friend, she learned about an internship through Creative Industry Košice in Ryba Košice. The company offered her a 3-month creative residence during which she designed a gift item – business card stand and jewellery piece at the same time. It was later sold at the Pohoda festival. In 2016, CIKE also mediated an internship through the Erasmus project for young entrepreneurs in Bohus, Sweden, focused on interior design. Under the supervision of a mentor from IKEA franchise brand, Mária became acquainted with the overall product manufacturing process and concentrated on a children’s facility designing Scandinavian animals, which you can also find today in Tabačka, Košice: “This internship was a very valuable experience. I have found many new technologies and news in Stockholm showrooms, which are not yet known in Slovakia. This helped me with the point of view and different approaches I use in my work every day.”

With Furnicoolture up to Lomničák

Mária does not work only alone. Together with her brother designer and his wife designer, the trio created their own design studio with a rather tangled nickname Furnicoolture (furniture cul(cool)ture). So far without a physical workplace and often on a remote basis, they design public and residential spaces, graphics, identity or products. Perhaps their greatest success is the interior design of the Skalnaté Pleso mountain cable car station on one of the most iconical peaks in Slovakia, Lomnický štít: “In this design, we were inspired directly by the Tatra mountains. We tried to stylize the rocks of the mountains into polygonal shapes. The timelessness of the design was mainly provided by the unique material from Portugal – Valchromat®. Among other things, we have created a historical timeline of the cable car and an interactive passenger wall. There is also a photo point with a beard depicted on Lomnický štít; it is known that Slovaks call it Dedo (Grandpa).”

Identity of Art & Tech Days multimedia festival for 4 years

It has been the fourth year that Mária has designed the complete identity of the 6-day November festival that connects art and technology on the grounds of Košice’s Kulturpark and creates space for personalities of science, IT, culture, design and art to get to know each other. From “matrix” font to the topic of artificial intelligence, she proved to be an innovative and graspable designer for the design of such challenging festival. The content theme of Art & Tech Days 2019 is language and communication as a universal, but a sometimes difficult tool for exchanging information: “I see language as a communication channel for information sharing, which I have also tried to express through graphics. I worked in a 3D program in which I constructed the pattern and text within the axonometric perspective. In the graphic design, I gave the technical style more dynamics and added characters from the Morse code falling through the created channels. This year’s colour will be bright neon,” explains Mária. You can buy your tickets for Art & Tech Days now and get to know the theme of language and communication from all angles. Find the tickets here.

A design that tells stories

In her doctoral studies at FUTU, Department of Innovation, Mária focuses on narrative design, the one that tells a story. In practice, it means that the product engages its user and forces him/her to understand what it is trying to say. Sometimes it can be an element of humour, but often it teaches a lesson. Mária likes to combine these together, and her diploma thesis, SEVEN, is a good example of the result. The collection refers to human vices and the seven deadly sins that one should realize and overcome nowadays, whether it is a vanity mirror with tiny thorns, which after a long time becomes uncomfortable to touch or a beggar’s stand that encourages to become generous. Similar is the board game Panelák, supported by the Fond na podporu umenia: “I am very observant and that is why I usually draw ideas from my life. I see ideas that can be realized in trivial things such as the game Panelák (apartment block). I have lived in my apartment all my life; I know it so much that I decided to describe its character and protagonists in a funny way. The same goes for Stairs Generation, which includes my memories and chatting with a friend on the prefabricated staircase in the 1990s.” Mária has won the award-winning author’s wallpaper design in the TA-PE-TY competition for two years in a row with her PI-HA motif (piroh&haluška – Slovak traditional food). You’ll find also children’s purely Slovak toys with the same theme on the Furnicoolture website. Mária also worked on the identity of Bicycle Garage in Košice, sale stools and front desks in Aupark Košice department store.

Paper deviation

Every designer must have a deviation for something. For example, Mária has been collecting papers since her childhood and she owns several of their sample books: “I love paper – its quality, colour and other characteristics, the possibility of folding or binding it. It helps me think of it as a material that can have another usage. For instance, Furnicoolture design of the lamp cover Mola has a paper shade.”

You can find all the products in which Mária Bujňáková has participated or created independently on the Furnicoolture website. Meet her in person and discuss all the details of the visual identity of the festival during the Art & Tech Conference on 11/21/2019.

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