A3 - Balkan: False idols [MADE IN SLOVENIA] - Vol.07


I am finalizing this text stranded on a long exhausting train ride between Ljubljana and Berlin mostly thanks to my recently acquired fear of flying. Changing five postal addresses in the last two years and being adrift between various European countries it seems appropriate enough in the given circumstances to write it in English, even though it is not my mother tongue and disregarding the fact that I can only barely manage to form comprehensible paragraphs. With this in mind, I can take the liberty to put forward the assumption, that this feeling adrift and in-between, lacking the ability and even apparatus to articulate one`s own position, fits the profile of the generation presented on the following pages. 

The assignment they were responding to (to critically review and portray the “false Balkan idols”), comes through unsurprisingly as a series of obfuscated personal references ranging from politics to popular culture, loosely articulated and ambiguous opinions generally lacking any clear position other than representing something outside of the status quo. I hope the initiators will not take it too much to heart if I say that the results are far from the public criticism and accountability intended, that they put forward in the initial text describing the project. What the following pages present though (at least in my opinion) is a wordless declaration - but a declaration nevertheless - of independence. An independence that can only arise from a renewed communality that such projects as A3.Format and many others sprouting in the region recently have helped to establish - or at least within the closed enclave of a growing population of graphic designers. On first sight their agendas and output seem to be mostly useless and even incomprehensible (nevertheless often highly likable) to the general public but at the same time also useless for any kind of economic or ideological player to capitalize on the independent channels, outlets and networks they have been busy setting up.


However, they seem to be sure that they are not necessarily interested in “designing for the Country” (whichever that country might be), “visualizing business strategies”, “service and information design”, “creative industries”, “creative capitals” or whatever other transient linguistic inventions that mostly non-designers use to describe their ideas of regaining and reaffirming design`s social function and worthiness. What really seems to be at stake here is a renewed interest in community, participation and collaboration. It is by all standards not a very loud or clearly political agenda but political nevertheless and the bonds between this amorphous stranded bunch are stronger than the divisions and the lack of terms or discourse available to describe them. Timely enough, the title of a recent design conference in Amsterdam, “I don’t know where I’m going but I want to be THERE” rings true.

Žiga Testen



ZEK Crew - Vir pri Domžalah


The generic avatar for all users of Facebook, the online social network launched in 2004. In early 2011,
the number of active users exceeded 600 million.

Nejaaka - Ljubljana

The Slovenian Coat-of-Arms (designed in 1991)
Marko Pogačnik conceived the Slovenian coat-of-arms as a cosmogram, an energy shield.
It features Triglav, the highest Slovenian summit (2,864 m) under three six-pointed stars that
once adorned the 
coat-of-arms of the counts of Celje. The two undulating lines under the
stylized Triglav present the sea 
and the rivers.

Katja Kastelic - Kranj


The Slovenian folk costume was designed during the Spring of Nations and based on an older regional
garment originally worn in the vicinity of Bled. In general terms, the folk costume is “a rustic festive
garment worn at the turn of the century by the nationally conscious Slovenians on festive occasions”.
Angelos Baš (1993): Enciklopedija Slovenije. Volume 7, Ljubljana, p. 305.)

Nenad Cizl - Maribor

The popular Slovenian spread was named after the young-adult fiction character, the courageous
shepherd Kekec. The tale was written by Josip Vandot.

Saša Štucin - Ljubljana

Martin Strel (born in 1954)
The ultra-marathon swimmer holds successive Guinness World Records for swimming the entire
lengths of various rivers. His greatest achievements include the Danube, the Mississippi River,
the Yangtze, the Vltava, and the Amazon.

Andraž Sedmak - Koper

The iconic Yugoslav car from the Zastava factory in Kragujevac designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro on the
basis of the Fiat 127 chassis. The prototype was manufactured manually in 1977 as
a present to the erstwhile Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito.

Natan Esku - Ljubljana

Zoran Janković (born in 1953)
The mayor of Ljubljana was elected with 62.99%. He took office in November 2006 and was re-elected
in October 2010 with 64.79%.

Kaja Kisilak - Šempeter pri Gorici & Janez Plešnar - Vipava

The national monster assembled from a kerchief, the bellows of an accordion, and voluptuous bosoms.

ZEK Crew - Vir pri Domžalah


Zmago Jelinčič ¹(born in 1948) The founder and the president of the Slovenian National Party,
established in 1991. A numismatist and arms collector.
Black Panther ²The heraldic symbol from the historical Carinthia, the
East-Alpine Slavic tribal duchy from the 7th century. Members of Slovenian nationalist
groups adopted the symbol after 1991.

Lukatarina (Katarina Mrvar, Luka Mancini) - Ljubljana

Bag Foot, the mascot of the Bag-on-Bag project symbolizes excessive consumerism and its impact

on the environment.

Robi Srebrnič - Medana

Damjan Murko (born in 1985, also known as the Styrian Nightingale)
In his ten-year carrier, this pop singer and celebrity recorded the following albums:
Fly, O, Swallow (Poleti lastovka, 2001), Lucky to be a Man (Srečen, ker sem moški, 2005)
and The One and Only (Eden in edini, 2007).

ZEK Crew - Vir pri Domžalah

The character from the popular animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983),
launched to promote Mattel’s toy line. The “real” refers to the unlicensed version of the toy
available in former Yugoslavia.

David Krančan - Kranj

The Slovenian version of the Russian fictional Ded Moroz,
who delivers gifts to children on New Year’s Eve. In honor of
his kindness, Janez Bitenc (1925–2005), the Slovenian pioneer
in children’s music, wrote the popular song Grey Fur Hat,
White Beard (Siva kučma, bela brada).

Luka Umek - Celje

EURO (symbol: €, code: EUR)
The official currency of seventeen Eurozone countries is also used Andorra, San Marino, the Vatican,
and Monaco, and, without a formal agreement, also in Montenegro and in Kosovo.

Gaja Mežnarić Osole - Ljubljana

Illustrations featured on the popular packaging of the Kekec spread and Alpine Milk now combined in
an idyllic landscape.

ZEK Crew - Vir pri Domžalah

An online service providing high-resolution visual material to its users at a low cost (photographs,
vector graphics, video footage and audio recordings). The company was established in 2000 by
Bruce Livingstone; originally, iStockphoto was a free stock imagery website.es.

Matej Kocjan Koco - Povir

Football players attain pop-icon and sex-symbol statuses.

Kitsch-Nitsch - Kranj


Anja Rupel (born in 1966)
The singer of the pop group Videosex, which recorded four albums between 1984 and 1994. Her solo
debut album in 1994, Open Your Eyes (Odpri oči), was followed by five studio albums.

Tanja Semion - Ljubljana

Fredi Miler (born in 1967)
The Slovenian miner and pop singer gained fame in 2004 with a viral video for the song You’ve Always
Dreamt of Him (Vedno si sanjala njega). As an object of derision, he received wide media attention.
He has recorded four studio albums.

Matej Lavrenčič - Ljubljana

Sunita Williams (born in 1965)
NASA’s astronaut of Indian and Slovenian origin holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by
a woman at 195 days. She has been to outer space and Slovenia.

Saša Štucin - Ljubljana & David Krančan - Kranj

Danijel Šmid (born in 1968)
An astrologist and TV host with a fortune telling show Danny’s Stars that has entered its 21st season
and was uninterruptedly broadcast since 1992.

Nina Vrhovec - Ljubljana

Zoran Janković (born in 1953)
From 1997 to 2006, he was the president of the Mercator management board. The slogan “collecting
points” refers to a Mercator-lead campaign aimed at increasing sales. In 2005, he was removed from
his position by the representatives of the largest-share owners only to win the 2006 mayoral elections.

Lukatarina - Ljubljana

In terms of Slovenian superstition, an encounter with a black cat is considered ill fortune, the cat being
a sign of bad luck.

ZEK Crew - Vir pri Domžalah

An eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, pervasive in the fashion

Matej de Cecco - Ljubljana

The robotisation of musical creation through shows like Britain’s Got Talent and American Idol.

Matija Kocbek - Maribor

Includes the mandatory diatonic button accordion or melodeon and the folk costume.

Urh Sobočan - Ljubljana

The protagonist of a tale written in 1858 by Fran Levstik is a salt smuggler who rescues Emperor John
from the brutal Brdaus.

ZEK Crew - Vir pri Domžalah

This 1980s Slovenian cartoon character used his brush to paint his world on an empty background

Saša Kerkoš - Ljubljana

The mascot of the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in 1984 was designed by Slovenian designer
and illustrator Jože Trobec.

Mina Fina - Ljubljana

The heroine of the children’s book and play by Svetlana Makarovič.

loke42 - Maribor

The proverbial Slovenian affection towards the Roma community.

ZEK Crew - Vir pri Domžalah

Not all idols and icons depicted are of Slovenian origin. The selection includes personalities from former
Yugoslavia and international names that influenced the Slovenian environment.

Creative director: Filip Bojović

Guest art directors: ZEK Crew and David Krančan

Editors: Marko Rakić and Filip Bojović

A3.Format group: Filip Bojović, Igor Zarol, Marko Rakić, Sanja Stanković and Vladimir Radinović

Design and layout by: ZEK Crew and David Krančan

Project realization by: A3.Format group, ZEK Crew and David Krančan

Translation: Maida Alilović

36 Pages, Softcover, 29,7 x 42 cm, 4 Color Offset, First Edition, 1000 Copies

Ljubljana-Berlin-Novi Sad-Belgrade, July 2011.

This project is supported by: Cultural center Dom omladine Belgrade with funds provided by The secretariat for culture of the City of Belgrade