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Interview with Olina Francova and Jitka Arazimova

Home > Designer Interviews > Olina Francova and Jitka Arazimova

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Olina Francova and Jitka Arazimova (OFAJA) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Olina Francova and Jitka Arazimova by clicking here.

Interview with Olina Francova and Jitka Arazimova at Thursday 9th of May 2019

FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
OFAJA: We have been friends since we’ve studied at the Secondary Arts School. Coincidentally, we met six years ago and joined forces under a new brand, Franco Arazzi, to design and sew handmade leather handbags - multibags. We both are artists for all our lives, Olina as a iron sculptor and Jitka as a graphic artist. So there was just a small step from art to the applied design.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
OFAJA: The common credo of our studio is that good design enriches life and connects people who share the same sentiment. Creating design in moments when majority of creators say that nothing new can be done completely enchanted us. Exploring the design possibilities of objects that were created to carry things has brought up the issue of multi-functionality as well as creations for the physically challenged. In a special nonprofit project we created bags, handbags and backpacks especially for individuals with various types of physical disabilities according to their needs. Our latest nonprofit project focuses on the design of ‘bare head’ hats for women after chemotherapy.

FS: What is "design" for you?
OFAJA: Our multifunctional handbagsare not subject to any fashion dictates – they are as free as their owners.They do not need to draw attention to the social status or the amount of the credit card. On the contrary, they should be an original complement and a functional subject for a self-confident "wearer" who wants to be different and is not afraid to step out of the crowd.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
OFAJA: We enjoy the process of creation itself. It is a social extension and design therapy for us. We design andcreate something that is essentially ours, based on our experience and needs. We test each modelpersonally and investigate how to improve it, what to add, what to get rid of...We are surprised how the meetings with our customers enriche us. These meetings are both inspirational and often end up in a true friendship. Here we connect our need for creating, designing and communicating with the social aspect of knowing new people. We are interested in their opinion, needs and life experiences.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
OFAJA: We don't want to enlight some single design. We believe that the best aspect of our design studio is the support and help in everyday life to those, who truly deserves the good design but due to their physical dissability they commonly can't reach it.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
OFAJA: Our first design was a multifunctional handbag-backpack Cuscino which was inspired by a pillow.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
OFAJA: Our designs are made from bovine leather - a traditional material that is used for years and ages with beauty. It can be recycled easily when worn out. We used a thick boat rope for the handle as it enables simple knots tying and re-tying.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
OFAJA: We extremely enjoy the inventing of new models anywhere anytime - e.g. before felling asleep or waking up, but also during travelling or visiting galleries. We embrace any inspiration but we try to avoid following now-away fashion trends.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
OFAJA: The most important aspects for us are the multifunctionality and minimalistic design.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
OFAJA: Freedom and happiness.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
OFAJA: The uplifting moment is when our customer call us with a new method how to wear our multibag which we didn't even predict. We are surprised how the meetings with our customers enriche us. These meetings are inspirational and often end up in a true friendship. Here we connect our need for creating, designing and communicating with the social aspect of knowing new people. We are interested in their opinion, needs and life experiences.

FS: What makes a design successful?
OFAJA: Enthusiastic customers and recognition from the design experts and specialists.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
OFAJA: In general - the creativity and functionality.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
OFAJA: Original design (to avoid plagiarism) and rules of Fair-trade - no child or underpaid work in the poor countries or wasting of matherials. We make sure that our materials (bovine leather) is from food farm animals where leather is a secondary raw material and not from animals dedicated to kill for their fur. The starting point for us has been a maximum of natural material.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
OFAJA: Freedom of creation, original design and hopefully slow fashion.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
OFAJA: The most important exhibition this year was during the Internation Fashion Weeks in Amsterdam 2019 where we had a great success. With this collection we participate at Design Days Reichenberg 2018 and Prague Design Week 2019, and we really enjoy our runway show in the beautiful interior of the Lucerna Hall in Prague (all events in Czech Republic).

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
OFAJA: We don't know.. As the famous Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal said: "It is in me as in the goat."

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
OFAJA: Our style is based on creativity and multifunctionality.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
OFAJA: We live in Prague, the main city of the Czech Republic, which is well known for its unique architecture includes gothic and baroque. Our main benefit is the great culture which suround us, yet the con is the fact that as a small country we are facing the preference of friendship than the quality of the design. But maybe that is not challenge just a small countries but any closed society.

FS: How do you work with companies?
OFAJA: We don't work with them at all.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
OFAJA: The basic is to choose someone handfull and creative. But we hardly can suggest anyone to the big companies.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
OFAJA: At first there was nothing, just an idea. At the end we hold the finished handbag and we look forward to its journey in life. We play with animosity of used materials, we experiment with shapes and forms - not to mention the magical realm of colors, light and darkness. We take it all in, we shuffle it in our minds and initially we just shamelessly entrust a sheet of paper long before we dare to grab a incisor and to irreversibly define the future shape in the material. Then there’s only the pleasure of making. We have respect for natural materials and we also want to give them a new life. We feel how they speak to us and we want to share this experience with people who like it.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
OFAJA: At our atelier, our most favorite ones are the handmade iron coffe table, old medical cabinets around the walls, old boat lamp as a chandelier, amazing glass-stone drinking glasses from Czech designer Alena Matejka etc.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
OFAJA: We enjoy every creative day in our lives.. And due to the lenght of our life we can really appreciate it :-)

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
OFAJA: Don't take yourself too seriously - follow your creativity and share your happiness, we live only once.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
OFAJA: It doesn't matter what do you for living - it should be joyfull, fulfilling, creative and careful to your surrounding.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
OFAJA: Creative original idea - and to try your every design on yourself!

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
OFAJA: Creativity, empathy and modesty - because those are the rarest skills in the world.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
OFAJA: Hands, paper with pencil, scissors, ...

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
OFAJA: All our time is dedicated to our designs - and we really enjoy it!

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
OFAJA: That depends - sometimes it takes dozens of minutes, sometime months :-)

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
OFAJA: "How did you came up with such an idea?"

FS: What was your most important job experience?
OFAJA: Meetings with our customers enriche us, they are inspirational and often end up in a true friendship.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
OFAJA: They are self-confident individuals with original thinking, looking for a playful, extravagant fashion accessory.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
OFAJA: We prefer any innovative design around us.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
OFAJA: Nowadays, we celebrate the Bronze A'Design Award which is very valuable for us and think about our future challenges ;-)

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
OFAJA: We both design and work together as a team. This cooperation is very inspirational and interesting.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
OFAJA: We always have something in-progress :-). That is what we love the most about our work.

FS: How can people contact you?
OFAJA: olina.franco@seznam.cz

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
OFAJA: We would like to add that a person, who can focus on a creative work of her/his own, is the most blessed person in the world.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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