Draga&Aurel: the formula of balance

In life and work, they compensate for each other, as in their two fields of endeavor, art and design. They are Draga Obradovic and Aurel K. Basedow

Draga&Aurel - Draga Obradovic & Aurel K. Basedow - Photo © Piero Gemelli
Draga&Aurel - Draga Obradovic & Aurel K. Basedow - Photo © Piero Gemelli

THEIR MODUS OPERANDI IS A MATTER OF BEING COMPLEMENTARY, ALSO IN PRIVATE LIFE. DRAGA OBRADOVIC AND AUREL K. BASEDOW, ALIAS DRAGA&AUREL, ARE A WELL KNOWN COUPLE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DESIGN SCENE. THEY ARE REDEFINING THE ART-DESIGN CONCEPT, DRAWING ON AND MIXING TWO CREATIVE WORLDS. THE RESULT IS HARMONY, A MEETING OF THE SPIRITS AND OF ONLY APPARENTLY OPPOSITE WORLDS, WITH A SINGLE AIM: EMOTIONAL BEAUTY. DRAGA OBRADOVIC TELLS US ABOUT THEIR PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE.

Thea by Baxter – Design Draga&Aurel

You call yourselves a multidisciplinary studio: what are the different approaches of your reality? Is there one main factor?
We began by reinventing vintage furnishings, dressing up chairs found at markets, with fabrics of our own design. Aurel began to use resin to reinvent objects and furnishings. This combination led to various collaborations; companies like Baxter and Anthropologie pushed us to new horizons, residential and hospitality projects that have allowed us to express our creativity in interior design. After 10 years we created the capsule collection “Transparency Matters,” embodying our experience as designers and artists, in a synthesis of spirits: a perfect blend of material, art, design and crafts.

Marilyn by Baxter – Design Draga&Aurel

How do your two personalities and professional attitudes compensate for each other?
He’s a visionary, I’m an adventurer. He’s a musician and a painter, I’m a stylist and a textile designer. He’s German, I’m Serbian. We both studied fine arts in Florence, and after various experiences in different fields our partnership began: a perfect combination of art and design, ranging from design to fashion, fabrics, woodworking, contemporary graphics. Complementary in life and work, we share a great passion for contemporary art, which leads to ongoing research and discussion.

Dimora delle Balze by Draga&Aurel

Dimora delle Balze by Draga&Aurel

What are the focal points in your personal research?
We like to be inspired by anything, from art to music, architecture to photography, literature to cinema, fashion to travel. During the process, it is important for us to discover “what lies behind,” the philosophy, the concept, to create pieces that are not just to use but can also influence and change culture and habits. Design is also a vehicle to make people think, and it has the power to create changes. Just consider Memphis or Radical Design.

Transparency Matters is the result of your latest research on materials: which areas did you explore? What were the inspirations and the aims?
The “Transparency Matters” collection, at the moment, represents the main result of our partnership: a perfect combination of art and design. To make it we took inspiration from the simplified volumes of minimalism, the retro-futuristic experimentation of Space Age design, and the amazing models of Optical Art. Working with colored resin, bronze, brass, molten glass and vintage furniture in a range of mineral tones, we have designed furnishings and lighting by interpreting the power of transparency to illumine, transform and distort. This collection is the symbol of our evolution as designers and artists, an opportunity to express our joy and to think outside the box after a decade of collaborations.

Transparency Matters by Draga&Aurel – Photo © Riccardo Gasperoni

What are the areas on which you want to concentrate today? Or is there a field you have never explored, but would like to?
Working on the “Transparency Matters” collection and the installations for Nomad Circle, we have discovered a new passion: to create site-specific projects. They make it possible to tell a story and to create a strong connection between objects and their host contexts. It would be exciting to continue with this type of projects, also developing them in new settings like exhibitions, hotels and galleries.

Your projects and products convey a sense of how design can be contaminated by art. What is your take on this relationship? And what are its results?
The design has to set rules and defy them, while the artist has to find art where it has not previously been sought, to make people look at things in a new way. We believe this is the biggest difference, but in the end for us the root is the same: the search for the beauty of emotion and the relationship with one’s own time.

What point has design reached in its history, in your view?
We have a marvelous heritage. So much has already been done, but it seems as if the world is asking us to rethink our attitudes, to formulate a new cultural revolution. The theme is complex and profound, and it is not easy to give an immediate answer; but in this moment such reflections are obligatory. If there’s a will, we will find the right path.

Nomad Circle – Venice Ormeggi by Draga&Aurel – Photo © Fillippo Bamberghi