Collaborations Design Residency

Unfolding Kropa's nail production: between utility and cultural impact

Kropa, a small Slovenian town with a remarkable history of ironworking, will become a setting for a residency for two designers to explore the historical, cultural and socio-economic dimensions of blacksmithing and nail production.



May-Jun 2024 | Kropa, Slovenia | MAO & Center ROG
Designers: Flora Lechner & Žan Kobal

A closer look at blacksmithing, which is often perceived as a male-dominated craft due to the way it’s represented in popular media, reveals a far-reaching significance that goes well beyond the manufacture of weapons. Exploring Kropa, a small Slovenian town with a remarkable history of ironworking, sheds light on the central role of nail production in shaping the economy, social structures, and the overall culture of the area.

Not long ago, the nail held our world together, permeating much of human history and making it a highly culturally charged artefact. This simple, ubiquitous artefact subverts the male-driven narrative of blacksmithing, with men and women producing nails side by side, and reveals humanity’s technological processes and development. From the gruelling manual labour of the Roman ‘fabricas’ to the slitting mills of 17th-century Britain that facilitated mass production, and their over-articulation in the work of Otto Wagner and his pioneering of a new modern aesthetic, nails prove to be more than mere fasteners. Instead, they embody a rich history and a compelling account of craftsmanship. They serve as a link between various related crafts and inspire research into their larger, diverse significance – one that connects Kropa to a wider cultural context.

Flora Lechner (Vienna, 1994) is a designer based in the Netherlands. In her work she takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining design, moving images, and sculpture. She likes to see her works conceived as small stages or potential arenas for action, playing with the idea of activation and ghostly stagnancy. She graduated in 2018 from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and in 2020 with a Masters at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Since then she has worked as an independent designer on various projects and takes part in exhibitions around Europe.

Žan Kobal (Maribor, 1993) is a designer, researcher, and writer based in Ljubljana. After graduating Cum Laude in Industrial Design from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Ljubljana, he continued his studies at Design Academy Eindhoven, obtaining a Master’s degree Cum Laude in Contextual Design there. Approaching design as an investigative medium, his work often crosses the traditional boundaries of design by delving into film and installation to frame objects as narration devices, exploring and revealing the way materials, craft, and discourse co-create reality.

Žan Kobal, photo: Lucija Rosc

Flora Lechner, photo: Carolina Revertera