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ANA ŽAJA PETRAK: I am inspired by the neighbourhood environment; we change and grow at the same time

 

“There are many empty and neglected city spaces that can be converted into interesting places. There is a neighbourhood dedicated to art and creativity in every European capital. I’m glad that my own Zagreb neighbourhood is developing in that direction.”

Ana Žaja Petrak is an excellent and prolific illustrator and visual communications designer. She graduated from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Architecture School of Design, and after many years of working in the field of design in the narrow sense, a while ago she decided to dedicate herself primarily to drawing and illustration, which was her first love. She lives near Martićeva, where her studio is also located. In her studio she creates various illustrations for a number of mostly foreign clients. She mostly works for culinary and gastronomy magazines, so it could be said that Ana Žaja Petrak has gained prominence as one of the leading national illustrators in the field. Her relaxed, collagelike graphical style full of harmonious colouring and varied textures seems to reflect the casual way of life in her neighbourhood. We had a talk with Ana in order to find out what kind of a relationship she has with the neighbourhood she lives in, how it has influenced her and how she sees its future.

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Ana Žaja Petrak: I grew up in this neighbourhood and then, due to a combination of circumstances, ten years ago I moved just a tiny bit away, to the centre of the city. After a decade, I returned to my old neighbourhood. It was a conscious choice; my husband and I concluded that no other neighbourhood was better suited for our needs and way of life. The neighbourhood is very quiet and charming, only 15 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the very centre of the city. Just a few small streets are home to so many diverse amenities; it is like a small town within the city.

The neighbourhood and all of its advantages had a strong influence on me while I was growing up. Everything was at my fingertips: schools, cinemas, theatres, exhibitions, clubs… The vicinity and availability of all those amenities have undoubtedly influenced my later career choices. The street I currently live in with my family is very calm and quiet. It is a comfort I especially appreciate after living above noisy bars for ten years. Literally everything is at our fingertips, we hardly ever use the car. I find it interesting how every environment has its own special energy that influences the people living in it. The atmosphere here is calm and relaxed, with no fuss or noise. There are always a lot of people riding bicycles and walking their dogs. We also got a dog when we moved here. The neighbourhood is nice, loveable and discreet. In short, it’s nice to live here.

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As far as my daily rituals go, i like having coffee in Blok Bar, eating cakes in Mak Na Konac cake shop, having lunch in Zlatna Školjka… I like shopping and talking to the salesladies in Garden and Pinklec delicatessen. I am happy to see that there is an increasing number of small shops selling quality and organic food in the neighbourhood. I buy my cosmetics in Kantarion, where they sell eco cosmetic products by small Croatian manufacturers. I like the atmosphere in Booksa, I’m always happy about their events and the large number of young people who hang out there. Croatian Design Superstore constantly offers numerous interesting events in the sphere of Croatian design, and it has contributed a new and valuable component to the neighbourhood. Two small second-hand bookshops have also opened here recently, and I enjoy studying the titles of the books they offer.

Generally, there should be many more art, culture, design and gastronomy related places springing around here. Like galleries, art stores, bookshops, relaxed and varied little restaurants. There are many empty and neglected city spaces that can be converted into interesting places. Every European capital has a neighbourhood like that; I’m glad that my own Zagreb neighbourhood is developing in that direction. I am inspired and enriched by this environment; we change and grow at the same time.

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POVEZANO

Atelier Ostrman

One of the more interesting locations in Lopašićeva Street is the art studio of the painter Tomislav Ostrman, Atelier Ostrman, where he exhibits and sells his own pieces and those of his colleagues and friends, alongside organizing small social events in this attractive workshop.

Garderoba Concept Store

With the opening of Ana Ivančić’s Garderoba, Zagreb got its first conceptual showroom for Scandinavian fashion. Garderoba is a carefully thought-out project, a room whose elements have all been designed by brilliant Croatian designers and architects, thus also adding a Croatian brand to the offer.

Slatka priča

The Slatka Priča pastry shop was started in 2013, and is currently in three places – Kranjčevićeva Street, Ivana Brlić Mažuranić Street in Zagreb’s Malešnica neighborhood, and, of course, Martićeva Street (since 2016), more precisely at the busy corner of Martićeva and Smičiklasova.

Mikrofon

Mikrofon is a music school started in 2009, located in the charming inner courtyard of 19 Martićeva Street. Its predecessor was the Vocal Studio Maraton vocal workshop from Rijeka, and the school has since then grown from offering single singing lessons to group singing and lessons for children, as well as instrumental music lessons.

Medveščak Library

The Medveščak Library, our neighborhood’s branch of Zagreb City Libraries, encompasses three departments – adult, children’s and youth (also known as “Idi pa Vidi”, or “Come and See”). Besides normal library duties, the library also engages in setting up various exhibitions in its windows, and workshops in the rooms of the youth and children’s departments.