Creative director and copywriter, after years of experience in marketing and advertising, he founded the small, but energetic Señor and joined the creative scene of the neighbourhood.
Vanja Blumenšajn: I was born in Zapruđe, and lived in Slavonski Brod. We from the city outskirts must be having an inferiority complex, so we have to go downtown. Some ten years ago I bought an apartment across the street from the high school in Križanićeva Street, I fell in love with the neighbourhood, and last year we also moved Señor’s offices to Višeslavova Street. The courtyard balcony of our office shares the courtyard with a music school. The sounds of trumpets and clarinets mix with the scents of elderberry and linden in the air. Most of all, I love to sit by the Džamija and enjoy the view over the fountain, down Rački Street, towards the Cathedral. I love that view. The neighbourhood is ‘one size fits all’ in many ways, to the full extent of the phrase, without even mentioning all the squares, markets, and parks. I love the political and the activist aspects of the neighbourhood: all the protests, prides, and similar gatherings in Zagreb start here. This libertarian-alternative momentum might have been crucial for the concentration of eccentricity as related to the establishment of the Ban Jelačić Square. Or it might have been the other way around, I’m not sure.
— Being on the edge according to the center fits Vanja both businesswise and creativewise, because it embodies the position which Señor holds on the scene.
V.B.: I liked it when the Design District organisers said: “We have to include you, even tough you’re on the edge”. On the edge is a position that I’ve always, not only geographically, liked — just far enough from the centre not to be mainstream, and peripheral enough to give you the liberty and the possibility of “new”. I don’t know how much the neighbourhood affected the development of Señor, I think that we’ve always somehow wanted to be “the edge”, the opposition that corrects and urges the centre to reassess and change itself. It allowed me, personally, to get rid of my car and to use the time I’ve been spending on driving to and from my job on something more useful. I’d like it if we built our neighbourhood through our work, and not just the other way round.
Zagreb lacks a vision of itself in the future, some provincially-thinking city fathers just can’t stop striving to make the city a poor-man’s Vienna or Budapest. Austro-Hungaria is gone, it’s about time that Zagreb finds its own shtick. The Ban Jelačić Square and downtown proper are interesting to tourists, but I would like to believe that our neighbourhood is turning into an alternative city centre, attracting not the uptight, wearing their false pearls, but suspicious types of all shapes and sizes. This began to happen even before this project, and I think that its trajectory was formally defined with the start of Design District. In other words, its appearance raised the concentration of interesting people, whose synergy will create that wanted neighbourhood / city spirit (as authentic as cosmopolitan, I hope). Local business owners feel this too, so they keep opening breakfast and brunch places, and soy-milk coffee and gluten-free croissant shops.