Designer & maker Ana Kraš on not taking yourself too seriously
by Tobias van Schneider
Ana Kraš doesn’t like to overthink things. The Serbian designer, photographer and maker isn’t too concerned with how others receive her work. Yet it's been well received all the same.
Kraš’ lamp designs for Hay, her collaborations with fashion designer Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Danish brand Ganni, her photography and effortless style have earned her the title “It Girl” more than once. She models for fashion brands one day and then photographs Copenhagen Fashion Week the next.
But it’s not titles or recognition Kraš is after. She just wants to keep playing.
“It might sound strange, but my work always felt so personal to me,” says Kraš. “It always feels like it exists for me to play with it, not for others to see it.”
Kraš was born in Belgrade, where she graduated from the University of Applied Arts. Since then, she’s worked for herself as a furniture designer, model, photographer, set designer and artist, among other things. It’s not necessarily by intention – Kraš has said before that she wishes she’d had the opportunity to do internships – but rather that she’s followed her curiosity and ideas and they lead her here. It’s a strategy, or non-strategy, that has defined her career.
“I'm very responsible and maybe even too serious in some ways, but when it comes to curiosity and play, I'm somehow almost the same as when I was a kid,” Kraš says. “It's just how I am naturally. I'm not trying to maintain this approach to life.”
Her photography, much of which she shares in a stream-of-consciousness style on Instagram, often seem raw and unedited, shot from a bike or across a dinner table. The Bonbon lamps she designed and creates for Hay, while requiring hours of detailed handiwork, vary in color and pattern depending on what strikes her in the moment.
"Being concerned about people's opinion makes no sense because there will always be different and opposing opinions. So it becomes useless to even think about it."
Kraš says rather than trying to control her work, she simply follows her instinct. When she does get stuck, it’s because she can be indecisive. She may like dozens of variations of an idea, and can get lost in subtle details like color.
“Then I try to remind myself that there's no perfect choice ever, and that each choice is just a reflection of that moment and will lead to something that comes next,” Kraš explains. “I like to look at projects as a part of a bigger conversation that's an ongoing practice. So each project is sort of like a sentence. And it leads to the next sentence. And it builds up to a story. So not all sentences are so crucial, and there can be some average or even bad ones. But they can still build up a good story. That takes some pressure off.”
Kraš’ advice for relaxing and not overcomplicating your work? Pursue what comes naturally.
“I think confidence comes with a feeling that you're being natural, a feeling of being yourself. With my work I feel like one, it's a part of me. When I have to do things that don't feel natural about, I don't feel confident at all,” she says. “I think it's important to do things that are natural to you, and then you feel like you're playing on stable ground, in your yard.”