Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Asja Dupanović
Ena Tadej is a long-time member of the creative team of the Zagreb based agency Brigada. Over the last five years, she has created solutions for numerous projects that stand out with her diversity. To mention just a few: Infinum, ecx.io and Odvjetnički ured, Bio&bio and Nord stores, Planetopija, Croatia osiguranje and Neostar branch offices, Umami restaurant and strategies of individual spaces. Odvjetnički Ured was even featured in the Designboom, the world’s leading portal for design and architecture, bio&bio sales spaces were exhibited at the Exhibition of Croatian Design, while the AlpStories sales spaces were written about by a number of international media in several languages. She mastered architecture and urbanism at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb, which she new she had to enrol in already at the end of elementary school.
MM: What attracted you to start working in the communications industry as an architect?
Ena Tadej: I actually came to Brigada quite accidentally. The former boss went to a maternity leave, so she organized a meeting for me with Brigada’s Creative Director Damjan Geber. I clearly remember the first visit to the office. Everyone was gathered around a single computer, at the desk I’m currently sitting at, and were watching a video related to the exhibition Smoking Culture: From Taboo to Taboo. I was fascinated by the people and the project, and I hoped that I would work with them. And now, five and a half years later, I’m still here and work with some of them. Working in the communications industry is a very creative and dynamic job. Projects change fast, they last shorter, and the final results are far more visible than, for example, in residential architecture.
MM: You are one of the key talents in Brigada’s creative team, and you’re already a promising leader in the industry. How does one achieve that at your age?
Ena Tadej: I think the most important thing is to love your job and do it with a passion. If there is interest and passion for the project, you’ll find a way to solve any challenge you face. Also, it will be easier to convey to the client that the solution you’ve made is the best for their space. And when you gain client’s trust, the project works as a partnership relationship, which makes it easier to find solutions for all challenges.
MM: Your projects were featured in a number of relevant professional media. How much does this mean to you?
Ena Tadej: It’s always a pleasure when others write about your projects, especially when they are international professional media. It’s an additional acknowledgment that what you worked hard for is truly noticed and has value. However, I have to admit I’m still surprised when a project I worked on pops out in Google searches when I search for references, materials and similar.
MM: Is there a role model you particularly admire in the Croatian, regional or world architecture?
Ena Tadej: I don’t find my role models strictly in architecture. I find them in music, art, design, film, etc. If I had to pick a studio that often inspired me during college days, that would be BIG – a Danish studio with extremely interesting concepts and presentation style. Also, I was always interested in the brutalism architecture – large objects and complexes made from rough concrete and the feeling that they leave on a person when they enter inside them.
MM: What is your narrow specialty when it comes to working for clients? Where do you feel on your own?
Ena Tadej: My job at Brigada is to lead the entire technical part of the project. This includes all steps from communicating with the client, all the designers, contractors, and suppliers, through concept and space design to the implementation of every single detail. Each of these parts brings a different kind of pleasure, and the best moment in the whole process is when I first enter the finished space and see the satisfied client in it. At that moment, all the challenges that emerged during the project become irrelevant.
MM: And what fulfils you the most as an architect in Brigada’s team? What is the most interesting part of your everyday in the agency?
Ena Tadej: My dearest part of every project is definitely the concept stage. In it, the whole team jointly analyses the entire space, the client and their needs, the existing references, and on that basis, we conceive a concept that will be the guiding principle for designing the way a space will function throughout all the following stages. It’s like an algorithm that we come back to when designing each and every element. If the concept is well designed, the entire space will “grow by itself”.
MM: Could you single out some project that brought a particular challenge, and which you fondly remember?
Ena Tadej: Each project is a challenge in its own way, and it is difficult to single out just one. Perhaps the first such challenge came with the Planetopia bookshop project. It was the first project I led completely independently, and which I designed, with the help of a colleague, from the very concept to the details of execution of individual elements within the space. Apart from that, I could also mention ecx.io and Infinum office projects, the Umami restaurant, Neostar showroom, Nord and Alpstories stores… These are all spaces with different demands, purposes and sizes, on which I have learned a lot about retail, the users’ psychology, and about the performance and the way of solving certain details.
MM: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned throughout these years of agency life?
Ena Tadej: Each project brings its own challenges, but all of them are solvable. No matter how much you know and expand your knowledge, no matter how well you are at foreseeing certain situations, each project will bring at least one unpredictable situation. And it’s important to tackle these situations with composure, because all of them are solvable, and from each you come out with a new experience and another new win
MM: Where do you see yourself in the future? What are your professional and personal aspirations?
Ena Tadej: At the moment I still see myself in Brigada. As this is a highly dynamic job, there is still plenty of room for progress and learning. I don’t have some ultimate goal, but I do know that the only thing that is important for me is to feel that there is a possibility for my personal development and progress
MM: What would you advise your peers – to join you in this industry or try to find a better job?
Ena Tadej: The only useful advice is that we need to do what fulfils us, that which excites passion in us. A job, after all, is something that occupies a great part of our life, and if you don’t do what fulfils you, it’s quite possible that at some point in life you’ll burn out and won’t know how to go forward. Of course, every job has its fair share of interesting and mundane tasks, but all that is normal as long as the end result is pleasure.
MM: Do you have free time? How do you like to spend it?
Ena Tadej: Free time is something that each of us creates for ourselves. Of course, it’s sometimes difficult to organize it with all the day-to-day tasks and work, but still, it’s our own fault if we fail to do so. I like to fill the day with various activities, socializing and interests. This keeps me active and fulfils me. I like to face new challenges, because each one helps me fight my own fears and push my limits. The last such challenge and interest is speleology, in which I have already overcome a lot of psychological and physical barriers. But every other moment spent in nature also heals me and reinvigorates me. If I don’t spend my weekends with my family, I try to use them for hiking, scuba diving etc. Besides, I’ve been dancing for a long time, and it’s an activity that has become a part of my daily life and releases me from everyday stress.