In the past, Zagreb’s eastern neighbourhood of Martićeva – so named after its main street – was characterised by numerous hardware stores and car dealerships, which were shuttered during a period of political and economic transition in the 1990s. Today, its formerly abandoned spaces house design and architecture studios, art galleries, concept stores, stylish bistros and more. With its newfound creative energy, it’s no surprise that Martićeva has been dubbed the city’s Design District – a reputation that’s celebrated during the annual Design District Zagreb Festival (14 to 17 June this year). Here are a few of the neighbourhood’s must-visits.
Corporate CEO-turned-entrepreneur Ana Ivančić created Garderoba with the aim of combining stylish mid-range fashion with the concept of slow shopping. Here customers can sip sparkling wine while browsing pieces from local designer Ivana Omazić, as well as exclusive collections from Danish and Swedish creatives. The spacious fitting rooms and comfy armchairs further enhance the slow shopping experience.
2. A Shoo
Designer Anita Zannotti Štulec crafts high-quality men’s and women’s shoes and accessories (including bags and belts) entirely by hand under her own fashion label. After taking her clients’ measurements and design preferences, she custom-makes orders using materials like natural leather, silk, tweed and lace.
A household name in Croatia, Prostoria is known for its design-centric furniture – especially its convertible sofas – which feature in hotels all over the world. At the brand’s spacious showroom, visitors are welcome to lounge on the sofas and armchairs like how they would at home: with a leisurely cup of coffee or tea.
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Grupa has been in the neighbourhood for the past decade, but it was only two years ago that it opened its showroom-cum-studio to the public. The brainchild of design partners Filip Despot, Ivana Pavić and Tihana Taraba, the brand specialises in trendy lighting fixtures and furniture that have found favour with customers both locally and across Europe.
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5. La Marco
Goga Kičin changes the eye-catching window display of her tiny flower shop weekly, always making sure to add a dose of white – because “white provides harmony,” she says. Her custom-made floral creations span everything from romantic bouquets wrapped in vintage newsprint to elaborate decorative pieces for public events.
When it opened in 2004, Booksa was the first cultural space in the neighbourhood for bibliophiles. The atmosphere here is relatively low-key during the day, when members browse books in the reading corner or use the free WiFi to catch up on work. Come evening, the space livens up thanks to an eclectic programme of literary events.
7. Owl Atelier
Tucked away inside one of the city’s many secret courtyards is Owl Atelier. This is where ceramic artist Lidia Boševski explores how to combine natural materials with clay and porcelain. On display in her studio-gallery are creations she calls “mementoes”: delicate bowl-shaped pieces made with algae, seeds and moss, as well as other surprising materials like sea sponge, coconut fibre and paper.
Undoubtedly one of Zagreb’s best fine-dining restaurants, Noel is helmed by the stellar duo of chef Goran Kočiš and sommelier Ivan Jug. “Seasonal, organic and local” is the mantra here, with a rotating menu of delicacies like white truffles, black Slavonian pork, sheep’s cheese and porcini mushrooms. Treat yourself to either the five-, seven- or nine-course tasting menu, or go for the tea-pairing experience.
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9. Noel Bar
The much-loved Blok Bar has recently been rechristened as Noel Bar, forming an offshoot of the aforementioned restaurant. Things (including its glass-cube aesthetic and lively outdoor terrace) have been largely kept as is; the only changes are an expanded wine list and new coffee offerings courtesy of local speciality brand Lively Roasters. Hungry customers can order meals from Noel restaurant just around the corner.
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Veganšpek, which translates to “vegan ham”, is a cheeky name for this new bistro, which caters to vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. Set in a warm and welcoming space adorned with potted plants and other nature motifs, the mostly organic menu truly has something for everyone: from seitan (a meat substitute made from wheat gluten) and shiitake to osso bucco (braised veal) and beef tongue.
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