In Circulation: Buliash Todaeva

Reflections of Contemporary Designers on the Collection of the Museum of Applied Arts

By Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

contemporary design, sustainable design

Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In CirculationMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

In the framework of the In Circulation series, we invite contemporary designers to select an object from the museum collections, and taking their inspiration from it, to create their own new design. The new art object(s) born this way will also become a part of our collection. 

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, portrait of Buliash Todaeva by Ivan ZemaMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

The sixth participant of the In Circulation exhibition series of the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest is Buliash Todaeva, a firm believer and representative of the sustainable design approach. 

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, under preparation by Ivan ZemaMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

It is important for her to re-think the waste that threatens our environment as base material, and to design objects in which the viewpoint already appears in the first phase of design for the object in progress to place the smallest possible burden on the environment.

She always takes into account how large an ecological footprint the object will have. From a sociological perspective, she also tries to re-think the problems caused by the design and fashion industries. 

Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In CirculationMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

With her work, she creates objects that – with their new technologies and visual devices, as well as the fact that they are produced in small-scale production – carry not only a regional identity, but also a social impact.

Upon our invitation, Buliash Todaeva selected three objects from the collections of the Museum of Applied Arts: a small, red patent leather purse that was made circa 1970, as well as an armchair and table from the five-piece Centaur furniture set produced in 1985 by István Szilvássy.

Women's bagMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

In the sixties, the patent-leather PVC and vinyl bags were increasingly in demand, as well as the box bags that were so practical in form. There were similar products made in the Rakospalota Leather and Vinyl Processing Enterprise.

By the seventies, the factory became completely specialised in vinyl bags.These objects originated in Cold War Hungary, during the era when the largest portion of Hungarian industry worked for Soviet export, including the factory where the chosen purse was presumably produce.

In the early eighties, Szilvássy travelled to Milan with his classmates from the academy – at exactly the same time when the Memphis Group first debuted with its work at the Arc’74 Gallery in Milan in September 1981. The appearance of the Memphis Group was a true breakthrough in design history. They didn’t think in terms of series production, but rather designed high-priced products. Unexpected associations and solutions were characteristic of their works. Bravely combined forms, textures and materials.

Centaur' Furniture Ensemble, bookshelfMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Szilvassy decided that he would create similarly playful, experimental furniture.

Centaur' Furniture Ensemble, armchairMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

It is difficult to reconcile these pieces with the mythological figure of the Centaur. Though they have hooves, their pattern is not that of a steed, but the mottled spots of a cow, and their stature makes us think not of the heroic centaurs, but rather of human fallibility.

These stumbling structures can also be read as a kind of satyr of the possibilities proffered by Hungary at the time.

Interestingly enough, the Soviet–Hungarian connection can also be found in Szilvássy’s oeuvre. It is certainly not by chance that Buliash Todaeva, of Kalmyk and Russian heritage, selected exactly these items from the enormous collections of the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest.

Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Szilvassy made inflated figures from tarps. He prepared his first gigantic plastic figure, a turtle for the 1983 Young Artists Festival. The organisers of the 1985 World Festival of Youth and Students also took interest in his enormous turtle, and they invited the designer to come up with a spectacular element for the event organised in the Soviet capital. Thus were born Matryoshka and Mishka, the two 12-metre tall, 6-metre wide dolls, which were fixed to the ground with ropes and sandbags.

Inspired by them, Todaeva designed four medium sized and four larger bags, of which we bequeathed one of each to the Moscow Design Musem, while the other three each were acquired by the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest.

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation,, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Todaeva is an extraordinarily conscious designer. Since she intended to design a family of bags, she had to decide what elements of the selected pieces to continue, and which to omit. 

Women's bag, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Centaur' Furniture Ensemble, table, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Centaur' Furniture Ensemble, armchair, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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The larger format bags followed the form of the red patent leather handbag, and the pattern for the bags draws upon the “cow” model of the Centaur furniture. The wavy line of the handles on the bags formally echoes the cylindrical cushion design of Istvan Szilvassy's Centaur armchairs.

Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, Buliash Todaeva, 2021, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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It was unavoidable for her to also engage with the extremely serious environmental destructiveness of the fashion industry. Immediately from the start of the project, it was planned that the bags would be made of recycled plastic – in part, from the caps of PET bottles, from polyethylene, and in part from biodegradable PLA plastic, from the from waste material of 3D printing. The larger format bags were produced with 100% recycled plastic.

Timeline of the In Circulation: Buliash Todaeva project

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, timeline of the In Circulation: Buliash Todaeva projectMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

In July 2021, the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest invited Buliash Todaeva to be featured in the In Circulation series. The opening of the exhibition in Budapest, scheduled for March 2022, was put to a halt by the Russian–Ukrainian war that broke out in February.

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, timeline of the In Circulation: Buliash Todaeva projectMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

The situation changed radically, and a project spanning across borders and connecting various cultures was suddenly suspended. Buliash Todaeva, from one day to the next, found herself in a situation that was incompatible with her own personal value system.

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, timeline of the In Circulation: Buliash Todaeva projectMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

In April 2022, Todaeva left her life up until that point behind her, as well as her thriving design enterprise, and she emigrated from Russia, to continue her mission in France, which was the most important to her in her work: ethical operations and sustainable design.

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, timeline of the In Circulation: Buliash Todaeva projectMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

The Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest decided to time the presentation of this project bearing the marks of the turns of history, with a year and a half delay, to the 2023 Budapest Design Week.

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation,, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation,, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation,, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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We would not like, however, for the rupture caused by world politics to remain without a trace, and so we decided to preserve the catalogue as it was edited and ready for the printer in 2022, and to publish it with a second cover, supplemented with errata. In this way, the reader can also follow, through a cultural project, how the situation generated by power politics can impact personal destiny, our work, and how it can re-contextualise our ideas, and our perspective for the future.  

“SYSTEM CHANGE, NOT CLIMATE CHANGE!”

Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Shoulder bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Belt bag created within the framework of the In Circulation, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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SYSTEM CHANGE, NOT CLIMATE CHANGE! This is the slogan that Buliash Todaeva chose for the straps of the bag collection she designed. This sentence is even more timely today than it was 18 months ago. Alongside the empathy for the drama and tragedies of the war, it is vital that we are also capable of focussing on a larger theme, since we bear responsibility for the planet on which we live. It is up to us what we will leave to our descendants. Within this project, this is unequivocally the longest-term message.

Credits: Story

by Judit  Horváth, PhD; Melinda Farkasdy; Rita Komporday; Jessica Fehérvári
Sarolta Sztankovics (ed.)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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