The Futuristic HD Imagination of Dušan Sekulić
Coming across multi-talented people who are making the most of it seems to be my top quality these days, and it couldn’t make me happier. This time around, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the amazing mind of Dušan Sekulić: architect, designer, ‘renderist’, thinker, with a vision that is completely his own. Besides being a talented guy with lots of experience in working at home and abroad, he’s extremely knowledgeable in a variety of subjects, has an obsession with playing pinball machines, is marvelously quick-witted and has a fantastic sense of humour. Now let’s find out how he incorporates all of this in his work, because he does – and beautifully so.
How did your life lead you to architecture and design?
I think it was the same as with everybody else. When the time comes to choose what to study, a little bit of you wants to be an engineer, the other bit wants to be an artist, and architecture was the golden middle of the two, I guess. But when you look at it in the end, you’re neither and both – you’re an architect.
Looking at your work on Instagram I noticed that a lot of your posts are hashtagged #render. Can you explain to me, as a non-informed individual, what a ‘render’ is?
We were just talking about this word the other day, it basically just means ‘make’. So, what you do is you put together a simulation of real space where you combine 3D elements, different texture layers and light. Then you click a button with the word ‘render’ on it, which ‘makes’ this simulation by combining all the previously mentioned parameters – like taking a picture with your camera, only instead of the real world you have a simulation, a virtual world, and instead of the camera you have a software.
Ok, so what do you create with it?
It’s a tool like any other, but you can really be versatile with it. You can make animations, architectural or product visualizations, all of this through a camera simulation. For me, it’s a tool of my expression and I use it to visualise ideas.
So, what’s better, a render or a photo?
You can’t say one thing is better than another. Let’s say there are three worlds, the real one, the simulation and your perception. You capture the real world with photograhy, and you make three dimensional simulations with renders.
Ok then, when is a render more useful than a photo?
In architectural visualisation, a render is used to capture unbuilt or non-existing objects. In movies, 3D technology is used to fill in those objects, characters or worlds that would not be possible to build in a studio. Sometimes a photo of a product is actually made in a 3D software, and that’s because it offers a completely controllable and even made up environment. These days even the sharpest of eyes have trouble discerning between a photo of the real thing and a render of it.
When one looks through your portfolio or Instagram, it’s noticeable you have many interests, from architecture to product and interior design. Would you say one of them is essential to you and others hobbies, or are they just different facets of your creative process?
It makes no sense to let just one thing mold you. I don’t want to limit myself to only doing architecture. But there is one common denominator in all that I do, in everything connected with design, and it’s problem solving. You get a problem and you try to resolve it with your story, your narrative. I think it’s important to do diverse things at the onset of one’s career.
So I came across a competition entry called ‘Tower of Hope’ in your portfolio, and there was also the added explanation of the aesthetics’ meaning. Is adding meaning to the aesthetic and shape of your projects important to you?
The first thing for every single project I work on has to be a story. My first impulse isn’t to make it look good, what it portrays has to come first – that’s my design process. You solve every issue or question that comes your way by this, because all the design moves will just have to answer to the general idea. From this romantic notion of storytelling you then come to the next step of ‘Let’s try to make something out of this that also looks good’, but usually, it comes along by itself.
If we take the light installation ‘Circle’ for example, the festival topic was nature, and the question was ‘How do we as architects understand nature, in what way do we view it?’. If you look at nature from a standpoint of geometry, in its most abstract, you come to the shape of a circle. Energies in atoms try to go into different directions and they end up making – a circle. How do you then connect all of this to show an installation to the public? You pick what is common to what you’re showing and those being shown to: the pursuit of perfection. People are in the pursuit of it, to have the perfect wife, kids, house,…
The illusion of all this then stood in the Botanical gardens, under a tree. A floating disc that looked like a mirage, especially at night, with a little extra rain and vapors. When you came close to it, the light went out and you were left with an aftershock of it seared in your retina, and when you came near the well you saw your face in it.
The point is that perfection will always elude you, like the little doe that it is, and that self-reflection is key to everything.
What is the relationship between you and inspiration like? Does it hit you like a lightning bolt, do you draw it from certain places…?
I believe in two general convictions about inspiration – one is ‘let yourself be inspired’ and the other is ‘get yourself inspired’. Passive vs active action, if you like.
An example of passive inspiration would be the idea for one of my recent projects, which I got while I was taking a stroll around my neighbourhood. I saw those huge jumbo posters there and thought to myself: ‘There’s so much space in between them you could fit a Ljubljana-sized small apartment in there.’ As a critique to current real-estate market I made a render of the dwelling, equipped with a shiny 5G antennae with a financial self sustainability tagline: “Jumbo posters and 5G antennas pay my rent!”. A bit of social criticism.
On the other hand, when I’m in search of active inspiration, I try to tune everything out, and focus on a single problem. I try to observe the problem from different angles, propose myself an elementary question and try to answer it in a quirky and fun way. Also, a routine that you create for yourself can be helpful in training your brain to work, rather than just wandering around and waiting for inspiration to strike.
Could you say that you have a favorite out of all your projects?
The most recent one is always the favorite. Or the new one that I’m working on!
Let’s have a few ‘this or that’ questions. Do you prefer working alone or in a team?
Both have perks and downfalls. It’s much easier working as a part of a team because you can force each other into doing things, so the ‘Ugh I don’t feel like doing this’ mood is not present. You get sucked into kind of a momentum. But when you work on your own, it’s easier to joke around with what you’re doing. You’re allowed to have the attitude of ‘I like this and I don’t care if you don’t’.
What type of projects do you prefer? Architecture, set design for commercials, product design…?
Again, can’t say 100% this or that. Every type gives you its own experience, schools you in some way. Because of the commercials I travelled a lot around Slovenia, met tons of new people and learned about professions I didn’t know existed. Working for architectural offices in Berlin and Vienna gave me so many new insights: about life generally and also about the mechanisms of an architectural production in an international environment.
Your Master Thesis, Ljubljana Transport Hub, basically what you imagined the Ljubljana central train/bus terminal could look like, won a Slovenian Design Award – Promising in Architecture. What meaning does getting this hold for you?
It’s good to get this kind of feedback, evaluation. Especially for a thing you believe in. With my thesis I wanted to do something that was close to me, that I enjoyed. Among the things that I enjoy are aviation and speculative futurism, so I did a possible futuristic airport.
If you can think about your dream project where you have no financial or time constraints, what would it be?
Yeah well, let’s make this transportation hub then!
Do you have a bucket list for projects that you haven’t done yet but need to do in life?
There are always projects of different types rotating on a bucket list. But my bigger picture for now is about thinking of moving again, probably to one of the European capitals for work in an architectural studio, and opening my own one day.
As a recognised, perspective young creative with a lot of experience, do you have any advice for someone only starting on their path? Do you have any life hacks for them?
To people of what age am I supposed to give this advice?
If you’re 3-5 tell your mum to buy you those crayons!
Okay, let’s say they’re a bit older 🙂
I’d say just work away and invest yourselves! Dedicate your time, effort and focus into something you love.