A large part of contemporary Croatian production in design has been presented in the Bernardo Bernardi Gallery since 2012. Many, today’s successful designers, presented their work to the public for the first time in this Gallery, as a kind of test space, on the first floor of the building of the Public Open University in Zagreb, in an extremely frequent place where participants of a wide range of educational programs pass by and inevitably become the audience, exposed to thoughtful visual content both already established young designers and those who demonstrate quality and talent their talent in their early works. In September 2022, the person who started it all is presented for the first time in the gallery space: Bernardo Bernardi, or more precisely, his work. A large round table was originally the center of the library room area, surrounded by distinctive chairs, designed for the University premises. Today, in the function of an exhibit and by separating it from the context of everyday use, it reminds of the beginnings of the design profession in Croatia.
The Gallery Bernardo Bernardi is located in the building of the Public Open University Zagreb, which is an educational institution founded in 1907. Its main purpose has been education that includes lifelong learning. The new building of what was then Moša Pijade Workers’ University was built in 1961 on a representative location, at the intersection of two traffic highways, according to the project of the architects Radovan Nikšić and Ninoslav Kučan, in the tradition of modernism of the Zagreb architecture circle. In parallel with the architectural project, a conceptual solution for furniture and equipment for the building was created, adapted to its content and aesthetics: Bernardo Bernardi designed several specific series of elements using different materials and production techniques. Design as a profession was at that time still in the phase of affirmation, and Bernardi’s furniture brought to the Croatian area experience from abroad, it brought the refined forms of Scandinavian authors, pointing out the importance of comprehensive reflection and the connection between architecture and equipment, emphasizing importance of the synthesis of all arts in the creation of a space. Bernardi’s original furniture is still in use today in the building of the Public Open University in Zagreb and is a testament to the quality that stands the test of time.