Words from the Dalmatian dialect often get thrown around in commercial settings, thus getting turned into a cliché. Need we even mention phrases like pomalo or fjaka? Yet every once in a while, a genuine figure appears whose usage of words isn't a marketing trick, but an example of how to practice what you preach — somebody like Ana Suljić and her Dišpetoža dizajn (English pronounciation: Dish-peh-tho-zha). To be a dišpetoža, one must be a master of the art of dišpet: staying stubbornly defiant in the face of false authority and life's challenges. As Ana says:
- Being a dišpetoža is a way of life. I live and breathe dišpetoža wherever I go and whatever I do, from the activist work to the mentality of my hometown, Split, embedded within me. It's something that you have with you from the first day of your life.
Ana opened her business in 2016 and since then she's made a name for herself with her politically engaged, snarky designs.
- I think Dišpetoža is really different from other places one would visit because I put my heart into everything I do, so the interior reflects that as well. When I was designing the shop, in the back of my mind I always kept the fact that I’d be there every day, so I had to find a way to make the place give off relaxing vibes. People’s reactions are beautiful: some of them cry and when we exchange hugs, of course there’s a huge exchange of emotions, too. On the other side, some people have issues with my designs, so, unfortunately, conflicts arise again and again, but that's the way it is when you do what Dišpetoža does!
Ana's designs often feature portraits of popular figures known for their humanistic outlook on life, and they're combined with punchy one-liners. One of the people portrayed is Nikola Tesla: the 20th century genius, inventor of the first alternating current motor, and a man whose roots Croatia and Serbia still dispute on. Under Tesla's semi-profile, a warning statement: - I'll turn off your electricity.
- My last design with Emiliano Zapata is actually a design intended as a way to say goodbye from my shop in the city centre. Below Zapata’s portrait, there’s his quote: “I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.” I feel like that’s the motto of my whole life, so it also felt like a good way to mark my move to a completely online business.
If you're thinking to yourself whether or not you'll make it to Split to have a chance to experience the free-spirited environment and its creator, Ana assures us that she'll most likely be working in the shop until mid-October, but after that, there's always worldwide shipping. - This is just the closing of one chapter, but the book is still being written!
We also asked her does she have any words of assurance for people moving to Croatia and starting their life here. - Well this country is really nice and beautiful, but if you are moving here, be prepared for its system. Let's just say it's not a joyride.
For more of Ana's design and views on Croatia, check out her Instagram and her webshop. When it comes to dealing with the Croatian system, well... You know who to call.