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NPD 2015 - Special Prize of Minister of Culture of the Slovak republic

NPD 2015 - Special Prize of Minister of Culture of the Slovak republic

Text by Katarína Hubová

Štefan Klein, Associate Professor, MSc., Master of Fine Arts (1959)

I believe in Klein´s visions.
Designer, constructor, teacher. Specialist in the field of means of transport design. Born in Nitra.Graduated from Faculty of Engineering of the Slovak University of Technology (1983) and from the Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts, specialization:Design (1990). Postgraduate education obtained in France (1992 - 1993). In 1993 participated in the establishment of the transport design studio at the Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts, the very first institution of the kind in Slovakia, still operating under his leadership. Also established cooperation of the school with the car makers Volkswagen, Audi, Škoda, BMW, Ford and Renault.Was visiting professor at School of Art of Glasgow andvice-chancellorfor science and research of the Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts from 1998 to2006.In 1997 (together with Ivan Čobej) awarded the National Design Prize, in 1999 awarded Banič´s prize (for lightweight electrical automobile). Professionally covers design oftransport facilities. Cooperated with WUSAM a.s. (joint stock company) Zvolen, ZŤS DubnicanadVáhom, VAB - SipoxBánovcenadBebravou, ŽOS Zvolena.s. (joint stock company), TAZ Trnava, Slovbus N.M., Detva. Specialist in the field of means of transportand transport at the same time means challenge for him to personally research, to look for new optional fuels and for new visions. At present successfully explores alternative means of transport–flying car - AeroMobil. In 2015 awarded the Krištáľovékrídlo(the Crystal Wing) prize in the category of fine arts for AeroMobil and state prize - theĽudovítŠtúrOrder, 2ndclass .Lives at Nitra.

It is completely pertinent that ŠtefanKlein was awarded the 2015 special prize of Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic in the National Design Prize competition for his personal contribution in the area of design. I know him for a long time now and I also know he is not the type of person who works just to achieve social recognition or prizes, even though this year he was awarded plenty of them. Many associate his name with AeroMobil– the flying car, but who know him longer realize that there is much more to justify this form of respect and admiration of his work. It is said that industriousness, hard work and creativityare the pre-conditions of success, but in case of Štefan Klein I would also like to add his ability to foresee and to perseveringly pursue his vision, even though it seems as utopia. He started dreaming of a flying car as a student of the Slovak University of Technologyand there was hardly someone believing in the feasibility of the project then. Nowadays the topic is dealt with by the top developmentand research centers in the world. Our country was not even a part of the European Union and he already imagined the students of his studio cross the borders of Slovakia. Upon the establishment of the first independent transport design studio within the Design Department of the Bratislava Academy of Fine Artsback in 1993 it still seemed that there was something in the domestic industry to follow up with. The studio cooperated with several domestic and foreign producers such as TAZ Trnava, VAB BánovcenadBebravou and others. When the companies started closing their production halls gradually, Klein was personally establishing the very first foreign contactswith the most important European car makers. The first cooperation partner was Volkswagen of Germany which brought different view of car design, new procedures, technologies, materials and of course financial support to the school. Contact of students with real practice and even possibility to be in training at the most prestigious designerstudios of important car makers is experience that many of us may only envy them. Many of his students remained abroad to work. It is just pity that no suitable jobs are available to them at home, even though they have good education obtained at a renowned school – the studio is far-famed abroad, too.
Cooperation with companies on the ground of the designstudio of the Academy of Fine Arts began to develop in mid 90ies of the last century and followed up with Štefan Klein´s cooperation with production companies. It was a targeted initiative of the Research and Implementation Center (RIC),a part of the Design Department. I participated in its formation and still recall the many discussions with Ivan Čobej and mainly with Pipo Klein (as everybody calls him) as to how fulfill that visionin real terms. It was his idea to establish a unit to naturally combine research and practice. There were three section of the RIC – the research section –within the framework of which foundations of a digital department were already being built then, the implementation section - within the framework of which prototypes were being produced in the workshops from the materials such as metal, wood, composite materials and the exhibition section. His initiative resulted in that period in the establishment of the school´s presentation tradition where there is a certain interconnection with the practice again. Cooperation with Agrokomplex Nitra exhibition premises started then and mainly there are still exhibitions entitled Design Forums held within the framework of the Furniture and Furnishings Fair. The idea of looking for producers of student projects was working quite well(Domark, BRIK, Mobiliér...) in the early years of the exhibition, later the companies were getting through difficult times facing problems and cooperation was quite rare then. It was when Klein was persuading us that the projects would have to be filed to fund the “undernourished” education system, that science and research belong to the ground of a school of arts and to that of a  universityor to a technical ground. He did not give up his idea even though he did not enjoy wide support of his colleagues from school at the time and had to argue and persuade a lot. There was no real example of such a project in the area of education. In the period from 1995 to 1996 when he promoted a new unit  -the Research and Implementation Center (RIC) – there were no strategies and no European grants to support science and research as we nowadaysknow them. Although the RIC stopped operating in 2001, yet it became a base for the establishment of the Instituteof Arts and Science (IAS) in 2002 asthe school´s organizational structure for science and research throughout the Academy of Fine Arts. The IAS was in 2009 renamed to the Research Center of the Academy of Fine Arts, while its main role is still development of research in the field of the arts.
Research forms a part of Klein´s works. Besides his teaching profession he also invents various experimental tasks of which some are more realistic, while the others are more utopian. In 2006 Klein designed the Molecul three-wheeler for MenziMuckof Switzerland. It is an alternative means of transport to enhance the possibilities of cycling transport. There was also a walking excavator. Experimental is the Microjetproject – concept of a compact and portable glider, an ultralight construction including an auxiliary engine with human body integrated in the construction of the wings.

His prescience proved to be a real need for so many times that it is worth believing his visions.

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