Craftsmanship is the very essence of their existence and identity. Even their name, Zanat, is the local word for ‘craft’. Everything is in that name, artistry, skill and all that it implies, it is why we paid attention. A small network of Bosnian workshops producing works of haptic elegance and doing so in such a vital manner, Makers & Brothers are very excited to have them in our offer.
Carved pieces with an incredible history and from a company with super positive outlook. Zanat is a perfect representation of what we love, traditional techniques and modern thinking, a respect for the past made relevant for today.
The name Zanat is the Bosnian word for craft, and the story behind the company is similarly rooted. It crosses four generations and starts nearly a century ago, when great-grandfather Gano Niksic stumbled upon a primitive hand-carving technique that originated in a nearby village. Perfecting it, Gano further developed the technique into what has become known as the Bosnian Konjic style, named after the family’s hometown of Konjic.
He passed down these skills to his son, Adem, whose entrepreneurial spirit led him to apply the technique to his own furniture designs. He started his own company in 1927, making luxury furniture and inspiring others in Konjic to open furniture workshops in the inter-war period. This is the bedrock of the family business, a solid foundation in traditional craftsmanship paired with an interest in contemporary design.
“It takes a tremendous amount of history to make even a little tradition.”
In a history spanning almost a century, progress could never be straightforward: World War II, the Socialist regime in Yugoslavia and the series of wars that followed its demise all contributed to a difficult, virtually impossible environment for entrepreneurs and craftsmen.
When the Bosnian war ended in 1995, Besim reopened and started growing the company with the help of his sons Adem and Orhan. Business expanded quickly, and Adem took over management of the company with his brother. Their vision was inspired by their appreciation for modern design and their growing discomfort with the gap that was widening between modern design and quality craftsmanship.
They still sketch new designs directly onto the wood surfaces, manually chiseling and cutting the grain to bring the drawings to life. The number of textures, patterns and aesthetic styles that can be created by using these techniques is infinite, limited only by the imagination of the artist-creator. The process transforms plain pieces of wood into reassuringly traditional yet modern objects.
The family’s belief in their craft forms an understanding of how one can build on tradition, of how the past can inform the future. And beyond the philosophical, it shows how a strong network of local makers can present a sustainable path for local commerce, both ecologically and socially. We like their work and their thinking and hope you do to.
“Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake.”
Making Photography by Zanat
Quote by Henry James
Quote by Richard Sennett, The Craftsman