In our new column Meet a local we present interesting individuals from different professional fields living in Belgrade. The idea is to get to know some locals and their favorite neighborhoods and venues in the city.
Please introduce yourself to our readers:
My name is Leonida Ajder. I am an interior designer and founder of NoConcept studio and gallery. Becoming who I am today did not exactly go in chronological order, even though I always knew who I wanted to be when I grow up. Choosing to study Economics was a « safe choice » in the nineties- a decade filled with difficulty and uncertainty for most here. While trying to escape Economics, I ended up graduating from Tourism, while only being completely fulfilled in a creative field. I lived for exhibitions and museums, design fairs both in Serbia and abroad, as well as shopping that was mostly reduced to design magazines and art books. You could say I was actively but patiently waiting for my moment to arrive. In the meantime, I became a mom to three wonderful girls.
With my husband’s unconditional support, I decided to go back to school around the time when my youngest daughter went to kindergarten. The passion for design, and particularly for the interiors created a dedicated and disciplined student, who found respite from family obligations in creative work. Life was full of ups and downs, but nothing could distract me from my deeply desired path. I met some amazing people along the way who supported me and selflessly shared their time, contacts, and experiences. During the years of personal and professional training in the field of art and interiors, the idea of developing a design team and a studio gallery space was born. When the Danube Station space was vacated for rent, all pieces of the puzzle seemed to fall in the right place.
Has there been a new project lately?
In addition to interior design projects which are a foundation of our activity, we have just opened our NoConcept Gallery on the premises of the former Danube Station. This hub is both our design studio and a gallery. After a successful competition that we announced at the beginning of the year, we have developed a very ambitious agenda of exhibitions and events, which includes three different programs: Green Program- with its objective to support the young creators, undergraduates, and students with a master’s degree in need of exhibition space and visibility; Blue Program– exhibits professional artists, doctoral students of art and related faculties; Orange Program focuses on workshops, lectures, and similar activities by signing a cooperative agreement with the Faculty of Applied Arts, we have initiated a completely new way of supporting young artists. It is a great responsibility and an immense honor to be the « first serious exhibitor » of a young academic, and a part of this important life-changing moment in the life of a young creator.
What do you like about Belgrade?
I love spontaneous drifting through Belgrade. The picture of the city created from this perspective is very personally valuable. Having my regular ‘’pathways’’, brings a certain kind of joy and respite from the city dynamics. Such places are river sidewalks, little streets and corners of the Vračar quart, but the most favorite one is the Krunska street.
Where do you like to go out?
Going out, in general, has become an effort lately. I lived that part of my life in my twenties, and the places we loved then are not a part of the present moment as Belgrade went through a lot of economic and cultural changes throughout the years. Now, as my kids are growing up, I feel like I’ll catch up on the new attractive places to go out, but for now, I like taking a drink in Đura bar near my gallery, chilling by the river on the raft Lasta, and at night- bars in the Cetinjska street or house parties.
Name 3 of your favorite restaurants in the city?
A couple of years ago, I researched hospitality design. I visited hotels, restaurants, and cafes in Belgrade and abroad, taking notes of my observations and impressions of interiors and cuisines. I love trying new things and going to new places. However, compiling a list of my favorite restaurants is not an easy task at all since I like diverse cuisines like sushi, seafood, fusion, and Asian cuisine. My top three would probably be: AT TIKA’S – because it’s a real gastronomic spectacle; BYBLOS – because Lebanese cuisine is close to my heart and BON VIVANT – because it’s a small, relatively new takeaway place with a great fusion of tastes. Sometimes I enjoy a good brunch in Belgrade Urban Distillery.
Where do you drink coffee?
Being a tea lover makes me rarely drink coffee, but I enjoy a latte at Šoljica from time to time.
Where do you spend your leisure time?
Having only a little free time while in Belgrade, I enjoy spending it at my home or at the places listed above, but also visiting the cinema and cultural events such as exhibitions, plays, concerts… I prefer spending my free time travelling- it makes me happy!
Name your 3 favorite locations in Belgrade and justify your choice.
NoConcept studio and gallery – because it’s a realization of my vision and dream
Kalenić market – because it always brings me back to reality. I love markets in general- markets are personation of life!
Kosutnjak forest – because it’s my youth, my happiness, my peace and my focus.