50 years of design heritage Gorenje

This year, Gorenje is celebrating 50 years since the company began designing its own products. It's been half a century since the first line drawn by first Gorenje designer Marjan Dwořák in 1963. Since then, the scope of design work has grown as production programs were expanded and new factories were built.

The 50 years of Gorenje’s design heritage can be broken down into three distinct design periods: first, Gorenje as follower focussed on designing the product; then, Gorenje as challenger focussed on designing function; and today, with Gorenje as trendsetter focussed on designing the user experience.


Designing the product

After constructing its first modern cooking, washing, and cooling appliances factory in 1969 in the production complex in Velenje, Gorenje decided to switch from licensed manufacturing to manufacturing its own products. This required the company’s own design and development. A milestone in this regard was the decision made in 1970 by company director Ivan Atelšek to invite Ciril Cesar, a designer educated in Germany, to introduce design to Gorenje. Cesar laid the foundations for the ascent of Gorenje’s design work to worldwide repute.

In 1971, Cesar founded the Design Centre Gorenje. He introduced the Ulm design model, according to which the product is firmly embedded in the centre of the development triangle known as the Ma-De-Co system: Marketing – Design – Construction. He cleaned up production and made it compatible with the European modular system, which has been applied for all new products thereafter. This also led to technological rationalization and reduced production costs. A new corporate visual identity introduced in 1977 also left its impression on the period; indeed, it has stood the test of time and still remains in use to this day.


Washing machine 663 BIO Superavtomat was designed in 1965 by Marjan Dwořák.
Cooker Gorenje Exclusive was designed in 1973 by Design Center Gorenje under leadership of Ciril Cesar.

Designing the function

In 1980, Design Centre Gorenje was merged with the Research and Development Department. Ciril Cesar was succeeded in 1981 by industrial designer Janez Smerdelj, who had studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art in the USA. The focus of design shifted from white goods to all-around support and the offer of design services to the entire Gorenje corporation. In the early 1990s, design was given a more prominent role still within Gorenje, then headed by Herman Rigelnik, who appointed Janez Smerdelj as an board management consultant.

In 1991, Design Centre Gorenje again became an independent department. With a new development-driven agenda, management specified design as a strategically important field. Changing economic conditions and developments allow Gorenje to re-position the company in the market. Gorenje evolves from a mere follower to a challenger.

With each new generation, Gorenje appliances are smarter and more advanced, reflecting a new era of design and a focus on superior user experience based on intuition, emotion, and simplification of features and controls.

Washing machine Simple & Logical was designed in1997 by Janez Smerdelj and Anton Holobar.
Conceptual project Touch the future was designed in 2001 in Design Center Gorenje under leadership of Janez Smerdelj.

Designing the user experience

Successor of Rigelnik, Jože Stanič managed Gorenje throughout the period of the country’s post-independence transition in the early 1990s. In 2003, he passed the torch to Franjo Bobinac, who stressed the following among the key motors of success: innovation, design, environmental friendliness and brand investment; and oversaw the company’s transition to fully independent manufacturer, and its transformation from challenger to trendsetter. The first trend-setting project to come out of Gorenje was the Simple & Logical washing machine, which spurred a further leap in the focus on design where designing the function was succeeded by designing the user experience. The serial development process gave way to the parallel, simultaneous, teamwork-based process of product creation. And the use of techniques and tools of concurrent development led to better understanding of the end-user.

In 2008, Design Centre Gorenje was transformed into an independent company – Gorenje Design Studio – that offers its services to third-party customers as well. In 2009, Janez Smerdelj was succeeded by then already established designer Lidija Pritržnik.

HomeCHEF oven features a sliding touch control panel designed at Gorenje Design Studio.
Gorenje Simplicity collection II, designed in 2013, is the work of Gorenje Design Studio designers.