The K67 Kiosk is a symbol of Yugoslavia. Once ubiquitous in its thousands, only a few hundred units remain around the former country, many in various state of disrepair, and a handful of others around the world. Particularly over the past decade, the Kiosk has been experiencing a revival of sorts. It nowadays inspires educators, artists, designers, and others in their work.

With Filip Filković and Dijana Handanović.

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Episode Transcript

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[JINGLE]

PETER KORCHNAK: This is Remembering Yugoslavia, the show exploring the memory of a country that no longer exists. I’m your designer Peter Korchnak.

There’s a scene in the movie High Fidelity where John Cusack’s character eyeballs his record store patrons and announces to his coworker that he will now sell five copies of Beta Band’s album The Three EPs. He puts on their song “Dry the Rain,” stands back, and watches the cash roll in. “Who is that?” asks one of the marks. “The Beta Band.” “It’s good,” the guy says, bobbing his head. “I know,” says John Cusack with a smug expression.

When I want to boost engagement on Remembering Yugoslavia’s Instagram, I announce to the wall, “I will now get a thousand likes.” Then I post a photo of the K67 Kiosk, sit back, and watch the hearts roll in. The Kiosk pics are some of the most popular on my Instagram, @rememberingyugoslavia. “It’s iconic,” a commenter will inevitably say. I know.

I’m not being smug about it. It’s the truth. The K67 Kiosk is a symbol of Yugoslavia. Once ubiquitous in its thousands, only a few hundred specimens remain around the former country, many in various state of disrepair, and a handful of others around the world. The Kiosk nowadays inspires educators, artists, designers, and many others in their work. And that’s our episode today: the past, present, and future of the K67 Kiosk.

It was about time I entered the world of the Kiosk. As iconic as it is, there are so many topics and subjects and stories to explore in that disappeared country. This is Episode 81, by the way, in our fourth year. What keeps me going is my passion for the place and a drive to understand the complicated place that was (and, in a way, is) Yugoslavia. You can only listen to the podcast all around the world without a paywall because of my generous supporters. People like Jonathan and Mirko, the latest members of our community. Thank you, guys.

You, my listeners, help keep the show go on, independent and accessible to all. If you can, please consider chipping in. Every little bit helps. In fact, if every listener contributed just three dollars or euros per month to support the show, I could do this full time and release an episode every week!

With your contribution you will join the esteemed company of people like Jonathan, Mirko, and many other generous supporters of Remembering Yugoslavia; you will indeed keep the show on the digital air, and, last but not least, get access to extended and bonus episodes of the podcast.

Visit RememberingYugoslavia.com/Donate or click the handy Support link in the episode notes in your podcast listening app.

[SOUNDBITE – “Galaksija z 80a” by Detective Spook]

PETER KORCHNAK: The K67 Kiosk is the brainchild and lifetime achievement of Saša Janez Mächtig. Born in Ljubljana in 1941, he enrolled in the architecture school in the 1960s where one of his professors was Edvard Ravnikar, a leading Slovenian post-war architect.

The Kiosk spun off from another design project Mächtig was working on: a canopy roof for a cafe. A recent graduate in 1966, he learned about the local urban planners’ search for a solution to Ljubljana’s kiosk problem.

Yugoslavia was developing fast in the 1960s and early 70s in a new wave of modernization following post-war reconstruction and move away from Soviet-style centrally-planned economy. New industries and infrastructure were built, factory production shifted to a higher gear, cities grew with new workers from the countryside. Yugoslavia’s economic system of market socialism, based on workers’ social ownership and self-management, blended the features of capitalism and socialism.

Hand in hand went the rise of consumer culture. The communists had officially acknowledged the need to raise workers’ living standards. As employment and incomes grew, increasingly prosperous (relatively speaking) Yugoslavs spent their dinars on increasing amounts of stuff, both at home and abroad. They bought more, they consumed more media, they moved about more…

I’ve dedicated a fair amount of airtime to this history, in stories about the Fićo car, the Olympics, the architecture and monuments… Check out the podcast archives at RememberingYugoslavia.com/Podcast, and, if you’re a member of the community of supporters, the extended and bonus episode at the website or on Patreon.

Anyway, a culture of small enterprise emerged, with citizen-run businesses mushrooming across Yugoslavia, part of that shift toward improving living standards. All the new consumer commerce required an increasing number of retail salespoints, something which the existing brick-and-mortar infrastructure couldn’t provide and keep up with. The street became the frontier of capitalism in the socialist country. Stands and kiosks proliferated. But it was chaos. Back then, kiosks were mostly considered tiny buildings and were made using common construction methods. Too many kiosks of too many designs created too much confusion, both in the urban planning and commercial senses, clashing with the redefined role of architecture as a vehicle of improving the general standard of living.

Social and cultural architecture and design now had to express modernity, including well-designed, accessible products, often in unusual shapes. It was the 60s after all. New trends emerged, often following connections with advanced Western architectural and design traditions, including the Scandinavian and Swiss ones.

The need for aesthetically pleasing, functional, industrially-produced facilities for street vending inspired Mächtig. He took initiative, some PVC pipes, and, with design and mass production possibilities of plastics in mind, set out to solve the problem. The solution came to him when he accidentally dropped some initial pipe models and they shattered on the floor. His models featuring bisecting tubes showed potential for creating a family of compatible tubular modules to create a simple, multifunctional structure with unlimited combination possibilities. Indeed, modularity was the hallmark of contemporary design in the 1960s.

The Kiosk’s basic unit was a cubic structure, measuring 240 centimeters or 8 feet in each dimension making for a footprint of about 5.5 square meters or about 84 square feet.

The design consisted of five primary, load-bearing modules, including the basic cube, consisting of a floor, ceiling, and corner columns; a corridor; a triangle core; and an extension. This allowed for various agglomerations of units to be created. A number of secondary, filler elements allowed for different functionalities, like door, shop window, sales counter, or wall. Further elements complemented the modularity, including skylights, awnings, canopies, shelves, light fixtures, blinds, and legs, to create countless combinations to suit a particular business need or location.

The Kiosk was made from a reinforced polyfiber shell (that is, polyester + fiberglass), polyurethane foam filling, steel supports, and glass or plexiglass. These materials, combined with the Kiosk’s design, rounded corners and all, made for a modern, pleasing, even light-hearted object. It’s how the 1960s imagined the future.

Presenting the K67 project for the first time, Mächtig said, quote, “In its modern interpretation the Kiosk allows growth and change, in purpose and meaning similar to Scandinavian furniture systems and in terms of design feeling akin to automotive bodywork.”

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Ljubljana’s urban planners loved the models and supported Mächtig in finding a company to make prototypes and eventually manufacture the Kiosk. Mächtig patented the Kiosk in 1967, hence its name (as I understand it, he remains the owner of the copyright). He soon found just the right factory, Imgrad in Ljutomer, Slovenia, which was already making polyester products.

The prototypes were exhibited on the Ljutomer town square in April 1969; the exhibition drew much enthusiasm from experts and, with their bright red color, the public as well. Though the Kiosk was eventually made in other colors, including yellow, orange, green, white, and blue, red, called traffic red, was the original, based on the Brionvega radio, and most common; in many areas of the former Yugoslavia, the K67 was colloquially known as crveni kiosk, the red kiosk. For all you design nerds out there, the exact hue was RAL 3020.

Later that year, Mächtig presented his idea at the world design congress. There the project caught the attention of the editors of the leading trade magazine, Design, which in 1970 published a piece on the Kiosk curiously titled, “Low Life on the Streets.”

Soon after, the Museum of Modern Art came calling, wanting to exhibit the kiosk as part of the 20th century design collection. Imgrad shipped two first-gen kiosks to New York where they were exhibited outside the museum on 53rd Street.

All this before production even started in earnest.

The first operational K67 was set up in Ljubljana as a newsstand. Most Kiosks across the former Yugoslavia were indeed newsstands, selling papers, magazines, gum, cigarettes, bus tickets, and so on.

Next came street food.

In Belgrade, the company PKB (Poljoprivredni kombinat Beograd, Agriculture Combine Belgrade) decided in the late 1960s to sell hot dogs and sausages on the streets. They held a design competition for a kiosk and ended up adopting the K67. The red kiosk was then an indelible part of Belgrade’s urban landscape until the early 1990s. Street food vending was perhaps the second most frequent use for the Kiosk.

These hot dog and sausage stands were, “an inevitable place for elementary and high school students to visit in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” wrote Dragan Odžaklijević in 2004 in the Lexicon of Yugoslav Mythology. “Everyone lived under the conviction that their mothers could never prepare such hot dogs or sausages at home, despite the fact that the sausages were full of veins, that the wrapper of the hot dogs and sausages could be chewed instead of chewing gum and that the mustard was so watered down (the specialty of the white-clad aunts who worked in the kiosks) that everyone was hooked after the first bite.”

The first-generation model, with production starting in 1970, was a single, monolithic unit. This is why the Kiosk could not be placed inside the MoMA building. Seeing the kiosk outside the museum inspired Mächtig to update the design, and beginning in 1971, the second generation design could be disassembled into constituent parts.

In 1972 the Kiosk system won a contest for the Munich Summer Olympics but a fire on the Imgrad factory floor prevented full delivery and so only a handful of Kiosks appeared in Germany, in the city of Kiel where the sailing competition was held.

The kiosk manual contained the simple instruction: “Buy, set up, operate.” Because of the Kiosk’s flexibility, other uses evolved over time. Florists. Ticket vending. Ice cream parlors. Parking attendant booths. Guard booths. Information or tourist offices. Ski lift ticket booths. Photocopying. Traffic police checkpoints. Border posts. Produce stands. Lottery stands. Sports reporter booths. Sanitary facilities. Private garden sheds. Locksmiths or shoemaker shops. Bars. Bee farms. Meteorological stations.

Different modular combinations, different elements, different colors…it was like a three-dimensional puzzle in which every combination is the right one. The K67’s modularity made it ideal for almost any location and a wide range of functions.

The Kiosk became ubiquitous, part of the urban fabric across the former country, the so-called “street furniture.”

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FILIP FILKOVIĆ: It reminds me of my childhood in Yugoslavia. I was a kid back then.

PETER KORCHNAK: Filip Filković is a director, filmmaker, and artist in Zagreb. Among many other projects he directed the video for the song “YUstalgija” by Priki, which you’ve heard in Episode 20, “Rock’n’Retro.” The live action takes place at the monument on Petrova Gora. Filković is now making a documentary film about the K67 Kiosk.

I spoke with Filković last May next to a Kiosk in central Zagreb, which is used as a guard and ticket booth for a private parking lot (to find the Kiosk, go to Vlaška Street number 77 and walk through the passageway into the inner courtyard). The Kiosk’s original red color showed through aging silver paint. A bicycle leaned against the side. A ramp stood open at attention. It was a little windy during our conversation, even as we were sheltered by the kiosk on one side and the building on two sides, and an occasional car passed into and from the lot.

Like so many ex-Yugoslavs, Filković, who was born in 1983, has vivid memories of the kiosk.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: My first recollection of the Kiosk was in the late 80s when my grandma took me to like Samobor, it’s a small town, near Zagreb, in Croatia. And I would see these Kiosks, at the bus station, at the city center, you know, and some of them were like, a fruit stands, some of them were like, you know, trafike, places where you would buy, you know, gum, cigarettes, smokes, newspapers. But my first interaction with the Kiosk was in Podsused, it’s like a small neighborhood in Zagreb, I used to go to school there.

Each time that I would go to this Kiosk to buy some bubblegum or some, you know, comic books or ice cream, I don’t know, I have like fond memories of it, because cheerful people worked in those kiosks. You know, like, those were the people who were a part of the community. And to me, like these Kiosks, up until now, to this day, I kind of personify them through these people that work in them. So it’s not just like an object, but it’s like, you know, also the people who are in them.

And then you meet Saša Mächtig, who made the kiosk, and you figure out like, what kind of guy he is. And then you understand. And then like, the whole thing comes together because the people who like used to work in the, in the Kiosks, and are working at now, are kind of similar to him, because he’s like this jolly, very warm kind of guy. So to me, it all came together.

PETER KORCHNAK: Most K67s were single-module units, featuring a sales window and a counter, and that’s how the kiosk is entrenched in public imagination. But many agglomerations were created as well. One such combo is still in existence and use in central Trebinje, where three modules combine for a flower shop; I spotted another, even larger one in downtown Kragujevac, where it comprised something akin to a mini-stripmall, with various vendors located in a single combined structure.

The Kiosk was simple and flexible, inexpensive (one kiosk for three Fića cars, I’m told) and easy to mass produce (I mean plastic, come on); it took up little room, required no building permits, and could be placed anywhere; it was mobile, assemblable, and easily hooked up to utilities.

At the same time, in contrast to the previous chaotic situation, K67 was a system, even when used in its most basic modular unit. As an open system, the Kiosk allowed all those adaptable combinations and changes over time.

K67 became so successful production couldn’t keep up. Customers had to wait for several months for delivery. Kiosks were delivered by road, rail, water, and, in inaccessible locations, by helicopter.

By the time production ceased after thirty years, Imgrad produced some 7,500 kiosks. Most dotted the urban spaces of Yugoslavia’s cities but the kiosk found purchase elsewhere in the world as well. The early press and being in MoMa helped; those early successes both served as proof of concept and demonstrated the worldwide commercial potential of the kiosk. Since a lot of Yugoslavia’s growth was financed with foreign loans, pressures intensified for Yugoslav companies to generate foreign currency with their products. The Kiosk was a perfect export product. Kiosks found their way to Western Europe, the Soviet Bloc, some of the non-aligned countries, even as far as Japan and New Zealand.

In Poland, the Kiosk was part of the transition to the market economy in the 1980s and 90s. Authorities permitted street sellers to hawk everything from groceries and dairy products to plants and flowers to fast food and baked goods to bootleg cassette tapes and fruit preserves, under one condition: it had to be done in a K67.

In 1987, [the] Zagreb-based magazine START published a list of 25 best-designed Yugoslav industrial products. K67 came at number 11, described as, quote, “a unique example of designed communal equipment, urban (or street) furniture based on an extension system,” which can “meet a number of needs in our urban spaces.”

By the way, 90 percent of products on that list had been designed in Slovenia. A whole another story.

Aside from its logistical advantages, offering a temporary commercial space in the built environment, the Kiosk also eased the meshing of private initiative into the socialist system. Even its creation, in response to the real needs of the marketplace, and how it came to be manufactured and marketed at the designer’s impetus, were emblematic of its significance.

K67 was a product of its time, marked by state-driven market socialism and rapid development of a consumer economy. It was a unifying object, a single solution for multiple functions, universal enough in its design to find use across the world. It was adapted to the modern need to move people and stuff around, and it helped commercialize public space in urban settings.

“With its colours and presence, it made a profound impact on its surroundings,” writes historian Marta Rendla. “As urban street architecture set in the public space, it promoted the everyday activities of the street or everyday space.”

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: The Kiosk, it’s a place of pause in an urban setting, it’s a place where people met, where recipes were exchanged, where stories were made, where friendships were made, right, that it’s this neutral, neutral, small, kind of nomadic fun thing, right, that populated the streets.

PETER KORCHNAK: Dijana Handanović is an architect and architecture instructor at the University of Houston. She has restored a number of Kiosks and earlier this year exhibited one in Texas. More on that later on in the show.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: To me what’s really fascinating is that we have a period in Yugoslavia, which it’s very brutalist, right, like, it’s concrete, and all the architecture that’s coming up is there to stay and to show the power and he comes in with this kind of fun, flexible, modular, I-can-be-anything-you-want-me-to-be humanized-scale object that’s plopped on the streets. And it becomes this sensation in architecture, it transforms the streets of former Yugoslavia completely.

PETER KORCHNAK: The success of the Kiosk also inspired a number of copycats, least of all in Yugoslavia itself. Aleksandar Nikuljski in Macedonia created the KC190 by which was made by Treska Poliplast in Struga. I’ve spotted three specimens in central Skopje, as well as one in Bitola and in Zagreb, on Heinzelova Street (the Trade Fair there had its own kiosks).

Mächtig later transposed his systemic, street equipment design thinking into other products, most notably a trash can and public telephone booth (I’ve spotted some of the latter around the former Yugoslavia, in the China Pavillion building at the Zagreb Trade Fair and the Bosnian TV building in Sarajevo).

He continued working in the academic and exhibition spheres of Slovenian industrial design and architecture. In 1984 he received the honorary professorship at the University of Ljubljana. He co-founded the design studies department at the Academy of Fine Arts, and in 2017 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Slovenian Design Society. At the award ceremony, Association president, Jurij Dobrila, said Mächtig was a designer who, quote, “understands architecture and design and is aware of the fact that a single generation is too small for a society to experience the level of civilization.”

In 2021, Mächtig participated in a jury for the international design contest, “The Kiosk of the Future,” organized by the Slovenian architecture magazine, Outsider.

He is said to be working on K21, a new system of modular multi-purpose kiosk units, unveiled in February 2019 at an architecture exhibition in Ljubljana. The shapes are more round, reminiscent of cells or bubbles. Walls will serve as information panels and there will be solar panels up top. I’ve been unable to find much on this beyond a few, now dated photographs online, so it’s hard to say where things stand with K21.

Production of the K67 ceased in 1999-2000, after a court battle between Mächtig and Imgrad. I haven’t found much reliable information about it, so I won’t delve but it seems like the dispute had something to do with copyright, honorarium payments (or non-payments), and quality control. Or as the lefties would say, capitalism run amok.

When all was said and done, Mächtig said he never became rich off of the Kiosk. “Believe it or not, money wasn’t the priority at the time,” he told the Deutsche Welle. “We architects wanted to do something for the society we lived and believed in. And K67 was something good for the society.”

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[SOUNDBITE – “Galaksija z 80a” by Detective Spook]

PETER KORCHNAK: Beginning in the 1990s, the Kiosk began disappearing from the streets of ex-Yugoslav cities. Filković, the film director, noticed this with particular clarity in Croatia.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: During the 90s, we had war here, and in a matter of several years, these Kiosks just disappeared. Maybe they were old, but I don’t remember them being so old. I think that they were just replaced because they reminded people of Yugoslavia and it was something that the war was against that, you know, and the liberation from Yugoslavia, and all that shit. So it was like, they were just disappearing. All the places that I would see them several years ago, they would just disappear, and they would be like replaced by some new kiosks that would look metallic they would be ugly, square, simple. They had much more space in them, that’s for sure, but they just looked ugly.

On a symbolic level, I noticed that the Kiosks were being replaced by something very crudely designed. And also, we had this change of flag, so in me it kind of motivated the question, why did we change the design of the flag? Why is it ugly? Why do we, you know, like, throw away the Kiosks, because I really liked them. That was the catalyst of my love towards the Kiosks.

PETER KORCHNAK: It’s hard to say to what extent the Kiosks were removed or destroyed because they symbolized Yugoslavia or because they simply deteriorated during the wars due to neglect or because they were no longer suited to the new economic realities, including depopulation and, later, technological advances in retail.

What I do know is that a revival of sorts began a few years after the Kiosk’s production ended. It’s not quite the kind of comeback vinyl has made, but I’d include it in that same global retro trend. And it was part of the rise in yugonostalgia, itself part of the process of re-evaluating Yugoslavia, which really took off after the Great Recession.

“Nowadays, the Kiosk appears in various roles,” writes Marta Rendla. “As an icon of the 20th-century industrial design and a coveted collectors’ item; an artwork in museums and books; a decayed and abandoned object in the cities of South-Eastern Europe; a nostalgic memory of youth and socialism; a phenomenon and foundation for research and artistic projects; as well as a live organism capable of constant regeneration. The hybrid architectural and industrial design object has become a cult product and a part of the collective consciousness and memory.” End quote.

Academic literature has paid the Kiosk minimal attention. The opposite is the case for design publications. Photographers love the Kiosk. Particularly in the past decade plus, the Kiosk has been featured in architectural exhibitions, and various units have emerged in public spaces as art pieces or urban planning showcases.

I’d trace the precursor of the process to the late 1990s, when the American photographer and designer Troy Litten found K67s on his travels through Poland.

At about the same time, the Swedish artist Magnus Bartas began photographing Kiosks around the world. He collected the images in the series, “Satellites,” of, quote, “pioneer capitalism in communist Europe and flying objects with an uncertain destination.” The photographs of actual, individual Kiosks are presented against a black background, devoid of context, turned into aesthetic objects.

Bartas exhibited his photographs, among other places, in Pančevo in 2004 as well as in Zagreb in 2005 as part of an exhibition on contemporary Swedish art (a white kiosk was placed outside the venue there).

A decade later Jan Kempenaers’s photographs depicted Yugoslav-era monuments in similar, aesthetic-focused, decontextualized fashion.

An early effort to catalog the kiosks emerged in 2003. Over the ensuing period of two plus years, the German architect Helge Kuehnel mapped and photographed some 99 original and clone K67 kiosks in 10 countries, including Poland and two specimens in my native Slovakia.

The goal of the Kiosk Shots project was to, quote, “show how the public space in Eastern Europe is determined and linked by the K67 Kiosk design.” The project was exhibited in the Netherlands and Germany and got some design and architectural press between 2004 and 2006.

It wasn’t a complete list or map, of course, but that’s beside the point. It was the period when eight Central-Eastern European countries acceded to the European Union, and the underlying idea was to document the Kiosk’s contribution to Europe’s common history. The website is no longer functional but you can check out the archived version online.

In 2003, the Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč exhibited her installation, “Next Stop Kiosk” at the Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, in which she combined a number of K67 units with elements from South American stilt houses and Belgrade rooftop additions.

In 2007, the University of Weimar bought a Kiosk in Warsaw and repurposed it into an information stand in front of one of its buildings.

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About a decade ago, in the early twenty-tens, Filković, the film director, noticed on the internet an increased interest in the Kiosk, from press to social media.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: Just then I noticed that, you know, the appeal of the Kiosk is like worldwide. So it’s not just, you know, here in the Balkans that we are, like obsessed with it.

Some people here are obsessed with it, like me, and the others just want to see them wiped away, you know, because they don’t want to have anything to do with Kiosks because they remind them of Yugoslavia. And they’re afraid of Yugoslavia, I guess, I don’t know, I’m not.

PETER KORCHNAK: Perhaps not too afraid. As often happens, outside interest took a while to rouse attention in the former Yugoslavia. But it did happen.

In 2011, a 3D-printed scale model of the Kiosk, comprising seven units, was displayed in London, at the traveling exhibition, “Silent Revolution: Contemporary Design in Slovenia” as well as at design exhibitions in Eindoven and Milan.

Also at the exhibition was an interpretation of the Lačni Zmaj (or Hungry Dragon) Kiosk complex, which had been located at the Ljubljana castle at the turn of the 1980s. The Kiosks were rendered as a visualization for a fictional augmented reality app.

The models were the creation of Kaja Antlej as part of her doctoral dissertation on using 3D technologies in industrial design museum exhibitions. The idea was for the models to be used in museums as part of virtual reality environments. The visualization and photographs of the model are available at her website. Later she also made an experimental game where users can assemble their own Kiosk.

The first 3D virtual reality experience of a Kiosk, full with exterior and interior tours was then made in 2014.

As an aside, while she was working on her dissertation, Antlej discovered a K67 at the Mount Buller ski resort in Victoria, Australia, where it was used as a weather station. A dark blue had been painted over the original yellow and it was emblazoned with the resort’s logo. It was probably the only K67 ever imported to Australia, in 1990, to serve as a soup kitchen for skiers as well as a hut for race timers.

In early 2013, a restored K67 was installed at the Berlin Center for Art and Urbanistics, as quote, “a parasite structure forming an interface between [the Center] as a new cultural player and a freshly designed but still underused public park.” The Kiosk was a place where artists could test-drive their works and it also recorded sounds from its surroundings.

Also in 2013, the Kiosk made it to a Slovenian Post stamp, as part of the industrial design series. When the series was presented, the Post installed a Kiosk in the courtyard of the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana as a sales counter.

In 2015, Mächtig donated his archive to the Ljubljana-based Museum of Architecture and Design, which then held the retrospective “Saša J. Mächtig: Systems, Structures, Strategies.” The museum added the Kiosk to its permanent collection. In describing the Kiosk, the curator Maja Vardjan, an architect who became the Museum’s director earlier this year, said it was sustainable in many cities because it is, quote, “special by its position between architecture and industrial design, embededness in the framework of the modern city and society, the rituals of everyday life and…a persistent ability to reinvent itself. ”

Meanwhile in Serbia, Projekat 67 (Project 67) was a visual mapping project of the K67 initiated in 2015. An exhibition of its photographs by Aleksandar Zarić and Ivan Manojlović took place in Belgrade in 2017. The project’s Facebook page, Crveni Kiosk K67 / K67 Red Kiosk, last posted in 2018.

In the project description, art historian and Museum of Yugoslavia curator Ana Panić wrote that, the Kiosk had been, on the one hand, “superbly designed” and on the other, “today monstrously altered.” These alterations, which owners and operators of kiosks make to suit their needs, adding awnings, canopies, display cases, air conditioning units, umbrellas, stickers, and so on, and which often end up being garish as a result, show, according to Panić, “the regression that our society is undergoing contrasting with the modernization” the Kiosk accompanied and reinforced. While at its inception, the Kiosk “was recognized as a symbol of the faith in a better future,” writes Panić, “today, with its strange additions, it is a symbol of the post-transitional Serbia and its failed modernization.” The Kiosk went from “a symbol of orderliness, thoughtfulness, modernization, and good design to a symbol of unplanned urbanism, wild construction, and chaos.” The fading Kiosks “in the cities of Serbia still stand today as smallpox scars or as monuments to a decades-long, painful and long dying process.” The Kiosk has thus become “incredible, but also unnecessary, rejected, unwanted heritage.”

Meanwhile, in Germany, K67 Berlin is a project that aims, quote, “to track down historical K67 kiosks, renovate them and bring them back to city life.” They also offer restored Kiosks for rent or purchase. They’re the group behind placing in 2018 a yellow Kiosk in a Kreuzberg courtyard, where it hosts the Kioski cafe and snack bar, the city’s smallest restaurant.

The mastermind of the project, the designer Ruge von Loew said he, “wanted for people in this creative center of Europe to know about this phenomenal design.”

The same year, a kiosk was incorporated into the Beogradski Market, an indoor plaza, where it served both as a fast food joint and occasionally a DJ booth.

2018 was huge for the Kiosk. It truly exploded into global spotlight when the Museum of Modern Art in New York City hosted the exhibition Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, which introduced socialist Yugoslavia’s architects and architecture to international audiences. Check out Episode 38 for more on the exhibition. MoMA used a newly acquired Kiosk as a ticket booth for the exhibition.

BOJANA VIDEKANIĆ: The first thing that you saw at the exhibition was that famous kiosk, the newspaper stand.

PETER KORCHNAK: That’s Bojana Videkanić, performance artist, art historian, and assistant professor of fine arts at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, describing her experience at Toward the Concrete Utopia.

BOJANA VIDEKANIĆ: This is the most ubiquitous part of my childhood. Like literally, my friends and I used to hang out around those and when it was closed, you know, when it’s closing hours were done, we would sit on it, play games. So I, as I was going up the stairs at the MoMA, I started crying.

PETER KORCHNAK: MoMA’s Kiosk is now at a storage facility in Queens.

Following Toward the Concrete Utopia, in 2019, the Times Square District Management Association placed a red Kiosk on Broadway, between 45th and 46th Streets, as part of its Design Lab, an initiative that quote, “brings new ideas for public space onto the Broadway Plazas” and “embod[ies] New York’s creative spirit and provides unique solutions for an improved pedestrian experience in the destination that boasts [hundreds of thousands of] visitors a day.” The organization’s president said the purchase and permanent placement of the Kiosk resulted from the desire to, quote, “bring a bit of Europe to the new world, some beauty to a less beautiful place, and, if you like, some socialism to this centre of capitalism.”

The Kiosk served as an information hub for the design pavilion. Two years later, the Kiosk was temporarily transformed into a DJ booth during the Times Square Transmissions 2021 festival.

Recently the culturologist and friend of the show, Mitja Velikonja, was planning to host an exhibition of Yugoslav smells and fragrances there, but alas, that project has yet to materialize.

Meanwhile in Zurich, an exhibition at the local technical university titled “Metamorphoses of a System” displayed a restored second-generation Kiosk, now part of its collection, as part of a showcase of Mächtig’s work. The exhibition was based on the earlier retrospective in Ljubljana, also curated by Maja Vardjan, and also featuring exhibits on Mächtig’s holistic, interdisciplinary work, including research, concepts, testing, and marketing.

In 2020, a green Kiosk was installed at the edge of Vodnik Square in Ljubljana where a farmers’ market takes place. Both times I visited it earlier this year, the Kiosk stood spotless and empty, with remnants of signage suggesting it had served as a bubble tea bar. Nearby a milk vending machine drew looky-loos (I mean wow, you can buy milk from a machine?) and, more importantly, suggested the limits of utility for the humble Kiosk.

In 2021, the city of Koper, on the Slovenian coast, temporarily displayed a red Kiosk at a central square as part of its summer cultural programming. The creative collective Avtomatik Delovišče loaned the Kiosk from the Piran Coastal Galleries, where it’s been part of the permanent collection since the mid-2000s. With the “tactical urbanism” initiative display, the Kiosk was, quote, “given a new role of the design of new temporary space of experimentation in the public space.”

The same year, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage initiated a project in Novo mesto, Slovenia to restore the seven units of the K67 Kiosk that in the 1980s made up the bar called Slavček and to reopen the bar in a suitable location.

And, the city of Sisak, Croatia placed a Kiosk in the center, near the Mali Kaptol fortress, to serve as an information office.

Meanwhile, Filip Filković began working on his documentary about the Kiosk.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: I was in Istria, it’s a part of Croatia, during the summer, and I saw from my car a Kiosk in the middle of the field. It was a red Kiosk, it was a double Kiosk. I still have a perfect picture of that in my phone. I took the picture, and I got the idea that I should make a film about it.

So the first step was to find similar Kiosks that were abandoned and to find like the ones that are still in use.

So we went to Facebook, and we like made this very colorful picture and we said that we’re searching for them. A lot of the people came to us with the locations, they gave us the addresses, they gave us the photos, they gave us GPS coordinates. And it was kind of silly, because you know, we got in the first several months, we got about three thousand, 300, sorry, kiosks. It’s amazing. So then I decided, okay, so we have this on paper, why don’t we do a map.

So we did a Google appy map with all the kiosks that we got. Up until today, we got about 600 kiosks on that map. I mean, I guess that some of them are probably going to be you know, somebody’s gonna throw them away, so it’s not up to date,, it’s not final. But, you know, by following this map all over the Balkan[s], you know, like from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and so on, you can actually find most of them, you know. So yeah, that’s like something that the map is something that we used for our film.

PETER KORCHNAK: Upon its release, the map promises to be the most comprehensive catalog of the existing Kiosks.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: So yeah, [the] film was started about three years ago when when we shot the first Kiosks. We got the support from our National Fund in Croatia at the development stage. And that was really cool, because we could do some amazing test shots with that, you know, like interviews and stuff.

But [the] film kind of evolved over time. And this evolution of the film brought me to its current state, and the film is actually about Saša and his design. And it’s an introspective view of his— of the kiosks. So it’s going to be a very personal and emotional film from his perspective.

PETER KORCHNAK: About the revival of the Kiosk, Mächtig said it’s a confirmation of the universality of the Kiosk’s concept and a continuation of its early slogan, “one solution for all needs.”

At the 2022 Manifesta festival in Priština, the artist Ilir Dalipi displayed a restored yellow K67, one of the last in the city, at a central square as an installation titled, “Objectification of Senses.” He intended it to later become “a museum for everyday design objects, similarly rescued from oblivion.” Earlier this year I spotted the Kiosk put away on a concrete platform in the corner of the lot housing the Koha Ditore newspaper on George Bush Avenue. By the way, this was the same festival that saw the Monument of Brotherhood and Unity wrapped in purple foil.

Back in Ljubljana, in January this year a refurbished red newsstand Kiosk was placed outside the headquarters of the news publication Delo, the so-called Black Widow building.

[SOUNDBITE – “Galaksija z 80a” by Detective Spook]

PETER KORCHNAK: Last January, a pristine orange Kiosk centered the exhibition “K67 Kiosk: System for Urban Imagination” at the Blaffer Art Museum, in Texas.

For three months the installation served, quote, “as a landing place on the University of Houston campus to inspire students to look at their heritage and find similar representations in their culture and other cultures and encouraged us all to reimagine things in our communities and repurpose them into new concepts for gathering.” End quote.

The project was the brainchild of Dijana Handanović at the University of Houston. She hails from Ključ, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has been living in Houston since 2002. Handanović’s interest in the Kiosk has deep roots.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: I’m very much interested in the intersection of architecture, and identity and memory, and placemaking. And then, you know, being from the former Yugoslavia, and seeing kind of the aftermath after the dissolution, and especially the architecture’s role in making of Yugoslavia, but then also in breaking it up , and then what happens now, what is this new identity?

I always teach classes in the architecture school about how does architecture promote kind of a social network? How does it create memories, and, you know, it’s, it shouldn’t be just about the building, but there is much more power in architecture.

PETER KORCHNAK: The role of architecture in making and breaking Yugoslavia as both a physical and cultural space has been re-evaluated and highlighted in recent years.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: Yugoslavia was known to build a lot, and there were department stores, convention centers, all kinds of stuff that it was part of making it right, to show the collectiveness and the power of the country. And then especially when we look at the hundreds of monuments, they were very neutral in terms of in in their form, but yes, they were commemorating the victims and their role was also to unite the different ethnic groups that then existed and had to coexist in the country. So there was this kind of a forced ideology with it.

And I remember, in first grade, as everybody, I think, every first grader to field trips, we all went, we loaded up on the buses and with our little sandwich, and then we went and visited those memorials and monuments, and I remember a teacher getting up and talking to us. And I don’t remember what she said, but it was a very kind of, we’re all in this together. And there was this collective, right, so there was a pride being part of that.

Then during the war, so and during the war, like usually, or not, usually, it’s always that the destruction of architecture and especially specific, targeting specific architecture, it’s not about the architecture, it’s about the ideology that comes with it, right. It’s about the memory and identity of people, right. So if we destroy their house, we destroy their identity, their existence.

Architecture has that power, to show collectiveness and identity and to make spaces.

PETER KORCHNAK: It was in seeing the traces of war in public spaces around Bosnia and Herzegovina, the bullet holes and mortar craters, the ruins, the abandoned buildings, that Handanović asked herself what architecture can do to help reconstruct not just life in a postwar society but also the memories of what came before the war.

The Kiosk met the challenge.

“You can truly see that it occupied our streets in a very playful, adaptable, ‘I can be whatever you want me to be’ way,” Handanović told the Texas Architect magazine. “It didn’t have a forced ideology to it.” The Kiosk, she added, is “an unintentional monument.”

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: To me, the Kiosk is, from that area, from that time period, the Kiosk is actually what shows that neutrality and this common ground. I have never met anybody that says like, well, that means something else, or, you know, like that has anything negative.

And so the interest came through my research, but then also, it’s, you know, the design significance of it. And for me, personally, it’s like this nostalgic reminder, because I remember one, I read one on, on my way to school, and I would buy government stickers, and you know, like every other kid.

In 2020, I went on a quest. And I was like, Well, let me find one and just to learn from it. Because I couldn’t find enough material written on it, how it’s made, how it’s constructed, you know, like, really detail. And so I found one, and first I just wanted to learn from it, to take it completely apart, and then restore it, and see how this thing comes together? What is so special about it, because it is special.

I thought it’s going to be a three-week project, it’s now a three year three-year project, because I’ve acquired more Kiosks, and I’ve established a whole team to help me restore it.

PETER KORCHNAK: Things like this, and I’m thinking of this podcast as well, have a tendency to grow into something else, something bigger. Handanović’s quest first expanded into a class using the Kiosk as a catalyst for design. An the way Handanović puts it, an opportunity then presented itself to bring a Kiosk to the University of Houston campus, specifically its Blaffer Art Museum, and show it to the local community.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: So I was like, it could be so interesting to bring one and to introduce it in a in Houston, which is, you know, Houston has never seen one. And then see what happens. The director, Steven Matijcio, he was very excited about it and interested and then it just started from there. So we’re like, Okay, we have this idea, we want to do it, but I really didn’t know how. And it was a it was definitely a learning experience.

PETER KORCHNAK: Handanović ended up bringing three Kiosks to Houston from her home country.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: All of the Kiosks I found just by driving by and seeing it in somebody’s front yard, backyard, side of the street or something like that. And then, you know, I would try to inquire who it belongs to, and then or knock on people’s doors. And I found one that was next to a house in Bosnia, in Sanski Most and I just knocked at the door of the person and he used it as a tool shed or you know, kept tools or something in there. And I asked, I was like, Well, would you be interested in selling and he first was a little bit hesitant and then— That’s how I acquired the first one.

Every story, every person during my restoration, during the first restoration— We were kind of working on it outside first, and people would stop, like just random people would stop and be like, What are you doing? And I remember one that sold newspapers, and one that sold hotdogs, and everybody had kind of good, happy memory with it. It didn’t become kind of this thing, I like it or I don’t like it. It’s collectively seen as something that represents the people of the former Yugoslavia.

Another one I acquired, same kind of idea, but it was actually owned by a family who has a bakery business still, and they, before the war, they acquired a kiosk and they used this also as a bakery business, but then their business outgrew the Kiosk and the Kiosk they just kept it as a reminder from where they were coming from. So when they heard about what I’m planning to do and what my intentions are with the kiosk they agreed to sell it to me.

The third one, I found actually in Banja Luka, which was it was actually a friend of mine found it, but it was on a [sic] dumpster yard, and the people they would sit inside as like a little office or something, but— or they used to use it like that, so it was very neglected.

PETER KORCHNAK: A couple of years ago, you could buy on Njuškalo, a Croatian Craigslist, a derelict green Kiosk in Zagreb for 330 euros.

The price of a Kiosk depends on its state and composition.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: The first Kiosk, I think it was, I don’t even remember, maybe like, I paid $1,000, or something for it, it wasn’t anything— like I expected it to be more. And then I don’t even remember all the other ones because it just, it’s been a couple years now.

The restoration process, I would have to sit down and put everything together. The moving it over here, so just the ship, just the shipping, and that’s without the truck to get it to the ship to the port in Rijeka, without the transport in Houston, and any of that kind of stuff. It was about $15,000.

PETER KORCHNAK: Then another $4,000 for the move from the Houston port to the location plus taxes.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: I was lucky. I had some help from the university to ship it and to move it and then to actually put the exhibit together. So the Mitchell Center actually, they paid for part of that. And that helped a lot. But yeah, it was definitely a long process, costly process.

PETER KORCHNAK: Handanović opted to restore the kiosks in full in Europe and ship them as such.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: I didn’t realize what I was doing. Or I made a mistake in a sense that I had put all the sealant rubbers and all the parts together in Europe. And you know, taking that apart is a is a big hassle. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

PETER KORCHNAK: As she was moving the Kiosk from Bosnia to Texas, Handanović learned about Filković’s documentary project.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: The cool thing that happened with us posting on Facebook, is that the news spread, and people started to contact us, head on with, you know, like ideas, or their, or the photos of the kiosks that they have on their parking lots or in their garden or something, you know. So Dijana got in touch with us, and she told us that she’s going to bring three Kiosks from Bosnia to America, Houston, and that, she’s going to do some work on them, she’s going to fix them up.

So we kind of filmed the transport, from Bosnia to the US, preparing the kiosks, taking them down from the trucks, preparing them for the loading onto the boat, you know, and so on. So it was a fun experience, because we got to, I don’t know, be a part of her exhibition.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: We picked up the kiosk at the port, and I was driving behind the truck that drove the kiosk. And when I saw it, actually parked at the university, I, I was like, I cannot handle this, this is too much. I was overcome with all emotions possible, because it’s been such a long process and the damage and all those kinds of things.

So I did have this pressure first as a professor there, and this is part of my research, and then I have other people investing in this and helping me with this project. And, you know, what is the response going to be… so.

And the worst thing is that all of them got damaged on the ship. The orange one that I exhibited finally had the least amount of damage. So I was able to fix that just before the exhibit opened. So I shipped the red, a yellow, and an orange. But the red it’s the worst shape. It’s leaning, there’s there’s a lot of things that need to be fixed, and it’s broken. And I believe it’s a strap that was trapped on the container, broke it. And the yellow has significant damage as well. So they are right now in United States going through restoration again, I guess, or repair in this sense.

PETER KORCHNAK: That process is still ongoing but nearing completion.

In all, Hajdanović estimates the cost of buying, restoring, shipping, and installing each kiosk to be between 25 and 30 thousand dollars.

I did have an ulterior motive for asking the cost question.

Whenever my mother in law, who’s in California, sees a photo of one of these kiosks on my Instagram, she always says, you know, I want to make this into a tiny home. Bring me three of these or whatever or four of these and then let’s make into a tiny home somewhere on the compound. Which of course they could be used as that of course.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: Yes, yes. I have one that this kind of extended version, I don’t know what they’re called, but they seem stretched. So I acquired that one and I’m actually going to put it and make it into a kind of a tiny home in the woods, we have a little piece of land. Yeah. So that’s, that’s my next project.

PETER KORCHNAK: Good to know how much these things can be. And so I’m gonna have to squash my mother in law’s dreams.

PETER KORCHNAK: The Blaffer Art Museum is part of the University of Houston.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: The first idea was like, well, let’s move a kiosk over, and then have it for three months at the— So there is a courtyard that’s connected to the museum. And then we will do multiple kinds of collaborations with artists from the city, or international artists, but also students and faculty or departments at the university. And so that was the original idea. And that actually happened.

But when, when all of this started, I wanted to make sure that the kiosk is introduced and that people understand because, you know, I had to at some point to stop and be like, well, would a student or somebody, you know, just a Houston resident understand what this thing is, or would they just see it as a pretty object, like a fun object?

So I contacted the museum in Ljubljana, the Architecture Museum, because they have all the archive drawings. And I was working with Maja Vardjan, and she actually was super helpful. So they gave me their archive basically to choose from, to choose images…

So what we did, inside the Blaffer Art Museum— So I have curated, you know, a collection of drawings and images from the archive, just to show the history, I wrote [a] text about it as introduction.

PETER KORCHNAK: “More than just a kiosk more than a newspaper stand, more than a lottery stand, more than a flower shop, a ticket booth, or a post office, ….. . I am a stage – a place for stories to be exchanged. A daily ritual, A marriage between architecture and industrial design. But I am not a house, nor an object, I am a system for urban imagination. I was born in 1966 to an architect father, Saša Machtig, and my mother, Yugoslavia. In a few years, I grew from just two intersecting plastic pipes to a reinforced polyfiber body. I grew up in a time of unity, A time of striving for a better future for all, a time when architecture’s role was to be a symbol of collective pride and solidarity, a time when architecture was powerful, forceful, consistent, static. I was adaptable, flexible, limitless, nomadic, and playful. I could be anything you wanted me to be – free for urban imagination! For a while… Then the war broke out. After my country dissolved, many of my siblings found themselves on ongoing battlegrounds. They are afraid of those that vandalize them and dream of those who will refurbish them for new uses in a new world. Only a few of my 7,500 siblings remain, but those that do, continue to bring people together, create social networks, and create memories … So, let me re-introduce myself. I am a memory, I am hope, I am a place within a place, a daily ritual… even more than that I am a protagonist in the story of my home and all its people. I am the Kiosk K67.”

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: So that was my introduction to it,

PETER KORCHNAK: An aim of the installation of the Kiosk was to, quote, “bring it back to its former glory and create an exhibit that would not only highlight its historical and cultural significance but also serve as a place of unity and community building.”

1970s and 1980s music from the former Yugoslavia provided the soundtrack for the exhibition. And the segment from Filaković’s upcoming documentary about transporting the kiosk from Europe to Texas showed on a loop.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: So the idea was for the exhibit to really transform the visitor into the 70s and 80s of the former Yugoslavia, right.

We used the Kiosk actually as a bar stand. So the bartender was inside. So people got to interact with it as if buying something, they were served drinks from the Kiosk.

I think it was a very successful opening, much more successful than I thought it would be.

The gallery usually expects about 150 people at bigger openings, and we had over 400 people show up. It was very overwhelming in the most positive sense.

PETER KORCHNAK: In addition—

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: I created also 3D models of Kiosks that people then could put together and can and or take apart and compile differences. There are multiple on a on a large table laid out, so you can make your own arrangements of the Kiosk, right, it can be made into a little town or is it you know, two together or whatnot.

PETER KORCHNAK: The 3D models, in case you’re curious, aren’t available for sale, they were just a limited edition made for research and for the exhibition.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: My idea was that the Kiosk would be a place for collaborations to take place.

So I got a lot of interest in artists exhibiting in the kiosk and the a lot of collaborations came from it.

PETER KORCHNAK: Inside the Kiosk itself electronic soundscape works composed by 24 students from the music school reflected past uses of a K67.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: So it transformed the kiosk into a music box for some time.

And then it was used for by different foundations during specific days that they have, and then they would do events with it. And then the art school used it, architecture school, there was a lot of collaborations in that.

And then the final collaboration actually, from Bosnia, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the furniture manufacturer and design[er], Zanat. They actually came out and took over the kiosk, and they did a full-on exhibit inside, exhibiting their project. And then we did, and that was at the end of the three months. So we did a closing party with them.

I honestly, I didn’t know how I’m going to organize all of that. Because it’s, you know, there’s a lot of kind of administrative stuff that needs to happen.

But it definitely was better than I thought, because the response of the people was very open and happy. It ended up being published in multiple magazines, and photographed as this piece of history of Yugoslavia that came into this city, right, that has never seen this.

PETER KORCHNAK: The response from the local student, artist, and general community was positive.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: On one side, we have the students that have known about it, but now they actually seeing the object and can interact with it.

Then we have the Houston community that has never seen something like this, didn’t know anything about it…very positive outlook on everything.

And then to me, what was interesting, all the people from the former Yugoslavia that came.

You know, then I also heard from, you know, the American people that they loved hearing the language and the conversation around it, because it really became, again, this meeting point, this hub where friendships and connections were made.

So all in all, it was a stressful thing to do. But I’m happy I did it and super grateful for all the support and everything that I have received. And I think it was beautifully received in the in the community.

PETER KORCHNAK: A side note. The state of Texas is now host to two of the most iconic objects from the former Yugoslavia. The K67 Kiosks in Houston and the Augustinčić statue of Tito, in a private collection in Dallas.

Last July, Handanović installed another restored Kiosk in her hometown of Ključ. It may be the first refurbished kiosk to be installed in an urban space in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the war. “It was a very successful exhibit and its presence confirmed that the Kiosk K67 manifests a collective multi-ethnic identity,” Handanović wrote in an email.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: You know, Saša did something amazing and, you know, we as a community, as people from the former Yugoslavia, we really need to step up and take care of, what do we have left. I am not not necessarily a fan of reproducing it again or replicating it unless you’re doing it for educational reasons. But I do think that it can be used as inspiration for better design and to learn from it and to think about how design and architecture influences communities and impacts communities. And we can learn from it and then reapply it into something new.

PETER KORCHNAK: Handanović is in talks with a gallery in Los Angeles to bring the Kiosk there, and then another one in London. I’d love for the Kiosk to be a traveling exhibit and record a podcast episode in it.

Handanović has presented her research on the Kiosk at various conferences and has a book chapter coming out about it next year.

DIJANA HANDANOVIĆ: You know, I want to make sure that whatever it’s used for, it’s something that lets the Kiosk shine, and shows its history, not just an object.

PETER KORCHNAK: Her hope is for people from the former Yugoslavia living in the U.S. to continue meeting at the Kiosk and swapping their stories.

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[SOUNDBITE – “Galaksija z 80a” by Detective Spook]

PETER KORCHNAK: I met Mächtig in Ljubljana last June at a presentation on Yugoslav design organized by the Serbian Embassy. What an honor! Ever humble about his work, he agreed to come on the show. We attempted to make it happen over the past few months. But between with his busy schedule, filled with presentations, conferences, and assorted appearances all over Europe—the Kiosk really has become a big deal—and the challenges of distance and technology, we could not get it done in time.

Meanwhile, with additional international funding in the budget, Filković and his crew have been traveling and filming around the Balkans, including with Mächtig, and obtained rights to include period music in the documentary.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: And we are going to release the film in 2024.

PETER KORCHNAK: The plan is to first show the film at festivals. T-shirts, 3D-printed kiosk models (different from Handanović’s), and a book of photographs will be included in the promotion.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: We have a lot of pictures of them, just for the book, for example. But the thing is, we don’t just, you know, like how we approach the kiosks, we don’t just film a wide shot of the kiosk. We like film them inside, outside, with the drone, with the camera, with the wide lens, with the narrow lens. So like each time that we are near a kiosk, we took several hours to like film each one of them. So it’s not just you know, like one single shot of the kiosk, “Yeah, we have it, let’s go on.” It’s like a thorough, you know, like minutia, you know, like getting into the story of the kiosk and trying to like film it from every possible angle.

And each approach is different because one kiosk is set in the e forest, for example, one kiosk is set in somebody’s garden, one kiosk is set on a parking lot, one is, you know, like half missing.

So yeah, I mean, I got to see a lot of horrors, you know, like with these Kiosks, because some of them are really in bad shape. But then you see some of the Kiosks that are still in use, and they look perfect.

It’s really an emotional journey when you’re so attached to them.

PETER KORCHNAK: In the four months leading up to our conversation that I’d stayed in Zagreb, I had spotted but a single Kiosk, discarded at the edge of an industrial yard on Radnička cesta. So to see and touch and feel a working Kiosk in the very center of the city and record the interview there was quite special.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: I think that this one is here for a long time because it certainly looks like he was here for a long time. It used to be red, they painted silver because you know, silver matches the color of the concrete here. And I think that, you know, by painting them from their, the first color is you know, like the red color that associated everybody with this Yugo style, you know, they just want it to like erase it. So it’s kind of funny to see it’s silver. I mean, it looks good, but silver kind of— I mean you could see the dirt more prominently on silver. So in so it’s not my first choice for the color, but it’s, I don’t know, it’s kind of cool to see it still standing here.

Two people are actually working inside right now. They’re watching TV, I think, you know, listening to the radio. So it’s kind of funny to like be able to still see something like this in Croatia. I mean here in Croatia is really, really rare.

PETER KORCHNAK: So how many other kiosks are there in Zagreb, other than this one?

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: In Zagreb, we have, I think it’s about 15 to 20 kiosks, 10 of them are still in use. Every time that I would come up to, like one of these kiosks, and I would start up a conversation with the people working inside, they will always say, it’s hot in here, it’s smelly in here, it stinks. And then you would look at the pig sty that I have inside. It’s not stinky or smelly, because it’s like dated, it’s because of them because they didn’t take care of it. And you know, like, it’s hot in the kiosks, of course, it’s hot during the summer, because people tore down the trees that used to be like around the kiosks. Because back in Yugoslavia, you would have a tree next to the house or next to the kiosks, to like, have the shadow. And like all of a sudden, we tore down all the trees because of the aesthetics, I don’t know. And people realized, oh shit, it’s kind of warm now, you know, it’s kind of sweaty, and he’s like a sauna in the kiosk. So a lot of the modern K67 Kiosks that I saw, especially like in Sisak, for example, the city that was kind of devastated by this earthquake that we had several years back, they actually remodeled several of old kiosks and they put the AC units inside, so it’s kind of a cool inside.

PETER KORCHNAK: People working in these kiosks were very friendly and very jovial and stuff like that. So if we talk to the gentleman in this particular kiosk here, that’s a parking lot guard house, what do you think that would happen?

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: I talked to somebody here, a year ago. He was kind of skeptical of what we were doing. And he like had to call his boss like asking for the permission.

People that usually work in Croatia and these kind of places, they don’t really trust people because you know, like we’re young, we look you know, like—

PETER KORCHNAK: Spies?

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: Yeah, like, you look like a spy. I look like a young filmmaker, just you know, like, student or something, I don’t know. So like, they’re always like, you know, are they trying to like, you know, shoot some porn here? I don’t know. I don’t know because they’re really untrustworthy. Like people outside of city are much more trusting to us because we come there with the cameras, with the van and stuff you know, and then they see us and then they’re like, yeah, it’s been sitting here for like, years, yeah, sure. you can film it maybe you can, you know, do like something with it. But people in like Zagreb, in all the bigger cities are kind of afraid of the cameras because whenever there’s a camera we must be you know, like digging some past up or something.

PETER KORCHNAK: When I walked in I, you know, I looked around and took a photo and the gentleman who was kind of like, Oh, what are you doing, but didn’t really care.

FILIP FILKOVIĆ: People don’t even understand how much they are, from a cultural standpoint, how much they’re like, involved with these kiosks, because although they haven’t seen them on the streets for like 20 to 30 years, whenever they see them, their face changes expression, because it kind of reminds them of the simpler time. And that’s why I believe that, you know, like when we posted several images that we were searching for kiosks on Facebook, people were like, “Ah, yeah, I remember that now,” you know.

In like, the collective mind of like all the people in Croatia, in the Balkans in general, these kiosks hold something special. And I really hope that, beyond the borders of [the] Balkan[s], people also notice— I mean, you came all the way here, you know, like, enthusiast for everything related to those past times, you know, and the design and everything and stories and the architecture.

I really do believe that, you know, like, once we finish the film, and we do it in this really an emotional kind of way that people are going to pay attention.

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[BACKGROUND MUSIC – “Galaksija z 80a” by Detective Spook]

PETER KORCHNAK: When people complain every American city looks the same, with the McDonald’s and the Burger Kings, the Walmarts and the Targets, the Home Depots and the Lowe’s, the Starbucks and the Peet’s making city after city indistinguishable from each other in certain parts, I see something else: unity. If cities look like this, you’re still in the United States.

In that sense, the K67 Kiosk fulfilled a similar role, way back when, way back where. If you saw the Kiosk in village and town and city after village and town and city, you knew you were in Yugoslavia. The Kiosk was a visual and visceral reminder of the country and its unique blended economic and political system.

Today, whether it’s the original functional Kiosks in Nova Gradiška, Kragujevac, Novi Sad, Sisak, Trebinje, or Zagreb, or refurbished ones in Belgrade, Ljubljana, or soon Novo mesto; or the dead ones in Brčko, Kladanj, Novi Grad, Rača, or Tuzla; or art and museum pieces in Dubrovnik, Ključ, Piran, or Priština, you know you’re in the former Yugoslavia.

Berlin, Houston, Melbourne, New York, Tokyo…around the world the Kiosk keeps the memory of the former country alive as well.

Whenever I spot one on my travels across the region, I dutifully pause, document it with dozens of photos, and reflect on all that was created and all that was lost, all that I did not experience and all that I see only as a three-dimensional representation. I’ve never bought anything in a K67 but, thanks to the labors of so many, perhaps I will in the future.

And perhaps we’ll meet there and chat, strangers united and made friends for a while over a piece of plastic and memories.

[BACKGROUND MUSIC – “Rainmaker” by Petar Alargić]

PETER KORCHNAK: Next on Remembering Yugoslavia:

ISKRA VUKŠIĆ: More people started brewing rakija after the war. In a crisis, sometimes the craft comes back, the tradition comes back out of necessity.

PETER KORCHNAK: The holiday season is upon us, let’s celebrate with a quintessential Balkan spirit. The centerpiece of the annual culinary episode will be rakija. Opa! Plus tons of music and a surprise celebrity appearance.

Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts, follow to make sure you don’t miss out, and subscribe to support us.

[OUTRO MUSIC – “Jugoslavijo / Od Vardara pa do Triglava” by Horn Orchestra]

PETER KORCHNAK: That’s all for this episode of Remembering Yugoslavia, thank you for listening. Find additional information, photographs, embeds, sources, and the transcript of this episode at RememberingYugoslavia.com/Podcast.

I do hope you enjoyed the episode. I also hope that, before you move on, you will consider taking action and supporting the creation of future episodes like this one. The stories, the research, the reporting on the Remembering Yugoslavia podcast are only possible thanks to your generosity. Step up to the virtual counter at RememberingYugoslavia.com/Donate and donate to support us.

Outro music courtesy of Robert Petrić. Additional music courtesy of Detective Spook – thank you!

The track “Rainmaker” by Petar Alargić licensed under Creative Commons.

I am Peter Korchňak.

Adijo!

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Additional Sources

  • Panić, Ana. “Kiosk K67 ali blišč in beda nekega razvojnega preboja.” In: Tanja Petrović in Jernej Mlekuž, eds. Made in YU 2015. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC SAZU, 2019
  • Rendla, Marta. “Urban Street Architecture, the K67 KIOSK: a Single Solution for All Problems.” Prispevki za novejšo zgodovino LXIII – 1/2023
  • Vardjan, Maja. “Digital Heritage Interpretation of Modernist Modular Architecture: The K67 Kiosk.” In: Christiana Bartolomei et al, eds. Digital Modernism Heritage Lexicon. Berlin: Springer, 2022