Zita Katona is a Hungarian-born designer based in Scotland, mixing her background in graphic and textile design to create unique products, designs and research.
We love her detailed, artistic work so we invited her to have a wee interview and find out more about her creative practice in Edinburgh and her brand, zitozza.
Tell us about yourself and your creative background?
I'm Zita and I'm a graphic and textile designer, founder of zitozza, a sustainable homewares brand which I founded after a decade of a sort of zig-zagging career between graphic and textile design. I've always looked for ways to unite the two skills, looking for patterns in graphic design and graphic language in textiles. Then 2020 came, when - like many of us - I had all of a sudden a lot of time to work on long-held dream projects. I decided to expand on my graphic experiments with sustainable textiles - the result became zitozza, which is aimed for the design-conscious dweller offering modern and sustainable interior decor in the form of block-printed homewares (mainly lampshades, rugs and cushions at the moment), with bold patterns on eco-conscious textiles.
Can you give us an insight into your practice and what you do?
I make everything by hand, and I print everything by hand too, one by one, with my uniform printing blocks. Zitozza has a modular system of printing blocks that are largely the same size so they are interchangeable into infinite combinations and fully customisable, unique designs. It is very time-consuming to print this way but the results are really worth it.
I have two main collections into which I sort my printing blocks, a "modern" one - this is mostly inspired by architecture and built form, as I'm obsessed with brutalism and modernist architecture. I'm from Hungary originally and I grew up being surrounded by a lot of suburban housing and industrial settings and I've always found them beautiful and interesting. But I know this is a bit of an acquired taste so I have one which I call "heritage" and this is based more on the traditional, more botanical motifs found in old textiles. The modular geometry applies still, almost all my blocks are uniform so it's a lot of fun to make up new patterns all the time and there's of course infinite ways to customise for bespoke projects too.
Do you have any exciting projects or events you’re proud of on the horizon?
I'm going to launch my kitchen line later in the spring - with tea towels and table cloths. And printed wall-hangings are coming soon too, look out for it on my website (www.zitozza.com)
I started this business using jute only, because it's such a sustainable fibre. Growing it doesn't require too many pesticides or irrigation, it's carbon-positive, grows really fast and adds nutrients to the soil, so it's got a lot of benefits - and the coarse texture also fits my brutalist aesthetic of course. But it's obviously not local to Scotland and it has it limits in everyday use as it is a bit too fibrous and tends to be openly woven - so it's not that suitable for certain projects.
I'm very happy to have found some recycled linens, and even some with cotton and recycled polyester blends - these will help my print appear on more durable surfaces such as teatowels and upholstery fabrics, while retaining the all-important sustainable qualities. I really look forward to making all the new products made of these!
What makes Edinburgh a good base for creatives?
Well it is the capital city, so it's always got something exciting and inspiring happening. It is very unique though, I think, in its image as a particularly cultural destination. I'm sure a lot of it comes from the festival, and while I don't know much about performing arts, the buzz and this whole reputation does certainly soak into other parts of the creative industry. For creatives it makes sense to be based in Edinburgh because you want to be part of that circulation. You don't want to miss the art and the events, you want to surround yourself with other creatives and be able to exchange ideas.
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing a career in the creative industries?
I would say the most important thing is to make connections and not just learn about what and who is out there already, but approach people and make friends. I'm still not very good at this myself because I'm quite awkward and my work is too time-consuming to be able to put too much time and effort into it, but if you do everything on your own, your head fills up with your own thoughts and it becomes hard to get out of it when you need to. Creatives are a friendly bunch so it can be a really important to reach out to others - to collaborate or just for a friendly advice. You can always learn from others and you never know what opportunities might open.
What made you want to join Creative Edinburgh as a member?
I'm also just learning to make these connections - as I mentioned, my business is a "lockdown baby" so I haven't really had a chance yet to get it out there as much as I wanted it to, but I do want to connect. I'm actually based in Fife, just across the bridge - there aren't big cities here, I'm neither in Edinburgh, Perth or Dundee, and as a foreigner it's even harder to define where I "belong" - I don't like using this word at all and it's not something I like thinking about because it's not that important. After all, if all these hubs are close enough to me then why not soak up as much of the creative buzz as possible.