These days, the discerning shopper often looks for a direct connection with the maker behind unique handmade goods, crafted with love and care. We asked managing director Zsófia Vári to talk to us a bit about WAMP, Budapest’s cool monthly design market which has helped boost the career of many young talents in the design scene, and what it has to offer.

From its early days as a small local market, WAMP has grown over the last decade to become an internationally recognised and respected platform for designers. Can you describe the market for those who aren’t familiar?

WAMP was founded in 2006 and it is now the biggest and the most well-known design fair in Hungary. The main objective of WAMP has always been to support Hungarian fashion and design as well as to enhance visual culture while promoting Hungarian design products. It intends to initiate dialogue between the designers, the public and the commercial sector. By now more than 1000 designers are connected to WAMP: fashion designers, jewellers, leather artists, ceramists, artists of fine arts and other creative fields present their work at our fair. We had more international collaborations throughout these years, we presented Hungarian designers in Helsinki and Bratislava, and collaborated with designers from the neighbouring countries. Since 2014 WAMP has been regularly organising fairs in Vienna too, where designers from the whole Middle-European region present their work.

Tell us everything we should know about the upcoming markets, in Budapest and elsewhere.

Our biggest events of the year are yet to come. We have just been over a fair at Design Week Budapest, and now we are busily preparing for our season closing market in Vienna at 7th October. After that we will have four more fairs this year including our Christmas events, where more than 300 designers will be present. We also have something big for the design fans in the UK, as at 18 November we are going to take part at the event ReThink Hungary in London, organised by the Hungarian Cultural Centre, where among others, 30 highly talented Hungarian designers will introduce their brands.

What are some of the ways in which you assist your designers?

WAMP offers a marketing and sales platform for talented designers both in Hungary and abroad. We intensely promote their labels and help them to find their audience which is very important especially for starting brands and designers. With the help of Visegrad Fund we organised more international events, where designers from Poland Czech Republic, Slovakia could introduce their brands in Hungary and in Vienna. We have also organized workshops where designers could acquire marketing and sales skills necessary for their brand management. Beyond that we collaborate with schools and design universities such as Moholy- Nagy University of Art and Design and provide their students opportunity to get real firsthand experience of selling their products at our fair.

Many of your exhibitors offer products that are recycled, organic or ethical. Why do you think this niche is becoming such a big part of the design scene in Budapest?

As urban lifestyle grows, the need for slowing down has become just as equally important. It is a global trend now that becomes more and more significant in Hungary as well. We have now more alternatives to fast fashion, and consumers have become a lot more conscious regarding their lifestyle and consumption. For them it is important that the clothes they wear and the items they use are not only stylish but are produced in ethical and fair conditions and with more environmental friendly techniques. This global trend has also become relevant in Hungary however it still has a long way to go. Fair fashion is obviously more expensive than fast fashion, so not that many people can afford it yet.

What kind of collaborations with other design initiatives do you see happening in the future?

Our next big project will be with the Hungarian Cultural Centre in London at 18 November, where 30 talented Hungarian designers will present their work. For the next year we intend to develop more international collaborations both in Vienna, and further abroad.

By Fiona Feeney