On the Couch with Anita Gigi Budai

Anita Gigi Budai AAR On the CouchWho is Anita Gigi Budai?
Anita Gigi Budai is a creative producer and environmental designer. I am a story teller using space as my manuscript and art and artefacts as the characters in my novel. I love being a creative, designing spaces and environments for public consumption. My favourite projects to date include David Bowie Is, Hollywood Costumes and Velvet Iron Ashes – which about to open at State Library Victoria (I’m particularly proud of what we have achieved).

What would you do differently to what you do now?
More holidays and down time – work life balance is a constant challenge in the design world.

Who inspires you and why?
Strong women: designers Eileen Grey and Charlotte Perriand for their design genius, Naomi Milgrom and Natalie King who I worked with on the Venice Biennale for their unending energy, knowledge and talents. I also must give a nod to the late Alexander McQueen whose fashion genius and brilliance for the spectacle is sorely missed.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
For me I am conscious of mentoring the next generation, particularly women. I worked in fashion and event management on large scale dance parties until I discovered that someone had to design exhibitions! I had mentors along the way; the process took a lot of hard work and taking a lot of different paths. If I can help someone find that path and help them a little on the way – then I feel I have achieved something genuine and rewarding.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Venice, Italy – I fortunately spent a month in Venice installing the 2017 Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale as the first exhibition designer. My favorite occupation is being a flaneur; wandering the streets in discovery of what might be behind a door or a façade and Venice delivered just that. I would visit Venice at the drop of a hat: to the Olivetti store (swoon) and Caffè Florian in Piazza San Marco, to the local eateries and bars and the wonderful history and patina of the city. For me it is if I am in Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Melbourne’s laneways, rooftop bars, the back bar of Cicciolina and the penguins at the end of St Kilda Pier. I love Melbourne’s hidden treasures (I think there’s a theme here as a flaneur!) and St Kilda is my home, so I love to show it off to visitors.

What are you currently reading?
Bvlgari: The Story, The Dream – a rather large catalogue from the current exhibition in Rome. I am obsessed with designers and their inspiration. The catalogue answers my questions about craftsmanship, inspiration and its mythological status.

What are you currently listening to?
Nick Cave on repeat – he is the soundtrack to my life.

Happiness is?
Those moments when something brings me to tears for its beauty: my most two memorable moments were the Rothko room at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault at the Louvre Museum.

What does the future hold for you?
Always change! As an independent designer I work on such varying projects from all over the world – the direction – incorporating more technologies into design in a thoughtful and experiential way.

Anita is the Exhibition Designer of State Library Victoria’s new exhibition, Velvet, Iron, Ashes, which opens 24 October 2019. For more information, visit: www.slv.vic.gov.au for details.

Image: Anita Gigi Budai (supplied)