With the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York having a major show on Yugoslav architecture (Toward a Concrete Utopia), it’s perhaps time to turn the spotlight on a smaller, less preserved and celebrated artefact from the years before the non-aligned federation’s dissolution, and one that MoMA also has in its collection. A design classic that can still be spotted around the region, albeit often in a state of neglect – the K67 kiosk.
A K67 in its glory days, at one end of Plečnik's arcades. Photo: Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page
In sad neglect. Photo: Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page
The K67 was designed in 1966 by the then young Slovenian architect Saša Janez Mächtig (b. 1941, Ljubljana), a former student of Edvard Ravnikar, and put into mass production in various colours two years later. It was made of reinforced polyfibre, steel, and glass, and was intended as to be used as part of modular structures – as seen in some of these photographs – as well as for temporary events. While they stopped being produced shortly after Slovenian independence many still remain in use around Eastern Europe, although more have disappeared, and others sit abandoned, waiting to be rediscovered by urban explorers.
A rare large version of the K67 kiosk in Labin, Croatia. Photo: Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page
Modularity on show at Ljubljana Train Station. Photo: Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page, Saşo Niskaç
In addition to the Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page, from which these images are taken (with kind permission), another great resource for fans of the K67 is The Kiosk Shots website, which exists in a couple of versions. This encourages people to send in photographs of K67 in the wild, along with their locations, and thus provides a map showing their spread and current use, with 78 original kiosks and 21 clones now mapped in 10 countries. The greatest number of kiosks on the site – 32 – are in Slovenia, followed by Poland (20) and Serbia / Montenegro (19). In Slovenia most of the K67 are in Ljubljana, and those wanting a cheat sheet to hunt them down can find that here, while the site also has a more academic history of the kiosks here.
Sill in use. Photo: Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page
A lost future. Photo: Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page
Although the K67 long ago passed from mass production into half-memory and myth, Mächtig continued to thrive, becoming, amonth other things, one of the founders of Design Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, at the University of Ljubljana, and in 2016 was hiswork was the focus of a retrospective at the city’s Museum of Architecture and Design (Muzej za arhitekturo in oblikovanje, MAO), Saša J. Maechtig: Systems, Structures, Strategies.
With optional skylight. Photo: Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page
Rather well disguised. Photo: Crveni kiosk K67/ K67 Red Kiosk Facebook page
So keep your eyes open as you move around, alert to the urban environment, and you might find a Slovenian design classic in the corner of a parking lot, used to sell refreshments in a park, or neglected on an unused plot of land. The K67, a real hidden gem.