“I’m fomo-phobic,” says Ana Kraš, composing herself on a couch in a SoHo café (for those unacquainted with the acronym, that’s fear of missing out). The designer, 30, describes herself as proudly anti-party, anti-nightlife, almost, terrifyingly, anti-New York. “I don’t think I’m even using the fact that I’m in New York at all,” she says. “I could do the same work in Belgrade or L.A.” Could and has: born and educated in Serbia, Kraš moved east from California three years ago, and her creations—like the playful bonbon lampshades that stole the show at last year’s “NYC Makers” biennial at the Museum of Arts and Design—display a penchant for simplicity and off-the-cuff inspiration that doesn’t seem tied to any fixed point, cultural or geographical. “It sounds terribly selfish,” she admits, “but a lot of the work I make is really about me having fun.”
It’s a pursuit she seems better able to achieve on her own than as part of the madding crowd. Drawing, in particular, has become an integral part of her cheerily solipsistic practice, with her semi-abstract sketches getting a public viewing last summer at the Ed. Varie gallery in the East Village. Still, Kraš is no shut-in. Alongside her very private studio work, she’s also kept busy as a photographer and illustrator.
This level of activity, combined with her retiring habits, might account for the spitfire style of her work—”I don’t make design statements,” she says, “just words, short sentences,” the kind of ideas that can be tossed off in a stolen moment of solitude. Next on the agenda: a trip to Haiti to work with local artisans on designs that draw on traditional craft and materials, and then a series of tables, created by Kraš in collaboration with downtown retailer-manufacturer Matter, set to debut at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York this spring. All of which only proves that this loner can still play well with others. “People,” she says. “That’s my second favorite thing in the world.”