Rediscovering the Magyar Magic (event archive)

October 12, 2011 by  

Our event showcased successful entrepreneurs who promote Hungarian cultural heritage while adapting to the marketing needs of our times. Turn-of-the-century apartments redesigned, hundred-year-old recipes rediscovered, fashion trends reimagined, and folk rhymes reinterpreted. A discussion about how Hungarian cultural brands are competitive and “in” again.

Our guests were:

Katalin Pintér, director – Gerbeaud,
Szandra Sándor, fashion designer – Nanushka,
Sándor Román, director and choreographer – Experidance
William Clothier, entrepreneur –  Brody House

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The word ‘magic’ carries connotations of mysteriousness, intangibility and even elusiveness, yet this event brought a clear message home: the Magyar Magic is not an illusion, it is rather a special touch that can be discovered and understood.

Regardless of the panelists’ own field – be it cuisine, fashion design, interior design or choreography – they all face the same unique challenge. They have to cater to contemporary consumer demands home and abroad while preserving the rich heritage of Hungarian culture. The task requires finding a delicate balance between obsoleteness and empty worshiping of current trends.

It is true that being situated in Hungary can be a disadvantage from a purely geographical and financial point of view but the country has the potential to become a real cultural hub. The aim for Budapest should not be the emulation of metropolises like London or New York but the cultivation of its own authentic image. Thus the Magyar magic is Hungary’s niche in the cultural market. Hungary’s vast historical riches provide constant inspiration to native and foreign artists alike, who are willing to take a deeper look into the past.

Whether we talk about Gerbaud’s revamped traditional recipes (coupled with the finest culinary technologies), Nanushka’s clever and subtle use of Hungarian cultural references in its clothing line, the mixture of contemporary and folk dance elements in Experidance’s choreographies or the century old, Budapest downtown apartments refurbished by Brody House with old, discarded furniture, it is clear that past traditions have lived on in many meaningful ways.

Nonetheless, creative vigor has to be supported by expertise and perseverance if one wishes to succeed in today’s highly competitive business world. Hungarian artists and entrepreneurs must prove the first-rate quality of their products first before they can fully realize the potential of the Magyar magic.

The current tough economic environment bestows even greater responsibility on governments to create business-friendly regulatory frameworks. In this respect, Hungary seems to lag behind as evidenced by the significant number of start-ups that are forced out of business or out of the country due to elaborate regulations and excessive taxation. Even this panel of highly successful entrepreneurs has admitted to facing hardships in the financial department.

However, the panelists have all managed to build up their own renowned businesses in spite of the unfavorable turns of the economy, reduced purchasing power of consumers and regulatory burdens. They have created reputable brands with the help of individual ingenuity, business-savvy attitude, stubbornness and quite a bit of Magyar magic. Striking a compromise between cultural relevance and reverence for the past may not be an easy task but all the more worthwhile for those who thrive not only for great quality but also for true meaning.

Summary by Zsófi Göde

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