Discover Stunning Czech Design
24 August, 2015
At certain times in the 20th century, Prague took on a leading role as one of the major design production centres in Europe. During the Art Nouveau period, it was among the leaders, together with Vienna, Brussels and Barcelona. Now, the Prague design scene is again emerging on an international level. We went there to take a look at what’s been happening of late.
On our arrival in the capital of the Czech Republic, we decided that the best way of discovering the trends in Czech design over the last few years was to visit The Museum of Decorative Arts, a beacon for enthusiasts of the arts and applied design. However, we found that the museum was closed for renovations and will only re-open to the public in 2017. Instead of feeling disappointed, we took the setback as a more stimulating challenge and set about unearthing less well-known places associated with the past and present of Czech design. Just opposite the Museum stands the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, whose students are destined to influence the future course of design, architecture, fashion, jewellery, graphic arts and the fine arts. Apart from presenting the work of its students and graduates, some of the Academy exhibitions are contextualised in terms of references from the past and present.
From Cubism to the Influence of the Brussels School
There are still many sites from that period on display. The Czech Republic – or Czechoslovakia, as it was then known – was a hub of multi-cultural design during the two World Wars. Even prior to World War I, the Czech Cubist movement played a vital role and creators such as Josef Gočár, Pavel Janák and Vlastislav Hofman designed unique works of architecture, furniture and ceramics. The furniture which Jindřich Halabala began to design for the United Arts and Crafts Manufacturing Plant between the wars influenced several generations. For further details of the key players in the design field during the interwar period, there is a publication entitled “Czech 100 Design Icons”. But, we also recommend having a look at the stores Modernista and Kubista, where you will find a wide variety of replicas from that period.
Czech design also came to the fore in the 1950s and 1960s, making itself felt on the international scene, particularly at the Brussels World Fair of 1958, while eight years later its consolidation earned widespread recognition in the film, Czechoslovak New Wave.It was not, however, until democracy was restored in 1989 that the following resurgence of Czech design occurred.
New Age of Splendour – Studios and Shops
Events unfolded apace after the return of democracy to the country. Thus, in the nineties, design flourished in the Czech Republic. A host of stores, designers and architectural and design studios emerged, notably Olgoj Chorchoj, Studio Najbrt and Maxim Velčovský, which continue to play a decisive role. At the same time, the design world continues to be augmented by young, upcoming talent provided by the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, which organises the Great Design Prizes competition each year.
On the contrary, fashion designers have been late in catching the wave. While in the nineties and the early years of this century they were practically nowhere to be seen, nowadays there are some stores of note. These are Timur et Grupo, Sister Conspiracy, Hana Havelková, Klára Nademlýnská, Denisa Nová and Liběna Rochová, to name but a few.
The 17th international Designblok exhibition, with “Freedom” as the theme, will take place in October this year. The event is aimed at both the professional sector and the public at large and will be given over to design from a broad perspective, ranging from fashion to furniture design, to jewellery, home accessories, product design, lighting, etc. Also to be featured there are installations of a character halfway between design and the plastic arts.
While Designblok holds its presentations in upmarket establishments, the Dyzajn market focuses on the sale of original creations. Here, the leitmotif is the open-air format. But, if you’d like to see it, you’ll have to wait until next year, as it is held on the first two days of August. This year’s location was Střelecký Ostrov. Lastly, the next DesignSUPERMARKET is scheduled for this December and will be hosted in Kafka’s House. These three events provide an opportunity to see the exhibitions and also to make design purchases.
Prague design is waiting to be discovered. Check out our flights here.
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
Images by Wendy, Kubista, Academia de las Artes, Arquitectura y Diseño de Praga, Museo de Artes Decorativas de Praga
24 August, 2015