Contemporary Czech Design in the Centre of Prague

As a prelude to the planned opening of the ZIBA Museum of Modern Glass the former Trade Bank on Na Příkopě is currently occupied by glass designers and UMPRUM students until the end of June 2015. Split into four groups, each inhabiting one retail unit, the range of work on show continues the story of glassmaking in Bohemia dating back to mediaeval times and maintains a revival of the industry after recent factory closures.

Due to its practical nature glass often falls between the aesthetic and domestic and its background in industry leads it more towards design expositions rather than art gallery collections. Similarly, the environment in which it’s produced and the equipment required makes it a medium less readily accessible to students than painting or photography. Nonetheless, the history of glassmaking is so embedded in Bohemian culture that it will always remain a popular material and the display presents an interesting collection of contemporary works.

The first unit hosts an excellent collection of work by the Manifest Glass Studio from UMPRUM (Academy of Arts Architecture & Design in Prague). As you might expect from art-school students many of their pieces are loaded with humour, but there is also a very high degree of creativity and craftsmanship; a strong relationship with purely visual arts is clearly evident.

The next area houses the BOMMA brand with its collection of new products introduced for the Maison et Objet trade fair in Paris. The pieces here are more refined and certainly more commercial in nature, but they maintain a nice balance between function and design with sets available to buy from a range of well-known designers including František Vízner and Rony Plesl.

Another commercial studio, with a lighter edge than BOMMA, is DECHEM by Jakub Janďourek and Michaela Tomišková. A relatively young brand, this was established in 2012 and last year won the Czech Grand Design award. They have already participated in several European design shows presenting bespoke series for interior design and lighting; of particular interest are their Glass Town and Antimatter ranges as well as a successful commission based on laboratory items.

The final unit, Made in Bor, is perhaps the most dramatic and showcases four designers from the famous glassmaking region of Nový Bor. The items here are striking interior design pieces including some impressive chandeliers and sculptures, all unique both in concept and manufacture. The designers represented are Jitka Skuhravá, Jiří Pačinek, Filip Houdek, and Lukáš Houdek.

As an overview of contemporary glassmaking in the Czech Republic this event works nicely. From the purely aesthetic objects through to the more practical ones it provides an interesting view of a medium that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. The contrast between the student work and the more saleable studio pieces illustrates the whole creative process very well with the raw visual pieces, the ideas, being refined and taken a step further into the commercial world. This is a completely free event, with many of the designers on hand to talk to you about their work, so take advantage of it while you can. The event runs until the end of June.

Na Příkopě 858/20
Prague 1

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