For nearly ten years, the company Nanovo has been buying, renovating and re-selling design items from Czechoslovakia’s Communist era, from home décor to furniture. I visited the company’s warehouse in Prague’s Vysočany district to meet its two owners, Jirka Mrázek and Adam Karásek and I first asked them if it was still easy these days to come across original pieces from communist Czechoslovakia:
A Czech design student has come up with a custom set of 180 emojis that depict various aspects of Czech life and humour. Within a week of being shared on social media, the designs, fittingly called “Czemoji”, have garnered much attention from the media as well as the wider public. She now plans on making them publicly available for use on digital platforms.
Fashion designer Rosalie Kladošová took the top award in the annual Czech
Grand Design competition on Wednesday evening, for her collection called
Merino Recycle, using textiles made of recycled wool. She also clinched the
top prize in the fashion category.
This year’s nine winners also include Lucie Koldová, who won the prize for Designer of the Year for her Chips Chair, a lounge chair resembling a potato chip made for the furniture brand Ton. Artist Janja Prokic took the award for her collection of jewellery inspired by Papua New Guinea.
After a break of nearly 50 years, the Czech Republic will be participating in the Milan Triennial, a prestigious international showcase for contemporary artists and designers. The Czech Republic will be represented by two works of art, Out of Power Tower by Krištof Kintera and Lithopy by Denisa Kera, which explore the theme of energy wastage and mocks the current craze for cryptocurrencies.
Newlyweds Zika and Lida Ascher left Prague in early 1939 for the UK. There Zika Ascher launched a silk business that was soon thriving – and began approaching top artists, including Matisse and Henry Moore, to produce designs for a special collection of scarves, the Ascher Squares. Many of them, and other exquisite pieces produced by the company, have just gone on show as part of extensive exhibition here in the Czech capital. Shortly before it opened, I spoke to the couple's son, Peter Ascher.
Otakar Dušek is a designer and artist with a passion for history and historical justice – something he hopes to instil in his students at the prestigious Václav Hollar School of Art in Prague. That passion helped propel him from a teacher of graphic design, fonts and computer graphics to world renowned medallist – an artist specialising in commemorative medals.
In a world still ruled by men, Hana Podolská –later dubbed the Czech “Coco Chanel” –fulfilled her childhood dream – she married a man who loved her passionately and built up a family fashion empire. Her clothes and fashion advice was sought after by the film stars of the First Republic, the wives of rich entrepreneurs and the country’s first ladies. But the communist take-over robbed her of everything she had worked hard to achieve and she died abandoned and forgotten in the harsh normalization years following the crushing of the Prague Spring.
One of the many successful exhibitions marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia is Mini Wonders, which explores the evolution of Czech toy design over the past century. The iconic Czech toys, including the inflatable animal-shaped seats produced by the company Fatra, have already been shown at Czech centres in Tokyo, Jerusalem, London and Prague, and will now travel to Moscow, Warsaw and Bratislava.
Fashion initiative We’re Next held their third annual event in Prague on Thursday evening, featuring designs by students from Prague’s Academy of Arts, or Umprum, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. I attended the show to see the collections and to speak with the young talents who brought them to life.
Household items produced in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and ‘30s by some of the country’s top designers and artists, such as Ladislav Sutnar and Toyen, are currently on display at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. The glasses, plates, hand-woven carpets and other items were made for Krásná Jizba, a famous interwar design co-op.