When we first met Master & Master, we never would have guessed it was a Czech design brand – and we couldn’t have been more wrong. The Czech furniture brand founded by two friends Ondřej Zita and Luděk Šteigl is now the ’Producer of the Year’. After they won the Czech Grand Design Award, we asked the guys to tell us about their success story. Interview!
You have just won the Czech Grand Design Award a few months ago. How did you feel when your phone rang, and the presenter announced that you won? Were you surprised or were you looking out for this award a little bit?
It really came as a surprise to us. But it was a very gentle and welcome surprise, and of course a great honor, truly satisfying. It’s solid proof that what we do and to what we have devoted our energy every day is working. Naturally it also represents a big commitment to our future – we are really still at the beginning of this company’s story.
Master & Master was founded in 2012. Luděk is a carpenter, and Ondřej. you are a graphic designer as far as I know. How did you come up with the idea of establishing a design brand with furniture in the focus?
Luděk and I have been friends since we were teenagers. We had always wanted to set up a business together. We just didn’t know in which field. When I was studying graphic design at AAAD (Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague – the Ed.), I met many architects, product designers, including Michal Malášek, the designer of our very first product. During these years, Luděk was working as a carpenter in London. After I finished my studies in 2012 and Luděk returned from the United Kingdom, we decided to join my background in design and Luděk’s technical skills and craftmanship somehow. And voilà, here we are!
The name Master & Master mainly covers the two of you. Is there anyone else in the company who you are working with, or is it really a „two men show”?
There were really just the two of us at the beginning and you know, the beginnings are always tough. However, after one year, we hired our first employee. Right now we have seven employees plus Luděk and me. Of course we are working with all kinds of other different companies and suppliers. We simply couldn’t manage to do everything ourselves. It’s always a teamwork.
You collaborate with other designers, including Lucie Koldová. who designed the ’Cocon’ lounge chair for you. What was it like to work with her? How did you meet Lucie Koldová or other designers whom you are working with?
Every single product in our collection was designed by a designer that we are continuously working with. We are just the producers and directors of the brand’s collection, we do not design stuff. It is very complex discipline, so we rather pass it to skilled product designers. However, we always choose the designs that fit within our brand and we overlook and discuss the development of products with the designers along the way. My background is only in „2D” design. I met Lucie at AAAD, too. University is the best place for networking, these contacts become very useful in the future.
You started the brand in 2012, and in 2017 you opened your showroom in Holešovice district of Prague. Can you tell us some success stories in the life of Master & Master in this period? What kind of milestones can you mention that was very memorable or important in the brand’s or your life?
Winning the Czech Grand Design Award is definitely one of the highlights. We were already nominated few times before but never had won. Every new product we add to the collection is also a milestone in a way. It is a long journey from an idea to the final product in the portfolio. Another milestone is that both Luděk and I became fathers around a year and half ago. Even though it is more personal, it definitely gave us even more energy and determination to keep building our Master & Master brand.
Do you have any plans for the near future? Can you tell us some would-be projects you are working on?
We are focusing a lot of energy on new products so you have a lot to be looking forward to. I am not going to tell you everything but one of the exciting new additions will be a whole family of chairs.
Photos: Master & Master