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The renaissance of the polished crystal

The hand-polished crystals of the Czech glass factory Rückl at first glance look like 3D-printed, ultramodern objects. On closer inspection, however, it appears to be a much more skilled machining. The special glass-making technique has been passed down from generation to generation for almost three hundred years, and the modern vases are the work of twelve craftsmen for several days. The Metamorphosis and the Odette collections exhibited at the Designblok 2021 in Prague have been expanded with new pieces.

To this day, wooden glass blow molds are used, and tinted glass is melted according to ancient methods and then cut and polished by hand. The first glass factory named after the family was founded by Jan Rückl in 1846, and the famous Nižbori factory was built in 1904. The history of the company was then put to the test by the hardships of the twentieth century: during the world wars, they had to make glassware for cleaning aircraft to survive, and during communism, the production of decorated glassware was completely stopped. After the change of regime, the great-grandson of the original owner, fortunately, considered it important to continue the family tradition, so he bought back the factory for thirty-five million Czech crowns. It then regained its old glow in 2017, with the help of a private investor, at which time they were committed to contemporary trends.

The Metamorphosis collection pays homage to the traditions of Czech glassmaking as well as the icons of Czech history while taking them to a new level. The name refers to three kinds of transformations: the crystallization of quartz, the transformation of one form into another, and the Kafka metamorphosis. The design of the complex pattern of the collection was inspired by repetitive structures found in both nature and architecture: the regularly spaced scales of snakeskin, the shape of the Bravais lattice, and the arches of medieval Gothic. Although the pattern appears to be perfectly regular, there are actually minor discrepancies that suggest exceptionally complex manual work. Each piece is the fruit of the work of twelve different craftsmen, where none of them can make a mistake in order to keep the rhythm of the pattern unbroken. The bright pink, which has become a trademark of Rückl, is complemented by a modest transparent tone, a brown tone, referred to as a cigar color, and the latest amber pieces were launched this autumn.

The even more detailed Odette collection, also exhibited at the Designblok 2021, gives the impression in person as if the intricate structure had been printed in 3D. “Powerful stories of good, evil, love and jealousy resound in the rustle of silky swan feathers. The delicacy of lace and the rhythm of graceful ballet steps reflect in the precise cut of a collection that is the ultimate testimony to the incredible skill of Czech glassmakers and cutters,” the company says.

Photo: Lilla Liszkay, Designblok 2021

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