We did not have a hard time choosing the first Czech brands to present to you, as, we must admit, the writer of these lines has something to do with the Czech(Slovakian) design objects and spots lined up below. Something old and something new, a Czech Borz Kováts lamp and the mustard glass molded into porcelain. Let’s see!
What is Fabrika or artKRAFT for us Hungarians, it is Nanovo for the Czechs. Perhaps this is the simplest way to define the brand dealing with vintage furniture and home decor accessories, and specifically with renovating original pieces created in the second half of the twentieth century. May we be from either side of the border, our hearts stop at once by the sight of pieces of furniture originating from the Socialist era. As if we spoke the same language: this cultural treasure does not need any further explanation, only some renovation here and there, if absolutely necessary.
We primarily like Nanovo because it makes the armchairs, chairs, lamps or industrial wall clocks known from our past loveable and trendy. And it is not about simple styling, but the true preservation of traditions: in many cases, they approach a piece of furniture in cooperation with the dominant (and now quite old) designers of the era. We were standing at the booth of Nanovo at the Designblok event last year dazzled: this was when they presented the renovated version of Jiří Jiroutek’sU-453 wardrobe (the original was first manufactured by Interiér Praha in 1959).
Nanovo took on an important mission: the online store is not only a sales surface, but a serious collection database, as well. Our latest discovery was the Napako lamp of Josef Hůrka: its resemblance with the Vargánya table lamp of our Sándor Borz Kováts is uncanny. Nanovo is a real treasure trove. We are totally hung upon it.
Hanuš Lamr Jewelry
The heart of nature lovers is sure to skip a beat when they see the jewelry of Hanuš Lamr. We discovered these filigree pieces a few years back in the window of a design store in Prague (we still long for them, to be honest). What is surprising in these plain and quite feminine pieces of jewelry is that their creator is a man: Hanuš graduated from the college of applied arts in Prague (UMPRUM) in 2002 and then obtained professional experience in Israel and Germany.
In 2011, at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he designed a special brooch for Madeline Albright, the first minister of foreign affairs of the United States (who was, by the way, born in Prague), and the Museum of Applied Arts in Prague (UPM) also selected his pieces into its collection.
Hanuš usually uses precious metals and stones for creating his jewelry: he grafts the fruits of maple, lime or oak trees into gold and silver, and the rosehip earrings and necklaces are made out of synthetic coral. Our personal favorite is the silver lime earring.
Biscuit? Well, as a matter of fact, yes. Biscuit porcelain means unglazed porcelain pieces that have a marble-like effect. Mainly porcelains of the kind and similar objects are made in the Czech bisquit studio: Martina Žílová and Zuzana Firla create different household objects from espresso cups through different containers to pot holders.
Plain, minimal and more rustic pieces can also be found in their range of products. The designers show the thousand faces of porcelain objects with the help of the different techniques and use of materials. We are particularly fond of the collection with celadon glaze and the Enso collection painted with cobalt blue. Their range also includes stoneware cups with a matt finish, such as the more gloomy black-grey pieces of the “Smoke” collection. If we lived in the Czech Republic, we would choose sets for our close friends as wedding presents from them, for sure.
No one would tell about these bags that they started off their conquest from an Eastern-European city. The city of Zlín in the Czech Republic may sound familiar to many of us, as this is where Tomáš Baťa, the “shoe king” founded his factory in 1894. The history of the Playbag brand started off with designer Aleš Loch in 2008, who created the first bag from an old sheet, which was then followed by many others. They opened their showroom in Prague in 2014, and the Playbag backpacks are worn proudly all over the world.
Today, the range of products offered has also expanded: fanny packs, shoulder bags, handbags, wallets, laptop cases, telephone cases as well as shoes and socks are also made in the workshop out of waterproof sheet, linen, leather and other recycled materials. Unisex pieces, timeless design, high quality. That’s it. Our love at first sight is the bright red version of the VOLTA backpack.
Only one collection of Eva Pelechová grabbed our attention, but that one grabbed it big time. The designer did nothing else but took the plastic cups of old times and molded them into porcelain. Maybe it is only us, the members of the generation that grew up on the territory of the former Czechoslovakia, whose eyes are filled with tears by the sight of the mustard, yogurt and sour cream cups (bear with us, please).
Our absolute favorite is the mustard version, about which we have specific childhood memories and we could also point out the exact place of it in our grandma’s pantry. If you would like to learn another essential Czech expression in addition to “pivo”, it should be “hořčice”, that is, “mustard”.
In our weekly series, we present the Czech, Slovakian and Polish brands and design spots that we consider worthy of being placed on our mental design map. It is a guide for those looking for something other than usual tourist sights.