Toy or sculpture?—Introducing MY DVĚ

Toy or sculpture?—Introducing MY DVĚ

Czech design duo MY DVĚ’s sophisticated and sometimes startling creations strike a fine balance between children’s toys and collectible design objects. Their pieces, or as they call them, their “creatures”, are at once fun and unsettling, where quality craftsmanship is completed by an artistic mindset. Interview.

Monika Matějková and Veronika Watzková first met at UMPRUM in Prague, where they gradually discovered that they had similar ideas about creating. “Even though we were both different, this allowed us to complement each other nicely,” they noted. Then, in the final year of their studies, they decided they wanted to create something together, and during these joint brainstorming sessions, they moved towards fantasy creations for children. “Probably to satiate the child in us,” they explained. It was then that the duo’s first collection took shape, marking the beginning of the story of their studio.

What does the name MY DVĚ stand for?

MY DVĚ: Let’s be honest, there is no deep meaning behind the name of our studio. Our name actually came about when we wanted to register for Designblok with our first collection, MIMOZEM, and finally, through a collective brainstorming session, we came up with the name MY DVĚ. At the time, some people laughed at us for it, but we wanted to choose a clear and distinctive name that meant “us two”. No one laughs at us for it anymore, and we think it works well and captures our feminine energy.

The theme of your first wooden toy collection, called MIMOZEM, is based around traveling and exploring new worlds, and the pieces are inspired by basic shapes. What is the creative philosophy of MY DVĚ and what makes a good toy?

MY DVĚ: We believe that a good toy is not only a “pleasant” object, as is often the case today, but also has a responsible function. It can stimulate and develop children’s imagination or educate them in an entertaining way while telling enlightening stories. A toy can affect us for the rest of our lives.

Photo: Rudolf Skopec

You have dedicated your MIMOZEM toys to children but created your ZAHUMNY line as collectible design objects. What was the reason for this change?

MY DVĚ: After the success of MIMOZEM, we were faced with the important question of what direction to take our work. One possible direction was to create mass-produced toys in large quantities to be sold in shops specializing in locally designed toys. While this direction spanned a lot of interest, we decided that the story of our creatures (as we like to say) is important to us, not only the idea but also the production process. So, where technically possible, we make our objects ourselves, so that each piece bears our signature. This is why we have moved from product creation to sculpture in the creation of ZAHUMNY objects. The pieces in the collection fall somewhere between a toy and a sculpture, also because each figurine was created in two sizes.

Czechia has a long history of making wooden toys. To what extent do you draw inspiration from the Czech tradition of toy making?

MY DVĚ: There is a great tradition not only of toy making but also of puppetry, which still produces great creations today. The work of designers such as Minka Podhajská, Libuše Niklová, Ladislav Sutnar, and Jiří Trnka is a great influence.

Our ZAHUMNY collection too pays homage to Czech puppetry and traditional toy making. The pieces in the collection are inspired by the well-known Czechoslovak folk fairytale characters that have accompanied us in various forms since childhood. These include the Princess, the Dragon, the Wise Man, Death, and our favorite, the Devil, or Čert in Czech. The latter is actually quite different from from how the majority of the world perceives this character as the ’Devil’ in their culture. The “Czechoslovakian devil” is often cheerful and affectionate, although he can be frightening, but at the same time, he is also fair. In fairy tales, he often becomes a friend to the protagonists and helps them to triumph over evil.

We have to admit that we were quite envious of the ZAHUMNY characters’ journey: they really did manage to “travel around the world”. The Mini Wonders traveling exhibition which is dedicated to Czech toys has taken them to Bratislava, Milan, London, Tel Aviv, Moscow, and Tokyo.

Photo: Štěpánka Paseková

In your latest collection, BLUDÁRIUM, in the creation of your somewhat bewildering figures, you have added yet another layer of meaning to your objects. What ideas have shaped the pieces in this collection?

MY DVĚ: The BLUDÁRIUM collection was inspired by environmental issues. The felling of Czech forests and the sale of extracted wood to China, where it is cheaply made into a product that then appears on the Czech market, is a senseless cycle. We wanted to address this issue with our objects.

BLUDÁRIUM tells the story of a tree that we let come to life and follow the path it wants to follow. To create the figures, we used pieces of leftover wood, complemented with fired ceramic elements. The result is a series of creatures with different characters, which are purely sculptural in nature. The name of the series comes from the terms ‘bloudit’ and ‘blud’, meaning ‘wandering’ and ‘delusion’.

With each collection, you have taken your objects to a new level. What new directions are you looking to explore in the near future?

MY DVĚ: We are increasingly interested in experimenting with and combining different materials. The art of creation will always be an inspiration for us. We would also like to think on a larger scale. We succeeded in doing so at last year’s Designblok event, where we created the central lounge area for the exhibition. The elements of the MIKROKOSMOS installation were made of sustainable materials and inspired by the interconnectedness of living organisms in nature.

Photos: David Růžička

What do you think of the Czech contemporary toy scene: how dominant are they nowadays on the international scene?

The tradition of Czech toys is still alive and well and enjoys a good reputation in the world. In recent years, parents have also started to realize that quality is more important than quantity, and toy production has also regained momentum. More and more designers are starting to focus on this area, resulting in really high-quality products. To give a few examples, such are the toys from Kutulu or Totemo.

MY DVĚ will soon be launching new creations, but in the meantime, a limited number of pieces from the designer duo’s collections are available directly from the creators.

Cover Photo: Jakub Dušek

MY DVĚ | Web | Instagram

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