10 Czech Design Icons
From glass to porcelain, from sneakers to toys, there are a number of Czech design objects that have stood the test of time. In the nation’s collective consciousness, these pieces define Czech design. Here is a selection among the icons:
1. Inflatable animals, Libuše Niklová, 1970s
A colourful bull, elephant, and giraffe were integral parts of childhood in 1970s Czechoslovakia. Libuše Niklová’s animals arose from a long-term cooperation with Fatra, a plastics manufacturer, who once again manufactures these popular animals after a long hiatus.
Where to buy: GUMA, Ječná 24, Prague
2. Krystal Porcelain Box, Pavel Janák, 1911
This glazed ceramic box, composed of 16 white pyramids with a black border along its edges, is an icon of not only Czech design, but of Czech Cubism as a whole. You can find the single original in the collection of Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts.
Where to buy replicas:
Modernista Museum Shop, Uměleckoprůmyslové museum, ul. 17. listopadu 2, Prague 1 and other shops of the chain Modernista
3. Filigrán Vase, Daniel Piršč, 2002
This tall conical porcelain vase by Daniel Piršč features highly-detailed hand-carved decor on the upper section inspired by Czech lace. The designer has dedicated his entire career to porcelain – his work includes not only vases, lighting, and decorative objects, but also original 3D wallpapers.
Where to buy: selected stores, www.pirsc.cz
4. Wooden Toys, Ladislav Sutnar, 1930
Including a walrus, elephant, lion, camel and rhinoceros, these hand-made and hand-painted wood toys were Sutnar’s ideal iteration of a modern toy. The survival of their prototypes has helped to keep their legacy alive.
Where to buy replicas:
Modernista Museum Shop, Uměleckoprůmyslové museum, ul. 17. listopadu 2, Prague 1 other shops of the chain Modernista
5. Škoda Felicia, 1959-1964
From scooters to motorcycles to cars, Czechs have a long legacy of designing transportation products that combine precise technology and craftsmanship with iconic design. Just under 15,000 Felicia’s were produced. Škoda cars continue to dominate the roads in the Czech Republic and beyond today.
Where to see: sightseeing rides are available from several tour companies, e.g. www.praguechauffeurs.com
6. Peaked bowl, František Vízner, 1979
František Vizner was one of the most significant figures in Czech glass; his works from the 1960s to the 1980s are still considered paradigms of modern design. This minimalist sculpturally conceived bowl, with its exceptional shaping, was sculpted from a large block of glass using a handheld grinder.
Where to buy: Auction only
7. Waterproof Allover Onion (Left and Right), Maxim Velčovský, 2003
Maxim Velčovský’s porcelain rain boot featuring the blue onion pattern skirts the boundary between work of art and functional design. It’s imbued with an offbeat approach and sense of humour – both typical of the designer, who is also the creator of such iconic pieces as Pure Cup, a reinterpretation of the disposable plastic cup in porcelain and Digi Clock, an antique Czech clock in porcelain featuring a digital display.
Where to buy: DOX by Qubus, Poupětova 1, Praha 7, selected stores
8. H269 Armchair, Jindřich Halabala, 1933
Just like Pavel Janák, Jindřich Halabala is one of the greatest legends of Czech design. His best-known works are his armchairs, which he designed for UP (“United Applied Arts Manufacturers”) in Brno, where he worked for many years. His simple, elegant armchair with a bent oak frame is today a highly sought-after collector’s item.
Where to buy replicas: Modernista, Vinohradská 50, Prague 2
9. Botas classic trainers, 1966
Featuring a vertical serrated stripe and the Botas brand’s three-star logo, the Botas Classic 66 is the shoe that elevated Botas to icon status. In 2008 two graphic design students brought the 66 Classic into the 21st-century with a new design.
Prague is home to two BOTAS 66 concept shops: BOTAS 66, Skořepka 4, Prague 1, and Křížkovského 18, Prague 3
10. Lady Hamilton Moser glass set, 1934
This luxury glass set is among Moser’s best-known designs. The lead-free crystal glasses are hand-blown, then cut into six curved facets reminiscent of flower petals.
Where to buy: Moser, Staroměstské nám. 603/15, Prague 1, and Moser Sales Gallery, Na Příkopě 12, Prague 1