The Czech Glass Phenomenon
In Czech design there is one material that you will find over and over again: glass.
With a worldwide reputation, Czech glass, or Bohemian glass or crystal as it is most often referred, is a source of national pride.
The tradition of Czech glassmaking dates back to the Middle Ages. The remains of the oldest know glassworks, dating to 1250, is located in Kamenický Šenov in Northern Bohemia, which remains the centre of Czech glass production today. It is also in Kamenický Šenov that, among the Czech Republic’s unique system of specialized glass schools, the oldest glass school in Europe is located.
Raw materials, which have been plentiful in the Czech lands through the centuries, give Czech glass its remarkable quality and a strength and stability that make it ideal for cutting and engraving, as well as the variety of other techniques and traditions – painted glass, blown glass, mould-melted glass – that have been passed down through the generations. It is the proverbial ‘golden Czech hands’, however, that are the main element that has led to the Czech glass phenomenon. Precision combined with craftsmanship and innovation makes Czech glassmakers and masters among the best in the world.
Today, the Czech glass legends like Pavel Hlava, František Vízner, couple Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, René Roubíček, Bořek Šípek and Rony Plesl, are joined by a new generation of glass artists and designers who are combining the age-old Bohemian glassmaking tradition with distinctive contemporary design. Top names to look out for include Lucie Koldová, Dechem (one of the only contemporary design studios working exclusively in glass), Rony Plesl, Qubus studio and Tadeáš Podracký. These and other young Czech designers are working with heritage glass brands like Moser and Preciosa along with new modern glass manufacturers including Brokis, Lasvit and BOMMA.
Czech glass and crystal (the presence of lead distinguishes the latter, although glass in the Czech Republic is considered glass crystal because of its clarity and quality) has a time-tested allure and exquisite beauty. From glass beads to chandeliers, from modern lighting to contemporary glass objects, today past and present are uniting to keep the Czech glass phenomenon going strong.