Annual festival bringing design closer to public
John Connolly - on crime writing and his latest novel The Black Angel - partly set in the Czech Rep
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The focus is on design this week in Prague, as the annual Designblok festival showcases both Czech and international furniture, accessories and fashion at a host of venues around the city. The centre of activities is a disused factory in the district of Karlin, which has been converted into a huge and very colourful temporary gallery. Just before the official opening on Monday evening, I asked organiser Jana Zielinski what was the aim of the Designblok festival.
"It's actually to present contemporary Czech and international design to the Czech public, because we would like to 'infiltrate' design among Czech society. This is what we have been working on for seven years now, and we think it's actually getting better and better every year, because we get more people coming, more designers, we have more designers creating things for Designblok. And the public and the media are more and more interested in design. So that's the aim, basically."
How many different events are taking place this year? I know it's a lot.
"I can't tell you exactly, but we have about 90 participants, meaning designers, design studios, interior show rooms and galleries. And everybody is preparing some event."
This "Superstudio" here in Karlin is quite amazing. There's a big electric merry-go-round with swans, there's a children's "chill out" area, there are around 35 industrial containers, each containing the work of a different designer - tell us about this Superstudio and what the thinking behind it is.
"Every year we have the same problem, because here there are a lot of designers, a lot of exhibitions and they don't have their own space in Prague. So that's why we decided to set up this Superstudio, to give all these presentations a space.
"This Superstudio is like a natural centre of Designblok, because we have here a lot of exhibitions in one space. You can come here and have a coffee in the café, you can 'fly' in the swans. There are a lot of live events here as well."
Designblok has been going for seven years now. In that period have you noticed that Czechs have developed a greater appreciation for design?
"There has been a great change, because at the beginning when we started Designblok was an event for a few professionals. But over the years we have found that families are coming, people who are not specialised in design, normal people just interested in lifestyle and stylish things.
"As well, concerning the media, in the first three, four years we didn't have journalists to speak to, and now almost every media in the Czech Republic has a sort of editor for design and lifestyle. So we think it is great progress, actually."
To find out more go to www.designblok.cz