Czech Grand Design awards honour designer Jan Čtvrtník

Droog Aalto vase

Excellence in Czech design was honoured at the weekend at the annual Czech Grand Design awards. The Academy of Design of the Czech Republic, which consists of theorists, museum curators, journalists and others in the design community, awarded their highest accolade this year to Jan Čtvrtník.

Jan Čtvrtník,  photo: CTK
Each year, the academy awards the prize of Grand Designer to the designer, fashion designer, graphic artist or photographer who wins the most votes over the full range of categories. This year the prize went to 34-year old Jan Čtvrtník, who told me how he felt about receiving it.

“I get an award for my hobby basically; because I work as a designer - I'm working in Italy for Electrolux – but the things that I was awarded for are my freelance work, basically things I’m doing at home after work. So I’m pretty happy about the fact I’ve received an award for my hobby.”

The item of Čtvrtník’s work that has garnered the most attention was his vase called Droog Aalto – a reinterpretation of a glasswork piece made by renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto in 1936. Seizing on a legend that the famous “Savoy” vase was intended to recall the outline of a Finnish lake, Čtvrtník took the original shape but modified it to reflect the impact of global warming. The work has also received a number of awards already. I asked Silvie Luběnová of Profilmedia, the company organising Czech Grand Design, what makes Jan Čtvrtník’s work unique.

“What I think is really interesting about Jan’s work is how open he is, how he treats all the materials he is confronted with. He’s really open-minded, clever, he has travelled a lot. And he’s able to cooperate with different companies and deal with different materials and always make compromises between what the company actually wanted from him and what the product is in the end. I think he has great abilities that designers should have.”

Other prizes were awarded to Monika Drápalová for clothing design, and Robert V. Novák for graphic design. Most notably, the recently deceased Jan Kaplický – author of the ill-fated design for Prague’s national library, was posthumously inducted into the Academy of Design’s Hall of Fame.