Prague hosts Designblok 2010

Photo: CTK

This week Prague is hosting its biggest annual festival of design. Now in its twelfth year, Designblok brings more than 200 presentations of new designs, as well as exhibitions, fashion shows and lectures taking place in selected showrooms, boutiques, and galleries all over the city. It has become a tradition that the centre of the exhibition programme, the so called “Superstudio”, is located at a different place each year. Ruth Fraňková spoke to Jana Zielinski, the director of Designblok, to find out about this years’ venue.

Bubenská 1, photo:
“This year the Superstudio is located in the spacey old building that was a former electric factory. It is called Bubenská One and is a huge building with ceramic tiles. I think almost everybody knows the building but almost nobody was ever inside, because for years it was used as a bank and it was not open to the public. It is a beautiful functionalist building built in 1927 to 1935 and in that period before the WWII it was one of the biggest buildings in Central Europe.”

The central theme of this year’s Designblok is water. Why is that?

Photo: CTK
“We were thinking of what connects our traditional districts and it’s the river Vltava. The water which flows in the river has been there for hundreds of years and we like that continuity and we think there should be continuity in design as well. Our Superstudio is located directly on the Vltavská metro station by the river, so the topic of water suggested itself quite naturally.”

Have you got any special guests this year?

“This year we have quite a lot of star guests. One of them is Inga Sempé, the famous French designer working for top companies like Ligne Roset or Cappellini. She has a special exhibition here in Superstudio. Another one is Richard Hutten, a very famous conceptual Dutch designer who we hoped to bring for many years and this year we finally succeeded. There is also a quite well known Norwegian studio StokkeAustad which won the Wallpaper award as the discovery of the year.”

Photo: CTK
From what I have seen there are quite a lot of glass designers represented this year. Would you say that glassmaking can still be considered a Czech trademark?

“I would say so. I think that for the designers it is much easier to work with glass than for example with furniture because you have to develop furniture at least two or three years. So I think almost all Czech designers have something to do with glass.”

Jana Zielinski
And finally, have you noticed the impact of the financial crisis? Has it affected the work of designers? Are people still willing to invest in design objects?

“In my opinion it has two sides. The positive one is that Czech companies have started to work with designers to succeed and to compete, which is very important. On the other hand, I think that the crisis affects most of the companies with mid-range products and it touches them of course.”