The 18th Designblok Attracts Tens of Thousands of Visitors
Designblok, Prague Design and Fashion Week – the biggest curated festival of fashion and design in Central Europe – this year welcomed over 200 exhibitors to the main Designblok venues, the Superstudio, Openstudio and Art House.
The 18th year of the biggest festival of fashion and design in Central Europe saw visitors come to the grounds of Výstaviště Praha, which housed the Superstudio, Openstudio and Art House. The venue also hosted a new event this year – Designérie – a landscape of experiences for both children and adults. In addition to the main exhibition venue, Designblok visitors got the chance to see many other exhibitions and installations in the best galleries, showrooms and pop-up shops across Prague.
The Výstaviště grounds in Holešovice welcomed 37,987 visitors: 26,077 were adults; 7,710 were made up of students, the retired and the disabled; and 4,200 were children under 15. The main Designblok venue at Výstaviště together with other Designblok exhibitions recorded over 52,000 visitors in total.
Designblok hosted installations and exhibitions at 32 locations all across Prague as well as special installations in public spaces. Located in the right wing of the Industrial Palace, the Superstudio showcased 65 producers, distributors and companies as well as 11 media organisations. The Art House hosted 15 art projects. The Openstudio exhibited 138 presentations by designers, design studios and school studios. The Designblok Diploma Selection competition presented a variety of installations, featuring work by 24 product designers – with a joint exhibition of their work displayed in the Openstudio – and 13 fashion designers – who showcased their collections on the catwalk. Designblok participants included designers from the Netherlands, Sweden, Lithuania, Wallonia-Brussels, Spain, Poland, Germany, Italy, Israel, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Japan, France, Austria, the Czech Republic and other countries.
The main Designblok venues this year were the Industrial Palace and the unique building of the Lapidarium of the National Museum – were both situated in the grounds of Výstaviště Praha Holešovice.
Located in the right wing of the Art-Nouveau Industrial Palace and designed by Jan Rosický, the Superstudio presented new products by leading Czech and foreign brands and producers in the fields of furniture, lighting and interior accessories. The Superstudio also hosted the Erste Premier Lounge, a place for Designblok VIP guests to relax and refresh.
Located in the left wing of the Industrial Palace, the Openstudio as usual showcased products designed by over a hundred designers and design studios from many European countries. The Openstudio also displayed the exhibition of the best diploma (graduation) work by designers from all across Europe as part of the Designblok Diploma Selection competition. Visitors to the Openstudio got to admire prototypes and products awaiting production as well as purchase goods directly from designers. The Openstudio also included the Reflex Stage, a discussion platform presenting lectures by designers and guests from abroad plus debates on the theme of TASTE/BAD TASTE co-organised with Reflex magazine.
This year, the Openstudio presented the first edition of Designérie, a landscape of experiences, located in the Central Hall of the Industrial Palace. Designérie showcased interactive installations designed by Czech designers exclusively for Designblok, including special chandeliers by Maxim Velčovský, swings, an observation tower and a café where visitors could relax and restore their energy before their next design discovery. The Garden Stage was at the heart of things with a live accompanying programme and transforming into a catwalk and concert/theatre stage. Fashion shows, concerts and announcements of the best projects on display all took place at this Designblok events hub.
The Art House was an integral part of Designblok for the fourth year running, presenting a variety of projects that straddle the line between art and design. This year, the Art House exhibited work by leading Czech designers across all generations. The exhibition also included work by prominent designers from abroad, such as Arihiro Miyake, chmara.rosinke and Matthias Kaiser.
The City. As in previous years, visitors saw dozens of installations all across Prague, including large objects in public spaces. This year, showrooms, boutiques, cafés and bookstores came together to create Designblok Zones in Prague 1 and Prague 7, putting on special events throughout the Designblok week.
Each year, Designblok presents a main theme that runs through the entire event and features in many exhibitor installations. Following Icons, Childhood and Freedom, the theme for the 18th year was Sport, inspired by the 2016 Olympics. Like sport, design is both a game and hard work. Designers can’t achieve anything unless they collaborate with producers, gallerists, dealers and have a solid support network. Outside the exhibition venue, there were installations featuring sports bikes and scooters which visitors could try out. Designérie in the Central Hall featured a balance beam, a vaulting buck and a trampoline. Many designers also presented sport-related products, such as a ping-pong table and lights in the form of tennis rackets. Each year, Designblok supports a bnefit project. In keeping with the theme of sport, Real Top Praha organised a benefit football tournament at Designblok involving the Designblok team (designers and participants), the Erste Premier team (representing the general partner), the Real Top Praha team and the Divadlo Verze team with many notable names taking to the pitch – including Jaromír Bosák, Adam Mišík, David Prachař, Igor Chmela, Jakub Štáfek, Ladislav Hampl, Thomas Zielinski, Jan Plecháč, Henry Wielgus, Vladimír Žák, Luboš Kozel, Luděk Zelenka and David Novotný.
This year, Designlok’s foremost guests included some of Europe’s leading designers. As well as presenting their own installations and exhibitions, they also gave lectures and took part in debates with visitors at the Openstudio. Arihiro Miyake, who has been living and working in Helsinki for quite some time, exhibited his impressive Coppélia chandelier designed for Moooi at the Art House. Innovative French designer François Azambourg’s installation also featured lights, including Sputnik, a lamp inspired by outer space, his illusory Petit Theatre lights, evoking the magic of the theatre, and his Very Nice light, which is both an object and an invention. Azambourg also presented his other work, including furniture, accessories and other products. Spanish designer Tomás Alonso presented new objects bearing his inimitable signature style.
The chmara.rosinke designer-duo won much acclaim last year for their project featuring a minimalist dwelling. And this year they displayed their latest collections. Artist Matthias Kaiser, one of the main stars at London Design Week this year, combines traditional ceramics handicraft with an experimental approach. At Designblok, he presented his new collection. Dutch fashion designer Danial Aitouganov, winner of the prestigious Lichting 2016 competition, presented his latest collection on the Designblok catwalk.
Overall, designers from a total of 20 countries presented their work in the form of installations and fashion shows.
Designblok Diploma Selection
In collaboration with EUNIC Cluster Czech Republic, Designblok presented the third year of the Designblok Diploma Selection, an international competition showcasing the work of the most talented European graduate students. This year, there were over 200 applicants. The finalists included 24 product designers and 13 fashion designers. This year, Designblok Diploma Selection finalists came from 13 European countries, including the Netherlands, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Wallonia-Brussels, Lithuania and Israel. 18 young Czech designers also took part in the competition.
Product design finalists presented their work at an exhibition in the Openstudio. They included Kristína Kollarovicsová and her porcelain figurines of the Pope, Jarek Nohavica and Daniel Piršč; Iva Kukurić and her set of objects, whose purposes are for the user to decide; Václav Mlynář of the Royal College of Art and his KOSKI game; and Roman Kvita of the AAAD in Prague and his urn collection. Fashion collections were presented on the Garden Stage in the Central Hall of the Industrial Palace, where 13 fashion designers – including Denisa Dovalová, Marie Nováková and Tereza Rosalie Kladošová from the Czech Republic – showcased their work.
The winners in both categories were chosen by an international jury made up of respected curators, gallerists and journalists. The award for the best Czech diploma work was presented with the support of T-Mobile Česká Republika. From 24 participants in the product design category, the award was given to Vlasta Kubušová and Verena Michels of the Universität der Künste in Berlin for Plastic! – a collection of eyewear made from bioplastics with a focus on renewable resources. The winner of the fashion design category was Jorieke Tenbergen of the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem, the Netherlands. The award for best Czech diploma work went to Eduard Herrmann of the AAAD in Prague for his bench designed for public spaces. The winners were awarded with a cheque for EUR 1,000 and the opportunity to present their work at Designblok 2017 – just like last year’s winners Jorge Penadés, Michal Strach and Janina Volkmer, who all presented their work at Designblok this year.
Members of the Designblok Diploma Selection 2016 jury included: Juliet Kinchin, Design Curator, MoMA, New York; Lina Kanafani, Curator and Gallerist, MINT shop, London; Rossana Orlandi, Gallerist, Milan; Tulga Beyerle, Director of Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden – Pilnitz; Agnieszka Jacobson, School of Form, Poznań; Natasha Binar, Fashion Theorist (DE); Esther Sternkopf, Creative Director of ELLE PL; Jane Withers, Design Theorist and Curator, London; Noémie Schwaller, Editor-in-Chief of DASH Magazine (UK), Piero Gandini, Founder of Flos (IT); Francois Leblanc, Gallerist, Gallery S. Bensimon, Paris; Gilles Massé, Wallpaper Store, Milan; Cok de Rooy, Curator and Gallerist, Frozen Fountain, Amsterdam; Guus Beumer, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam; Adam Štěch, Curator and Design Theorist, Okolo, Prague; Andrea Běhounková, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE CZ (CZ); Danica Kovářová, Editor-in-Chief of Dolce Vita (CZ); Veronika Ruppert, Journalist and Editor of Modeschau, Radio Wave (CZ).
The 18th Designblok featured an extensive accompanying programme at various locations. Situated in the Central Hall, the circular shaped Garden Stage served as the Designblok hub, presenting 17 fashion shows by Czech and international fashion designers, a concert by Republic of Two and the Designblok Awards ceremony, where medals for outstanding achievement were awarded to the winners. The Garden Stage also hosted the theatre productions Divočina, marnivost ptačích per and Sudí. The stage attracted large numbers of adults and children owing to its inclusive circular arrangement, diverse programme and the generous size of the Central Hall itself.
In addition to the Garden Stage, Designblok also presented the Reflex Stage, a vibrant discussion platform located in the left wing of the Industrial Palace. Visitors got the chance to meet Czech designers and guests from abroad, who all gave lectures and brief presentations of their work. The Reflex Stage also offered debates on the theme of TASTE/BAD TASTE co-organised with Reflex magazine. Participants included Tomáš Sedláček, Cyril Höschl, Františka Čížková, Maxim Velčovský, Jefim Fištejn and Designblok directors Jana Zielinski and Jiří Macek among others.
The main Garden Stage and the discussion-focused Reflex Stage both offered an extensive daily programme throughout the Designblok event. Outside, visitors got to root for their teams at the benefit football tournament, with the Real Top Praha and Verze Theatre teams featuring well-known names and actors. Visitors also got to go jogging or catch a theatre show.
Designblok 2016 Awards
As in previous years, the best Designblok projects and installations were awarded by a jury made up of editors-in-chief and Czech and international journalists. At the closing gala evening on Sunday, October 30, awards were presented to the winners on the ŠKODA Design Runway. The categories included best installations by producers, distributors, secondary school/university studios, designers and design studios. The jury also chose winners in the following categories: best new furniture, best collection of interior accessories, best collection of lights and best collection of jewellery among others. Maxim Velčovský was named the overall winner for his Slunečnice objects, Memento Mori chandelier (designed for Lasvit and exhibited in the Art House), window designed for JANOŠÍK OKNA-DVEŘE, and Lasvit’s presentation at the company’s showroom in Holešovice. In addition to the trophy – a medal – all of the winners and nominees received special stickers, which helped visitors find the best presentations at Prague Design and Fashion Week.
Winners of the Designblok 2016 Awards:
1. Best New Furniture:
NOMINEES: Vrtiška Žák/Eduard Herrmann and Matěj Coufal/VJEMY
WINNER: Vrtiška Žák, TUTU cradle for Devoto
2. Best Collection of Interior Accessories:
NOMINEES: Qubus/LLEV/Roman Šedina
WINNER: LLEV, Moon collection
3. Best Collection of Lights:
WINNER: BOMMA, Soap and Phenomena collections
4. Best Collection of Jewellery:
NOMINEES: Mooyyy/ZORYA/Kristýna Malovaná
WINNER: Zorya, Cluster, Formula and Graft collections
5. Best New Product:
NOMINEES: Kayu/LLEV/Tadeáš Podracký
WINNER: LLEV, Moon collection
6. Best Prototype by a Designer:
NOMINEES: Karel Matějka/KUSY/Michal Strach
WINNER: Michal Strach, Lupus in Fabula project
7. Best Installation by a Producer:
8. Best Installation by a Designer or Design Studio:
NOMINEES: Beldafactory/ZORYA/Daria Makeeva
9. Best Secondary School/University Presentation:
NOMINEES: Czech Technical University in Prague/AAAD in Prague/Sutnarka
WINNER: Czech Technical University in Prague, Department of Industrial Design, Tram 1926 concept
10. Special Award for Outstanding Achievement:
NOMINEES: Atelier SAD, Šiška/Maxim Velčovský, Slunečnice/Eva Eisler, Objekty
WINNER: Maxim Velčovský, Slunečnice
11. Best Exhibited Fashion Collection
NOMINEES: Daria Makeeva/Boa for Poutník/ONEDAY
WINNER: Daria Makeeva, Kapsulní kolekce in collaboration with Maria Makeeva
12. MAIN DESIGNBLOK AWARD: Maxim Velčovský
For Slunečnice, the Memento Mori chandelier (Art House), window for JANOŠÍK OKNA DVEŘE and the Lasvit showroom presentation.
Each year, in addition to the Designblok Awards, a cheque is presented at the gala evening to a benefit project supported by Designblok which reflects the Designblok theme. Inspired by this year’s theme of Sport, a benefit football tournament was organised to support Real Top Praha NGO. At the gala evening, a cheque for CZK 100,000 was presented by football player Vladimír Šmicer to the parents of five-year-old Jakub, a sufferer of the rare Toriello-Carey syndrome. The cheque will be used to purchase equipment for Jakub’s rehabilitation.
The second benefit project was the Benefashion fashion show for Projekt 35 featuring a special collection of models in designs by 12 leading Czech fashion designers. Monika Drápalová, Denisa Nová, Pavel Brejcha, Petra Ptáčková and other designers were tasked with creating models inspired by the stories of young women unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer. The clothes were presented by the patients themselves, whose stories inspired the clothes.
As it did last year, Designblok also supported the Fokus Praha project and Srdcerváči’s installation at the Openstudio.
Printed material providing information on the programme and individual festival venues was also published, including a programme booklet with a list of all participants and a special Designblok newspaper/guide, helping visitors find the most interesting locations and installations. This year, visitors also got the chance to take part in Decathlon, which helped promote the most interesting and interactive Designblok installations.