Central Eastern Europe and the creative energies of the region are always in HYPEANDHYPER’s center of interest. One of our main partners is CZECHDESIGN, which is a lot more than a simple design magazine. We have already mentioned this organization a few times before, but now we asked editor-in-chief Veronika Pařízková to tell us a little bit more. Exclusive interview!
You have been the editor-in-chief at CZECHDESIGN since 2017. Could you please introduce CZECHDESIGN for the readers?
We are an organization covering a wide range of activities. There is a magazine, which has approx. 200,000 pageviews and more than 80,000 readers a month today, making us the strongest medium in the field of design and architecture in the Czech Republic. But there is a lot more activities that CZECHDESIGN does. We have a shop, which sells the products of Czech designers, we are about to open our second store at Myslikova Street soon, with Czech jewelry, backpacks, glass or ceramics in the selection. My colleagues are also responsible for competitions, aiming to change the visual communication of Czech cities and institutions.
Could you please tell us some interesting projects, some success stories that CZECHDESIGN managed in the last few years? I am familiar with the annual Model Young Package competition, which is quite popular among young designers.
Last year we helped the Nation Gallery get a new visual identity, and also the cities of Nymburk and Litomerice, but we could also mention the Prague 3 project (we already presented it in a previous article – the Ed.). There were some quite intensive reactions on social media about the new Prague 3 logo. But I must say that we are very satisfied with this result. Fresh, modern and funny.
More and more cities, districts and local government recognize the importance of design/visual communication in the Czech Republic. There are many successful competitions today, aiming to give new and fresh visual identities to Czech cities. What do you think about this phenomenon?
I think we are still one of the very few organizations, or perhaps the only one, that helped cities or institutions with these changes. In the past, there were no transparent competitions and the cities did the logo by themselves. Thanks to this activity, we can easily communicate the need for this to the public, and so they slowly understand why these competitions are so important.
If someone is interested in Czech design, what kind of design brands & events would you recommend?
There are still some companies that were also successful during the First Republic like Botas making iconic sneakers (you can read more about Botas shoes in our previous article – the Ed.) or the hat factory Tonak established in 1799. Unfortunately, most of the famous factories were destroyed during the Communist era. Luckily, Bohemian glass still exists, together with many factories and designers who are producing truly remarkable works including Dechem, Brokis, Bomma or Lasvit, which is well-known abroad, too. The Czech ceramics sector is also about to expand abroad. Popular Czech designers also include Milan Pekař, Michal Bačák or Maxim Velčovský, to highlight a few.
If you want to see Czech design in person, you can visit some of the annual design weeks: there are many of them around the Czech Republic, not only in Prague. For example, Meat Design Ostrava or Zlin Design Week is absolutely worth to visit (Zlin Design Week was supposed to be held between May 1- 8, but unfortunately it was postponed – the Ed.)
The COVID-19 brought some important and determining changes in our lives. How did the COVID-19 affect Czech design brands? Do you know about any helpful initiatives that were arranged by the Czech government to support Czech designers and Czech design brands?
The Czech goverment supports all small entrepreneurs with a limited monthly fee, so also a lot of designers received some money during March and April. But of course they mainly helped themselves: many of them started selling online, which proved to be effective. There was an initiative #malynakupvelkapomoc (meaning „small shopping big help” – the Ed.), the aim of which was to support small designers by calling on people to shop their products. We have an online legal help hub, where designers could send their questions about the situation and the lawyers answered them. We also offer free ads on our homepage to independent designers and small companies. (We also know about an online map/database called ČeskoTvoří, where local Czech producers and manufacturers are collected – the Ed.)
As the editor-in-chief at CZECHDESIGN, what do you think about the consequences of COVID-19 in the world of design, not only on a global, but on a local scale ?
We can still look at the problem positively. Thanks to this situation, a lot of UX ideas emerged: most of the designers here in the Czech Republic started to innovate facemasks and respirators – in a very short time they were able to create new ideas and make them useful.
Maybe we should start to focus more on design that will help us solve new era problems (including global warming). We will try to think more on a local basis instead of a global one, and this may help the whole industry become more effective and self-confident and customers will hopefully understand that there is no need to have six new vases – one made by a Czech designer is enough.