Design Hunt in Prague
by Alessandro Preda·
It's design week (designblok.cz/en) in Prague–one of our favorite central European cities for architecture and design. We have selected five places–plus two bonus tracks for the caffeine to embrace your inner design geek on your next trip to the Czech capital.
1) Visit the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art. This former industrial factory in the Holešovice area of Prague was transformed into a 3000 sqm multi-functional exhibition area. A successful adaptive-reuse project, in 2008, DOX was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award and included in The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. Aside from the exhibitions, the program includes abundant live concerts and performances.
Dox centre for contemporary art
Photo credit: "Gulliver Zepplin at Dox Museum Prague" by nan palmero is licensed under CC BY 2.0
2) Sign up for a tour of Adolf Loos' iconic Mullerova Vila, a 1930's modernist villa built in Prague's Střešovice neighborhood. The architecture embodies Loos's spatial theory of the Raumplan, whereby architecture is conceived as a continuum of multi-level visually connected spaces. The luxurious material palette, deliberate use of color, and exceptional furniture–designed by Loos–represent a high point of the total design. In the house-museum bookstore, you can find replicas of the original building set and beautifully curated books with interior details.
Villa Muller by Adolf Loos Photo Credit: Hpschaefer http://www.reserv-art.de, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
3) Discover Czech cubism at the Czech Cubist House at the Black Madonna.
A remarkable collection of furniture and objects with a cohesive aesthetic inspired by cubist ideals. From Pavel Janák's chairs and ceramic vases to Josef Gočár's cabinet. The building that houses the museum is housed in a building by Gočár himself. The facade and grand staircase are especially enticing.
Grand staircase at the Czech Cubist House
If you are a fan of sharp edges, you can continue the hunt by visiting the Cubist buildings scattered around the city: http://www.czkubismus.cz/en/file/156a883654c19131568d56e67c2fcd55/57/mapa_A3_ENG_el.pdf
4) Visit the National Technical Library, a brilliant example of how a modern building can blend into a historical neighborhood and provide a public space for the community:
Aside from admiring the grand architecture, it's an excellent place for co-working, surrounded by thousands of volumes, grabbing a coffee, or buying a book in the book shop.
5) Get a pair of Botas 66–the legendary Czech sneakers born in Skuteč, in the Pardubice Region, in 1966. This unique design product is manufactured by Czech shoemakers whose tradition dates back to the 16th century.
"Botas Classic 66 retro" by ntr23 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Here are some tips on our favorite coffee shops:
Café Savoy. Open since 1893, this grand cafe is a fantastic place to start the day. From the wall wood paneling to the decorated ceiling to the elegant staff in bow-ties, this space exudes a grandeur that makes it easy to be transported into another era. Café Savoy is close to the Vlatava river bank, to the Kampa museum (Museum of modern art in the center of Prague, https://www.museumkampa.cz/en/) and Kampa Park :
Místo. A contemporary counterpoint to the Café Savoy, Místo offers a variety of freshly roasted spiced coffee. This sleek cafe mixes wood-paneled walls, contemporary furniture, concrete floors and counters, and colorful graphics. It's located in the posh neighborhood of Dejvice.
What souvenir to bring home from Prague? Delicious beer comes to mind. However, if you need something more practical/portable, stop by the John Lennon Wall. It is a pleasant experience to notice how this wall, ever since 1980, keeps changing, covered by love and freedom graffiti with songs and poems inspired by the Beatles. Just behind it, in a gracious courtyard, you will find a cute little shop, Artisème, selling t-shirts and posters with pictured the most beautiful fragments of the wall. You can also find unique objects hand-made by Czech designers.
John Lennon Wall in Prague
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