An exhibition of the work of students and graduates of the Studios of Glass and Product Design of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague presents two diverse approaches to the material of glass: a more logical, industrial approach and an artistic one employing specific glassmaking technologies and the glass tradition of the Czech Republic in combination with young artists and designers unfettered by the restrictions that await students in later practice. One big aim of the exhibition is to demonstrate the firm centre of gravity of the glass industry, which until recently was one of the fundamental export areas of the Czech Republic and at present is again regaining its firm position.
The project by Rony Plesl’s Studio of Glass Design demonstrates an approach that is concerned with a more liberal method of working with glass as a material. In cooperation with the glass foundry of Martin Štefánek, the students were experimenting with demanding techniques that are difficult to imitate. The resulting pieces are quality, hand-crafted and finished reproductions. Rony Plesl also presents a pleiad of the best graduates from his studio this year, thus supporting them in their first step into the world beyond academia. The students were working on their degree projects in collaboration with, for example, the companies Bohem, Preciosa and Moser.
The second part of the exhibition is of work by students of Michal Froněk and Jan Němeček’s Studio of Product Design and presents a different leadership vision in collaboration with more industrial-oriented companies that achieve quality by the use of high-level design. It presents luminous objects made from combinations of various materials based on different technologies supported by the glass company Bomma.
Alongside presenting the actual works, the exhibition also shows what the possibilities are of cooperation between the students of the Academy and industrial enterprises, on both a practical and an experimental level. In the words of the Vice-Rector of UMPRUM, Dr. Filip Suchomel, PhD, the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague and the Czech glass industry presents themselves in all the areas they are concerned with, as well as in the positions in which they are situated in combination with students of the Academy.
The supervisors of the GLASSMANIA project are the heads of the Glass Studio, Rony Plesl, and the Product Design Studio, Michal Froněk and Jan Němeček:
The Czech designer Rony Plesl graduated from UMPRUM in 1990. He is an internationally sought-after and award-winning artist, whose glass objects hold a privileged position in art collections in Germany, USA, the Netherlands and Japan. He exhibits regularly abroad and his work can be seen, for example, in the interior of the Hotel Zoom and Bellevue Restaurant. He has led the Glass Studio at the Academy in Prague since 2008.
UMPRUM graduates Michal Froněk and Jan Němeček founded their Studio Olgoj Chorchoj in 1990 (today it employs ten architects and designers). The studio handles industrial and furniture design, but especially architecture and interior design. Over the years, they have been repeatedly awarded the honourable mention of the Grand Prix of the architectural community and the Interior of the Year award. Their work is represented in private collections as well as in important museums (the Museum of Applied Arts in Prague and in Brno, the Metropolitan Museum in New York). Since 1991 they have led the Studio of Product Design at the Academy in Prague.
The Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague was established in 1885. It became a prestigious educational platform in the fields of design, architecture, fine art, photography and film animation, nurturing internationally recognised creative personalities, among the most important of which are the glass artists Stanislav Libenský and František Vízner, the designer Ladislav Sutnar and the artist and puppeteer Jiří Trnka. Today, there are six faculties in the academy, divided up into individual studios led by Rony Plesl, Maxim Velčovský, Olgoj Chorchoj, Federico Díaz, Jiří Pelcl, Liběna Rochová, Eva Eisler and others. Each year, UMPRUM arranges a selective exhibition and is very active in domestic and foreign presentations and events. Its students and graduates have won numerous awards, including the Czech Grand Design Awards, and have gained internships and jobs in high-profile brand name companies. In recent years, Antonín Šimon was given a design opportunity with Raf Simons, Lucie Koldová worked in Arik Levy’s Paris studio, Eliška Kuchtová has been working for Camper and Jan Plecháč and Henry Wielgus have been designing for Cappellini. The Academy is intensively developing collaborations with Czech manufacturers such as the carmaker Škoda Auto, the footwear manufacturers Botas and Baťa and glassworks such as Bomma, Ajeto, Preciosa and Moser. The UMPRUM campus is located in the historical centre of Prague.