Jiří Pelcl’s limited edition cactus vase for Křehký
Holešovice is a former industrial area to the northeast of the historic centre. But rather than being some distant outlying environ, when you see how quickly you can get there, it readily explains why Prague was one of the most polluted cities in Europe prior to the clean-up following the new Czech state’s birth. It is here that, like architecture practices, designers and hip bars, Křehký built a sprawling new home in a former ham factory. Křehký is a specialist design gallery that stages both thematic exhibitions of contemporary design as well as offering a regular diet of beautiful design objects and limited editions.
Křehký’s roots are in glass. It grew out of a project to profile contemporary Czech glass design and, as such, it still has a strong commitment to commissioning and showing interesting new designs in the ancient Czech art of glass. This makes it the perfect riposte –or complement– to the much more traditional Bohemian crystal and glassware one encounters all around the city, varying from stunning – and naturally expensive– antiques to rather tacky creations knocked up for the tourist market.
By contrast, Křehký occupies that territory of top-end, cutting-edge contemporary design operating at a global level. The familiar Dutch, Scandinavian and Italian names that get the international design community all excited are well represented in the exhibition line-ups and stock at Křehký. It’s also a particularly good destination for anyone interested in learning more about the up-and-coming Czech design talent that the gallery consistently supports. Somewhere between an upmarket design emporium and a contemporary art gallery, Křehký offers optimal conditions to see the output of the Young Turks of Czech design. Here you can find the wacky surrealist designs of the Czech design duo Imagery or Maxim Velčovský’s playful deconstruction of traditional folk forms in everything from Bohemian glassware to chunky furniture. In stark contrast, Tomáš Bém’s low-tech simplicity promises a no-frills future while Jiří Pelcl’s limited edition cactus vase is such a lovely development on his familiar glass designs that even the risks of a cabin bag already overstuffed with goodies may not deter you from leaving with it…
Křehký has rapidly risen on the international radar since its inception in 2007, winning numerous awards and prizes for its presentations of Czech design at top design fairs such as Designblock and the ICFF trade fair in NYC. The same meticulous detail to presentation that impressed the critics and judges on such occasions is equally applied to the presentations in its Holešovice space. As such, it’s one of those worthwhile shopping trips even if you leave empty-handed. It also provides a good opportunity to snoop around the neighbourhood where the vestiges of the old industrial Prague mingle with a new hub of creative industries and trendy leisure spots. Try timing your visit for as late in the day as possible. That way you’ll be in time for a beer or cocktail when the after-work creative set arrive in the various art bars and hip little hangouts that have taken hold in the past decade.
Křehký – Prague