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JANA SEMERÁDOVÁ JIŘÍ MACEK
Jana Semerádová, managing Director of the Profil Media agency, and Jiří Macek, Creative Director of Profilmedia. As part of the agency’s work, focusing on curatorial and production work for design and new media, they organise the Designblok festival in Prague, and Datatransfer, a festival of visual styles. In 2001 they began publishing Blok magazine, covering design, fashion and lifestyle.

NO LIMITS

AN INTERVIEW WITH JANA SEMERÁDOVÁ AND JIŘÍ MACEK, CONSULTANTS FOR THIS CHAPTER

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST INTERESTING ABOUT CONTEMPORARY CZECH DESIGN?
Jana: Originality, and a sense of humour. Jiří: Its rapid progress, and the number of talented young designers with a wide range of different approaches.

WHAT DID THAT PERIOD CONTRIBUTE TO CZECH DESIGN?
Jana: Companies are now beginning to realise that if they want to be competitive, they have to have good quality products, in terms of technology and aesthetics, and so they’re increasingly turning to designers. Companies are beginning to take more care over the quality of their products, and their presentation – websites, marketing, and so on. Jiří: Czech designers no longer operate solely within the Czech Republic, and that’s very important. International experience from exhibitions and specific commissions can help them become aware of their own approach to design, and how to make use of that.

WHAT EVENTS IN RECENT YEARS DO YOU THINK HAVE HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON CZECH DESIGN?
Jana: Czech design has been fundamentally influenced by the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design. There are new technologies and materials – perspex, corian – that have influenced the look of products. Designers are also free to travel, and are therefore influenced by design trends in other countries. Jiří: The Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design – not only does it teach students, but it also initiates many exhibitions, such as Prague: Session and Design Air, to mention just two exhibitions that won international acclaim.

WHAT WERE YOUR CRITERIA FOR SELECTING INDIVIDUAL EXHIBITS?
Jana: That was primarily based on the designer’s personality. Contemporary design can’t be judged in terms of its timelessness, or its tried and tested functionality. That’s why we chose designs by outstanding contemporary designers, their most characteristic and innovative work.

IS THERE ANYTHING FROM THOSE YEARS THAT YOU WOULD CALL TYPICALLY CZECH?
Jana: Pavel Nedvěd… Jiří: There are certain materials that designers in this country use most often, because they have a long tradition here. Just about everyone in the Czech Republic designs something in glass or porcelain at some point. That includes most households. Everyone in the Czech Republic is to some extent a designer, or rather a DIY enthusiast. Luckily, the days when that was the only way to get what you wanted are over now.

IF YOU WERE ON A DESERT ISLAND AND COULD TAKE THREE OBJECTS FROM THAT PERIOD WITH YOU, WHICH ONES WOULD THEY BE? Jana: Pavel Nedvěd – I want to learn how to play football properly. The Škoda Roomster – that’s a multipurpose car. And the third thing would be Martin Hašek’s Tajone chair (and not only on account of its name). Jiří: Criss Cross by Olgoj Chorchoj. Getting a light to shine on a desert island would be an interesting challenge. And its shape would be very appealing for helicopters. As Man Friday I’d take Pavel Ivančic’s Mermaid. We could blink together.