Shoes that are conquering the world

Zlín, 1–3 May 2014

Interview


Martin Růžička, senior curator for Meet Czech Design in Zlín and the organizer of Talent Design
 

How do you rate this year's Talent Design?

I am glad that our competition has taken a major leap forward over the last five years . Not a step, but literally a leap. I am delighted that so many people came and that the Congress Center was filled to capacity. It was clear from the first reaction of visitors it seems that everyone is satisfied. It was such a nice, relaxed, creative evening.

After the last five years, you can compare the work of several years of students. In what ways do they most differ?

Five years ago we started with 76 designs and this year there were over 510 from all over the world - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Germany, France, India. The view of their quality is individual, it is a matter of opinion. I believe that as the competition grows in number, the quality will come along with it. Thus, as the competition is better known, the best are motivated to send their competitive entries to us.

How did Indian students learn about Talent Design?

We work with various design sites worldwide. When announcing a new year, we send information via the Internet to the entire world, which is how they can learn about us
 even in India.

At the end of this year, the new year was also announced. What can we expect next year?

I believe that we will stay with five categories, which is the model that we witnessed from last year. Furthermore, the competition is still free for participants and signing up is very simple; just fill out the application form on the Internet.

Have you seen the kind of talent that could really rock the world during these five years among the finalists?

Today, we introduced all winners of past years, and what is interesting is that everyone agreed that winning the Talent Design got them somewhere. Whether they already got some references, or they had an interview somewhere, on the basis of which employers noticed them. The competition is a means for these young designers to get their name out there. No one is waiting on them, they have to sell themselves. We will certainly hear more about all the finalists and in 15 years it will be interesting to see where they have ended up. 

 

Michal Froňěk
Michal Froněk, designer and co-founder of Olgoj Chorchoj
 

Do you ever say to yourself retrospectively, that you could have designed something better?

A designer must be able to forget. At the moment of handing over the work, he knows that he did the best he could. In industrial design, by contrast, you must constantly improve - smaller battery, better surface, things quickly grow outdated. Sometimes it's a combination of both. An example is laminate chairs, which at one time were frozen in their time. However someone came back to them and said that they will make them from a different material and using a different method. In doing so, the first impression is very similar.
Philippe Starck said that he was not interested in the things that already were, but that he looks to what will be in the future. On the other hand I feel responsibility for what I'm doing or have done.
 
Is it possible in Czech conditions to cultivate a wider group of people or only those who have the skill for design?

It varies. For example I convinced TON, paradoxically, to raise the price, in order to have enough for marketing. These great bentwood chairs cost only 1200 CZK, which is only possible in the Czech Republic. Generally it is more of an elitist brand here. They have those kinds of gifts for anniversaries or weddings. I like to design simple things that can be sold commercially, and I am so glad that it is produced in Central Europe and that this industry will remain here with us.
 
In your Zlín lecture you summarized the history and development of the Olgoj Chorchoj studio. How have you been perceived by the public over the years?
      

The public's attitude to us underwent a fundamental change. Before our designs were based on impulse and desire. Today, people come to us themselves so that we can design for them. Good designs = good business. It's logical that we have built up trust over 25 years. 
 
Why do you design?

I do not want to say the cliché, that I was born for it. But designing, shaping and aesthetics are my lifeblood. I do it for myself, but also for others.
 

 

Obdřej Kafka
Ondřej Kafka, designer and founder of Font magazine


Why are you interested in design?

I make my living from design. Since childhood I was attracted to painting, then I went to a graphic arts school and right after that we established the studio. We founded Font magazine back in 1991. I really enjoy the topic of design. I deal with it both in practice and theoretically - meaning analysis, interviews and trends.

What prompted you to get involved with Font?

We felt that we could do new things. I learned how to typeset letters while I was still in school. My coursework topic "Use of computers in typography" was rejected on account of the fact that it wouldn't be used. So we bought our first computer and began to learn how to use it.
The impetus for the creation of Font was actually that we started writing about what interested us individually. Others had the same problems; we all learned as we went. So for example, we made ​​a step by step guide on how to do retouching.

How do you make a logo?

It depends on what the situation is. A new logo begins with analysis - what the company wants to do, who is the target audience, where the logo will be used, whether there are any products and sub-brands, if it will be used abroad, you know, just the basic information. On this basis, we then create several designs and prepare a graphic manual for the winning design. 

Is it better to create a new logo, or upgrade an old one?

If some type of logo already exists, we carefully consider whether it is possible to redesign it and whether there is something to build on. Sometimes just a little is enough. For example, we just cleaned up the Tatras logo and changed the color. Meanwhile, at the beginning it was the task of a certain American who suggested that it would be just fine to create a brand new logo. I had to convince him that we would just do a facelift, so that those who already knew the brand well would still recognize it.

How often is it worth it to innovate a logo?

There is a simple answer to that. Logos need to be replaced right when they become obsolete. The hard thing is to know when that occurs. The average lifespan of a logo is 5-10 years. However, quite often it is external interventions that cause a company to change its logo, such as when it becomes part of a group and the logo has to fit another body. There are companies for which we did a logo 15 years ago, and it still works.

Which logos are so good that they have lasted decades?

For example, Baťa, seeing as we are in Zlín. A classic example is Coca-Cola. If someone came up with it nowadays he would be fired. In retrospect, it is terrible kitsch, but the fact that the brand has a history makes it work. Similarly as with alcohol brands. The older the brand the better, which refers to the tradition. On the other hand, Apple has changed its logo very often. With each series it has constantly had to demonstrate innovation. Automakers are in a similar boat.


 

Lucie Koldová
Lucie Koldová, a multiple winner of the Czech Grand Design Award
 

What is your earliest memory of design?

That I know exactly. When I was eight years old I made a three-color clay vase in art school. It was hellish, three levels. We put it in the kiln, and then I actually used it.

Which material do you like working with the most?

My favourite material is glass. I discovered it when I started working with lights, it was my dream and propelled me on to do more work. Glass is solid as well as brittle, which resonates with my characteristics. They are opposites that work together well.

You have a studio in Paris. How does the public's approach to design differ in this country and in Paris?

In Paris they have decorative art more in the blood. From childhood they are surrounded by high level culture, and so their approach to design is more natural. For us, the public is divided into two groups. Those who are devoted to it, and those who are untainted by it.

What does design mean for you personally?

Design is a discipline through which I get to know myself. I enjoy connecting illusions and ideas with real life. At the same time for me it is about connecting with people. I like complexity and sophistication. 


 

Maria Nina Václavková, winner of Talent Design 2013, student at the University of West Bohemia, Pilsen  
 
 

What material do you like to work with the most?

I work mostly with leather. No one has ever thought up a better material for shoes and moreover leather is the most natural for our feet.

You linked your winning rectangle shoes with a certain historical period. Why did you choose it?

The idea to work with a historical period was actually an assignment in school. I chose prehistory; I wanted to go back to the very beginning of human history. At that time, man wrapped his feet in the still warm and moist skin of a slaughtered animal, and it took the shape of his feet. It's actually very natural.

How is walking in Rectangle shoes?

On account of their simple style, the shoes have an open heel, and are easily put on and most importantly hold on well. Walking in them is just like walking in other shoes with a high platform. Personally, I haven't walked in them much; I have a smaller size than the prototype.

What are your plans now?

I will continue with prehistoric inspiration and I will probably design handbags and other accessories to go with the shoes. 

 

Ivana Kaňovská, applied arts designer, fashion designer 



Are you more of a fashion designer or applied arts designer? Do you focus more on fashion or applied arts?

I feel more like an applied arts designer because, in my studies, I focused more on industrial design, sculpture, and textile design. Of course fashion belongs to design as well, so it's all pleasantly intertwined.

What types of materials do you enjoy working with?

I most enjoy working with metal, which is often incorporated into my collection. At the same time, I am a seeker of new materials. During my doctoral studies, I am constantly seeking and investigating new materials, often completely non-textile materials, which I apply to the human body as part of my garment creations. It's essentially a sculpture on the human body.
I often work with laminate, various types of nylon horsehair, silicones; I like to cast moulds. I use vacuum forming and 3D technology, so I am truly embarking further down the path of industrial design.

In your opinion, which material do you think will emerge on top in the future?

In recent years, the trend has been 3D printing, which is being used in a variety of different fields, from medicine to industrial and automotive design. 3D printing is the future, and it will soon crush all other technologies that have been used thus far.

Your show today for Shooting Fashion Stars is also the first in your hometown. Are you going to be returning home more often?

I would love to. If I get the opportunity to present my work in such an amazing venue as Eva Jiřičná's Convention Centre, well then it is an honour for any artist or designer.

Janina Šlemínová, organiser, Shooting Fashion Stars 

In Zlín, Shooting Fashion Stars became a part of Meet Czech Design. What is your view of Czech fashion?

I have been involved in Czech design for at least ten years, for the same length of time that Shooting Fashion Stars has been in existence. Czech fashion is on the rise, and I dare say that it is now perceived better at home and abroad, and is very inspirational.

Which names did you help shoot into the starry sky through Shooting Fashion Stars?

We really do shoot designers into the skies of fashion. These names are already widely recognised. We help them grab the attention of the media and find new customers. They include Jakub Polanka and Kateřina Geislerová, both of whom are active not only in Bohemia and Moravia, but in Paris as well, which is an immense success for Czech fashion. Another noteworthy name is Ivana Kaňovská, whom we saw in Zlín, and her approach is entirely distinct. And then there's also Zuzana Kubíčková, who is now able to make a living in fashion. There have been almost 50 of these names over the past ten years.

Thanks to Meet Czech Design in Zlín, you travelled within the borders of the Czech Republic for the first time. Are you planning to continue your travels to other cities around the Czech Republic?

The tenth anniversary truly does tempt one to take stock and make plans for the next era. Zlín is just the beginning. We have already had the opportunity to present our designers abroad, and, conversely, invite foreign designers to come to the Czech Republic. We have presented in Spain, Germany, Slovakia, and other countries. We would like to make it possible for our talented designers to study abroad. We are currently working on being able to offer them scholarships to study abroad or international internships in the next year.



Martin Babic, organiser, Městské Zásahy ve Zlíně [Urban Interventions in Zlín]
 

Through the Městské Zásahy project, the professional and general public had the opportunity to express themselves about anything they would like to change in the city. What were the most common issues?

People are still feeling the reverberations of the smeared gestures of not entirely successful undertaken projects. Many people talk about the "torso" on Jižní Svahy, the crossing on Dlouhá Street, and the courthouse building. It is a former beer brewery and boasts vaulted ceilings, which is something you don't often see in Zlín.
People approached the public discourse with a positive attitude as an opportunity to express themselves. I value the fact that everyone was able to name the things they do not like in a civil manner. Not one of the 330 contributions had to be censored :-).

What are the chances that one of the proposed solutions might actually be implemented?

The Městské Zásahy exposition is comprised of two groups of contributions: those from the general public, and those from architects. A portion of them are visions whose implementation is dependent on finances. Then there are the small items that we are able to implement, such as the regulation of "advertising smog." The form and composition of advertising here is limping behind the West. When you come back to the Czech Republic from abroad, don't you also feel like advertisements are screaming at you from every corner?

Which proposal did you personally like the most?

Městské Zásahy is not a contest; it is an open forum for expressing opinions. Perhaps we can stimulate a nationwide discussion. Every proposal was a valuable contribution. I am glad that, thanks to us, the people outside can view the world around them with open eyes.


 

Michal Richtr
Michal Richter, consultant in corporate identity design 

Why do companies and corporations need good design?

I am convinced that design is a phenomenon of the times. The differences between the quality of various products and services are blurring, technical parameters are similar, and design represents the final element that can still be changed. Additionally, design is a source of emotional surplus value, on the basis of which the customer chooses a particular product or service. This is why it should not only be functional, but must also be effective and attractive.

In the past 20 years, what has changed in the approach to corporate communication?

The foundation of corporate style is usually a logo or brand, which is the foundation of the identity of a specific organisation or company. Just twenty years ago, corporate style still comprised of simply affixing a logo to a vehicle fleet or marketing materials. Gradually, supplementary visual elements began to be added, and companies' visual style became more diverse, more playful. The current trend is that corporate style is no longer tied to the rules of the mechanical application of a brand; every element of corporate communication can have its own visual form, but there must always be some sort of interplay or consistency.

Which Czech companies would you commend on their style?

This view is extremely subjective. This is why, after 1990, even the Corporate Style exposition has been based on subjective selection. In my eyes, I prefer certain types of branding, and I am convinced that they are exactly what visual style should look like. I like branding that can characterise a company and describe the subject of its activities. This is why I like, for instance, the logo and visual style of Ostrava. Its logo is brilliantly simple, and embodies the philosophy, "We are Ostrava, and who is more?" 
 

Olga Jurášková, Vice-Dean for Development and Social Affairs at the Faculty of Multimedia Communications at Tomáš Baťa University in Zlín 
 

Your field of expertise is communications. What is your view of design?

Design is life: everything in which I live and that surrounds me; my favourite cup for green tea, a dress that I wear when I've had a difficult day, the down comforter under which I would like to rest after that difficult day. Quality of life is not just in the volume of all that we have, but in what these things are and what life with them is like.

Why is corporate identity important to a company?

Corporate identity is very important, when a company controls it, knows what it is doing, which direction it is going, and how it is distinct. Because to be distinct is a crucial element these days.

What marketing discipline do you think emerging companies should invest in first?

The most important investment is the quality design of their own brand – choose the right colours, prepare a basic manual. The foundation is in a well thought-out design. It has to be visible among the other brands.

In your profession, you work in public relations. Does it have anything in common with design?

Effective design needs effective communication. Young designers have amazing ideas, but without PR, nobody would ever know about them. Without design, life would be greyscale, without PR, design would never make it to the people.

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