Design can heal and inspire: a Prague festival celebrates Czech artistry amid uncertainty

The 22nd edition of Designblok gives entry to a unique "garden of Eden" pop-up and shows how design helps in times of crisis

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas
Published on 06.10.2020 10:51 (updated on 06.10.2020)

The 22nd edition of Prague's largest design festival opens Wednesday. Running from October 7 to 11 it will offer design enthusiasts a fresh way to celebrate Czech artistry that complies with the latest safety measures.

Taking place this year in the space of the former St. Gabriel Monastery on Holečkova st., now called Gabriel Loci, Designblok will also give patrons access to this normally inaccessible historical site, a one-of-a-kind experience, according to Designblok director Jana Zielinski.

“We believe that despite restrictions imposed on visitors this year, Designblok is still absolutely worth the visit. Designers and producers need our support and they’ve created some amazing things that deserve our attention."

Gabriel Loci space / Photo via Designblok
Gabriel Loci space / Photo via Designblok

This year’s festival is organized around a “Designerie” area and “Passion” exhibition both conceived by acclaimed designer Jan Plecháč. It will also feature an arthouse devoted to art design as well as an exhibit on "How Design Helps".

Plecháč has been a fixture of the Czech design scene for a number of years. Together with Henry Wielgus he has collaborated with top Czech and international brands. Plecháč designed the look of this year’s Designerie, previously rendered by designers Lucie Koldová, Maxim Velčovský and Jan Rosický. 

Designerie will take over the Gabriel Loci space, which was previously a garden. 

Visualization of
Visualization of "Designerie" / via Designblok

“We are bringing verdure again to where used to be a cloister garden, be it for a few days only. We'll create a pop-up Garden of Eden and in contrast to the paradisal experience it’s made of 222 ladders, a common object, yet not earthbound, that will offer visitors an incredible perspective. And perspective is indeed what our society needs so much,” says Plecháč.

The original ladders from the Designerie exhibit will be auctioned at the venue with proceeds going to the Centrum Paraple, a charity project that helps the wheelchair-bound.

Plecháč is also behind this year’s main exhibition which reflects on the theme of his own passion for motorcycles. Over the course of five days of Designblok twelve master craftsmen, supervised by DK Garage Boss, will turn the ČZ 175 motorcycle into a unique designer jewel as designed by Plecháč.

Photo via Designblok
Photo via Designblok

To provide maximum safety to the public and the exhibitors, Designblok has adopted a number of organizational changes this year. The Gabriel Loci space is divided into several equal-sized sectors with separate entrances and exits; some are accessible with a ticket only, while others are for free. 

The number of persons present at one time in a sector will be limited. Exhibitors are evenly distributed between paid sectors A and B, so visitors will find producers, designers, fashion, and jewelry in both. Art House in Musaion, dedicated to art design, and outdoor exhibitions will be open to all visitors for free, as are the Hospodářské noviny and Reflex stages for lectures and discussions.

Besides Gabriel Loci and Musaion, events will also take place in a number of showrooms and studios in Prague. 

Origami wall, photo via Designblok
Origami wall, photo via Designblok

“This year has brought a situation that none of us expected. Czech creators in the field of design and fashion have found themselves in the face of a fundamental test...that is why I am very glad that this year's Designblok festival focuses on Czech artists and helps with the implementation of their ideas," said the mayor of Prague, Zdeněk Hřib.

Visitors will be asked to wear face masks at all times in the festival premises and shared spaces will be disinfected after each time slot.

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The 22nd edition of the Designblok international festival will take place from October 7-11, 2020. For more information visit www.designblok.cz.

Tickets start at 150 CZK and can be purchased via Expats.cz/GoOut.