“Lighting is like drama”

4. 3. 2019

An interview with Prague studio Olgoj Chorchoj

Prague-based multidisciplinary studio Olgoj Chorchoj is one of the most exciting architecture and design firms in the Czech Republic. Their projects range from residences to furniture to jewellery and beyond. Preciosa Lighting has been lucky enough to collaborate with them on three different projects over the years. We spoke with co-founder Michal Fronek to learn more about the studio, their projects and what he appreciates when working with glass and light.

We are focused on industrial design and architecture as well as limited edition projects,” Mr. Fronek explained. “I like to combine everything, the door handle with a beautiful pattern on the floor, plus the garden and interior lighting. Our team has architects, designers and engineers, we do renovations, new build and interiors and our work is a combination of all the knowledge and skills we’ve gained through the years.”

Mr. Fronek says he first encountered Preciosa Lighting about 15 years ago and was both surprised and impressed.

“There’s an amazing story behind the company and I was impressed by the workshops, the history, the bronze details, it enticed me,” he said. “It’s a trustworthy brand because of the contemporary skills and technology along with the old craftsmanship, the details.”

Mr. Fronek’s first experience with a glass factory came much earlier than that however.

“The first time I was in a glass workshop I was 20 years old and I fell in love immediately,” he said. “In a few minutes the glass was in your hands and in a few hours on your desk. The process for me was magical. I’ve learned a lot about glass technology since that time and have worked with various glass companies, types of glass and it has all had an impact on my vision, glass is always a part of the concept.”

Preciosa and Olgoj Chorchoj’s most recent collaboration came as part of the International Glass Symposium(IGS) held in October 2018. The light that was designed was the realization of a long-time dream for Mr. Fronek and his team.

“We wanted to create a fusion of two crafts, to see if it would be possible, using glass and bent wood from Czech manufacturer Ton,” he said. “We tried to put them together, create a light object, a fusion between the wood and the glass. It was something we really wanted to try for many years and we got to test it out for IGS.”

Kavarna Mysak is a Prague and Czech institution, albeit in a modern form. The original cafe had its heyday in the First Republic but time was not kind to the cafe or building. Olgoj Chorchoj was recruited to painstakingly bring the café back to life. They used period photographs to guide them in order to keep as much of the original design and charm as possible. The team took inspiration from two very different sides of history for this custom lighting. First, the traditional possibilities available for creating hand-crafted glass and metal objects in Preciosa’s factory and second, Mysak itself. The café’s original treats boasted a range of sweet-to-eat animals and the décor also featured interesting motifs to be inspired by. Olgoj Chorchoj used these ideas to include different crystal objects on its lighting, including mice, snakes, and pineapples. Based on their designs, Preciosa created simple chandeliers with white lacquered bases and hand-made crystal figurines.

The third project between the pair was in a renovated multiuse space in Prague called MeetFactory.

“This is a typical example of what we do and like, a total renovation of a historic building,” Mr. Fronek said. “It was originally the Prague ham factory, which is an important part of the story and made it quite easy to bring the proper context out of the existing building. We designed a studio for an artist, it was an industrial space but we wanted something decadent so we decided on a chandelier.”

Like most designers, Mr. Fronek and his team believe in the importance of considering and working with lighting no matter the space.

“Lighting is like drama, you can spotlight some things, light up what’s important--it brings life, and creates the space,” he said. “It helps you a lot, sometimes it's daylight, sometimes it is artificial light, both are different, both are important. It’s important to work with lighting professionals, sometimes for technical reasons and sometimes because you want to create a masterpiece, a one-off product with a company like Preciosa.”