In our previous article we presented 14 exceptional brands and designers who were invited to exhibit at S/ALON BUDAPEST 2021 as part of our collaboration with the event’s official guest country, the Czech Republic. To dig deeper into the topic of why a good design culture and the promotion of creative arts is essential to the health of any society, we talked to Karel Havliček, Minister of Industry, Trade and Transport, who provided his expertise and insight into the past, present and future of design in the Czech Republic.
What do you think are the strengths of the Czech design scene?
Czech designers have a traditionally good reputation in the world (see Czechoslovak Pavilion at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels). Currently, we have a generation of successful designers (Rony Plesl, Maxim Velčovský, Olgoj Chorchoj) who continued this tradition in the 1990s and who nowadays teach and educate new and upcoming designers. There are a lot of new creative companies and designers setting up new studios. The design scene is growing every year. Czech designers are increasingly working abroad.
Along with the growth of professional designers, the number of companies that work with them is also growing. In the Czech Republic, design is increasingly used as a marketing tool to increase the competitiveness of industrial enterprises.
Why do you think it is essential for the Czech – or any - government to support local design and creative sectors? In what ways can society benefit from a well-managed creative industry?
From a business point of view, the need to support local design and creative sectors is quintessential. Mainly because a company that focuses on quality product design can gain decisive competitive advantage. That can be beneficial on the Czech market but even more importantly when it comes to export. The competition on the international field is immense and even the smallest advantage can make a difference.
That is why the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade created an incentive program called “Design for Competitiveness”. A small or medium business can choose from a wide variety of Czech designers via the Designers Database, and the CzechTrade agency will cover half of the expenses or up to 50 000 CZK of costs of individual cooperation with the given designer.
On top of that, the agency will help with covering the costs of promotion of the design via individual presentation at exhibitions abroad with the limit of 50 percent or 130 000 CZK. This form of cooperation comes with an opportunity of international recognition for the individual designers. Just this year, one cooperation that came to be through the CzechTrade Design Center went on to receive the prestigious RedDot award.
International design exhibitions are one of the driving forces behind the propagation of a healthy design culture and conscious consumer behavior. What knowledge did you bring to S/ALON BUDAPEST 2021?
The Czech Republic is known for quality design. The CzechTrade agency is a special guest at this year’s S/ALON Budapest exhibition, mainly thanks to the renewed Design Center, which has become a national platform for state design support and a key institution for the field of product design.
The mission of the CzechTrade Design Center is, among other things, to promote Czech design and its internationalization, which is why S/ALON BUDAPEST brings a unique opportunity to raise the profile of important Czech designers and innovative companies abroad.
At the event, CzechTrade Design Center presented a wide range of Czech companies: home accessories brands such as 27Ascent, Artiséme and the Kubák weaving mill, designers of lighting solutions that included Isotra, Lightway, Lucis and Tesla Lighting, the furniture businesses of Mayer CZ, Pucolano and SilentLab, singular designers, namely Hanuš Lamr, the Lexová & Smetana duo and Tereza Rosalie Kladosova, and one of the most iconic Czech brands on the international market, Škoda. The Czech designer Iva Bastlova was tasked with the challenge of creating a united concept for the Czech appearance at S/ALON BUDAPEST.
How did the past two years change the way you look at arts and the creative industry in general, and what does the future hold for the Czech design scene?
Today, the arts and creative industries not only have a social function, but are major contributors to the economy. In the 21st century, intellectual property has a higher value than just the simple manufacture of products. With continuing automation and robotization, the significance of individual talent will increase, and the need for physical work will decrease.
Cultural wealth and creativity is the greatest asset any society can possess.
This is attested to by the fact that the vast majority of the creative industry is in domestic ownership. These assets form the basis of the evolution, competitiveness and economic growth of society, and are one of the key skills of the future that need to be systematically promoted.
The role of the designer changes and develops depending on social changes. These are changes in procedures in designing new products for our populous world, the responsibility of manufacturers in production processes, and so on. Designers and manufacturers will have to solve problems, deal with environmental aspects and take responsibility for the social impact of their work.
The promotion of a healthy design culture are among the top priorities of S/ALON BUDAPEST, Hungary’s most exciting interior design fair. To this end, each year hundreds of domestic and international design brands, manufacturers and talented professionals gather at the Budapest Arena to showcase their products and share their knowledge and expertise with their peers. This year’s event has ended, but let’s meet again in 2022 for an unforgettable weekend! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and immerse yourself in the best of interior and furniture design!