A Hundred Years of Czech Design
06.04.2019 — 13.09.2020

Ladislav Sutnar, an Elephant. ©upm

Curators: Lucie Vlčková and Mariana Kubištová


Okazaki Mindscape Museum: 6 April – 19 May, 2019
Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design: 24 or 31 May – 28 July, 2019
Setagaya Art Museum: 14 September – 10 November, 2019
The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto: 6 March – 12 April, 2020
The Museum of Modern Art Kanagawa (Hayama): 11 July – 13 September 2020

This Czech design exhibition, featuring artefacts from the last hundred years, is a fine example of how both arts and crafts and technology developed in a small country in the middle of Europe, a country whose design has frequently excelled, comprising a distinctive element in the culture of Western Europe. However, it is far from simple to showcase how design developed over this period, for the history of design has not been shaped by aesthetic criteria alone and cannot be separated from contemporary developments in European society, politics, technology and other fields. Just as important is the fact that during the 20th century the Czech Lands underwent dramatic changes, coming under the domination of neighbouring countries and peoples even as the Czechs strived for political and cultural emancipation. Accordingly in some periods and styles Czech design was guided by international trends (such as Functionalism), in others it co-created a style (as was the case with Alphonse Mucha and Art Nouveau), in still others it took a somewhat different approach (as with the Czech version of Art Deco) or came up with something quite unique (for instance Czech Cubist architecture and design).

The aforementioned political and social developments are reflected in the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. They focus mainly on Czech design, with forays into other Central European countries, but they also include artefacts from Scandinavia and Italy that had a crucial influence on many Czech designers in the latter half of the 20th century. The individual items at the exhibition have been chosen to illustrate how designers’ thinking has developed, as well as the impact of new materials and new manufacturing technologies.

Finally this exhibition seeks to show what impact design has had on ordinary life, and how it has responded to people’s needs. In this respect good design can still offer inspiration today.


© 2019 The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague