Playful and Smart

Every year Dick Spierenburg, creative director of the International Interiors Show IMM Cologne, travels around the world to interview promising young designers and review their work. One of them is then invited to present his or her vision on domestic space at the fair, in a special 180 m2 enclosure dubbed ‘Das Haus’. 

To be invited has developed into something of an item. Since its first edition in 2012, Das Haus has proven to be a breakthrough moment for young designers, introducing them to the international public. it did so for Sebastian Herkner (2016), Luca Nichetto (2013) and Doshi Levien (2012). Last September, on a windy Tuesday afternoon, we photographed Czech designer Lucie Koldova (1983) in the parking lot of Theater aan Zee in Scheveningen, the harbour of The Hague in the Netherlands. The star of a press conference hosted by IMM Cologne, Koldova has just explained her view of Das Haus, the experimental home-setting that is part of the important annual furniture and interior fair in Cologne. Dressed in a graphic outfit by Czech fashion designer Liběna Rochova, Koldova took the presentation to the level of a powerful one-woman show: a surprisingly large production of mostly lamps and luminaries, mixed with some unequivocally clear statements and down-to-earth humour. ‘For one, I have decided to make Das Haus ‘kitchen-less’. Something of a pun of course, but it delivers a statement anyway. Because once we are done with the kitchen, that legendary sink is also out of sight. ‘Work hard,’ my mother told me, ‘stick to the important things and don’t bother with the little ones, like cooking.’ And as it so happens, I would rather visit a restaurant than cook a meal. Practically, I lack the time,’ Lucie smiles. Part of this habit was encouraged by living in Paris, working hard at Arik Levy’s studio, after finishing her studies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague in 2009.


‘Paris was all about networking, about drinks after work,’ she said. ‘And men have it easy. It’s easy for them to talk with each other, they’re allowed to be more social. Before anything else I like to remain playful in my approach, without making something like a gender manifesto. I like playing with materials, turning things upside down and experimenting. That’s what you might call a signature. I’ve been developing this like an attitude since art school, looking at my living conditions as a student; combining, rethinking and coming up with new ideas for the small rooms we lived in. The fascination with lamps already existed in my very first work. A lamp like the Versa literally turns the archetypal shape of a table lamp upside down, transforming the shade into the base. Metaphorically speaking, we took that same attitude when developing the Macaron lamps for Brokis. Using some of the sweetest inspirations of Paris to come up with a completely new lamp in the form of a delightful, iconic cookie. It’s outline and the use of an indirect light source, hidden in the base, makes it a refined, sensual design and also a feminine object, in my view.’


In 2010 Lucie (whose name means ‘light’) began designing for Brokis, the Czech brand started by engineer and entrepreneur Jan Rabell. Rabell managed to revive the Bohemian glass industry by adapting the age old craft of glassblowing to new technology. And Brokis used exceptional new designs. Today the firm stands tall as the largest manufacturer of glass lamps in the country with Lucie Koldova leading the design department as an art director. ‘I grew into this work relationship while still in Paris. The Muffin Lamp was my first work in glass and it gained an international audience for my name as a designer. This success helped me deicide to return to Prague and move my studio. But living in France for four years influenced me big time. It’s all there, you’re embraced in a pluriformity of styles and new concepts that push the boundaries in art, architecture, design and fashion. Of course, some of this is developing in Prague too, but we are mostly catching up to things that have already become trendy somewhere else, somewhat earlier. Because I like to be on top of things I travel a lot and combine business and pleasure. That’s life, isn’t it?’


Dick Spierenburg and the organizers of IMM Cologne commissioned Koldova to create ‘a poetic study of light’ for the Das Haus presentation 2018. ‘Something of a challenge, but it fits my character beautifully. Most of my products that use light, glass and other materials like stone and wood, define the material and the object but also create intangible qualities: ambience. Impressions may vary, depending on the time of day, whether the light is on or off. I’ve divided five functions – relaxation or sleep, meditation, bathing, inspiration (a small office space) and dressing – over five rectangular rooms, grouped around a living area. I’ve designed new luminaries and a glass basin. Other furnishings are pieces by people I admire, from companies I work with. I’m trying to make little stories, in both a creative and poetic way. The house is minimalistic, but all in all it represents what I think is smart, good-looking and what makes sense for what I consider a home feeling, or a feeling of well-being. 

This article and more beautiful features will be published in our No8 issue due in stores the second of february!