Because SOFFA does not only discover interesting places, but also the people, we didn't miss a great opportunity this time either. We went to Cihelna Concept Store to interview a famous designer Milan Pekař.
How long do you engage in art?
It's getting to be menacing, but with some breaks devoted to ceramics since the age of twelve.
How did you begin? Did you study ceramics?
I started completely classically, as a child I attended ceramic lessons. Then I went to Secondary School of Applied Art in Uherské Hradiště, where the ceramics has it's own sector. Those were great years for me. I felt tremendous freedom of a small but vibrant town there. I am always very happy to come back. In the same field, I continued at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague under the direction of Professor Šerák.
So I am a prime example of the Czech professional education.
What entertained and fascinate you about this job? How did you get to it?
I wanted to be an archaeologist, but this field was already crowded, so the ceramics was the next logical choice.
Ceramics is an amazing material. On the one hand you have malleable clay, and on the other hand there is already baked pottery, which is almost eternal and capable of telling stories about us even after centuries. Even after all these years it still continues to fascinate the transformation by heat. I always need to have a quick look into a hot kiln.
Have you always created vases? Why did it cross your mind?
I don't create only vases, but recently they are most visible. Most of the ideas come slowly, and there is a lot of preparation and testing behind them.
With what materials do you like to work?
I work a lot with porcelain, but it certainly is not the only material. Lately there is a lot of experimenting.
Are all the vases made from porcelain? Why did you choose this material? What is unique about your vases?
Now, most of vases are from porcelain. It's a lot about the technology of crystalline glazes that work best at high temperatures and on a clean fragment free from various additives. Porcelain meets these criteria best. On the other hand, the works with porcelain is one of the toughest.
How does the whole process of production happen? How do the colours soak into the material?
The crystals are formed by chemical reaction. A glaze is applied on a vase and it is quickly baked at 1300°C. With such a heat the kiln melts all the ingredients together. The growth of crystalline metals is emerging step-by-step as the hot molten glass gradually cools down. The process takes several hours. Basically, it looks simple, but there are hundreds of tests and baking behind it.
Do you work on the whole production just by yourself?
I create everything from scratch at my workroom. I must modify the porcelain mass or I mix my own. I blend the glaze of basic raw materials. I most cases I do my own models and plaster moulds. It is very important to have the whole process under control. It is a complete Renaissance ideal. I bring sacks of basic raw materials the workshop and only finished products go out of this place.
How much time does it take to create a vase?
If I do not count the development of a new shape and colour (this takes months, sometimes), so under good conditions it takes 2 or 3 weeks.
In what price range does one of your vases stand?
From four thousand to fifty thousand Czech crowns, but we are talking about really big pieces.
Where do you sell your works?
You can find it at several locations in Prague, in Debut, Cihelna Concept Store and Praguekabinet.
But my works are also available in Brno, Ostrava and Plzeň.
Will we find it somewhere abroad?
I cooperate with several galleries in Europe. But primarily Mint in London, Bensimon in Paris, or Frozen Fontain in Amsterdam. Wallpaper store sells some of my vases online.
By: Eliška Krutáková | Translation: Denisa Werthanová | Photo: Diana Dea Dora Ranegger, Eliška Krutáková