Between Art and Design with Lukáš Uliarczyk
HAVING BEEN FOUNDED IN 1724 IN THE TOWN OF MŠENO, PRECIOSA IS ONE OF THE OLDEST GLASSWARE COMPANIES ON THE MARKET. A LOT HAS CHANGED SINCE THE ORIGINS OF THE ENTERPRISE – AND A LOT HAS REMAINED THE SAME. PRECIOSA’S GLASSWARE CAN NOW BE FOUND IN STORES ALL OVER THE GLOBE – ITS PRODUCTION IS HOWEVER STILL BASED ON FOUR ELEMENTS AND HAND-CRAFTED MASTERY. WE INTERVIEWED LUKÁŠ ULIARCZYK, A YOUNG DESIGNER OF THE BRAND, ABOUT PRECIOSA’S INSPIRING HERITAGE AND THE CHALLENGES HE ENCOUNTERS IN HIS WORK.
What is it that you do within the Preciosa brand?
I’m responsible for the design of the whole product portfolio of the company. This ranges from classic chandeliers to contemporary and modern pieces. I’m also the main consultant for the extern designers who work on the new interpretations of the products. I’m their closest collaborator, representing Preciosa’s values and striving to implement their creations while preserving their aesthetic vision.
Are you trying to direct the collaborations towards a certain aesthetic that you see as Preciosa’s future?
The designer is always offered a brief introduction to the history of the brand, its tradition and values. The task itself is then more abstract and creative – for example, when collaborating with Rony Plesl, the task was to create a new interpretation of two classic chandeliers. Although the collaborations differ from each other, it’s always crucial to find a balance between the technical feasibility and the abstract vision.
Besides collaborations, what is it that you’re currently working on?
At this moment we’re completely renewing the whole product portfolio. Starting with the classic models, we’re now complementing the traditional chandeliers with their modern interpretations, for example floor or table lamps. The mission is to make all of the „chandelier families“ complete.
Some of the classic models are a few centuries old. How does it feel to be a young designer of such a traditonal brand?
I have to admit that Preciosa brought a major change to my work. I’d never worked with glassware or lights before. It was the art directors of Preciosa that offered me this position while I was still at university. The biggest challenge for me was to reflect on the complexity of the chandelier design. I wondered what it was that differentiated Preciosa from the others – walking through Prague‘s centre, you see the „Bohemian crystal glass“ on every corner with prices hardly differing from ours. The Preciosa designs nevertheless avoid a superficial kitsch but are patterned on the artistic and architectural styles, which was important to realize. I found the work entertaining because it was a challenge – it represented the perfect mix of design and art. Moreover, speaking from a designer’s perspective, my work is very dynamic. Designing electronics takes a year or two. I can achieve much more in Preciosa by that time. That doesn’t mean that the manufacturing is hasty, rather that the methods allow to produce much more.
It’s interesting you mentioned dynamic – when Preciosa rather evokes tradition.
Tradition is definitely the key. However, every brand with such a rich historical heritage has to keep up with the modern age in order to remain relevant. It would be a shame to forget the three centuries of craft and art when they can be dusted off and utilized in current design. Chandeliers actually embody this contrast themselves. They’re ageless and trendy at the same time. It’s beautiful to see a classic chandelier, re-designed in 2015, hanging in an opulent, majestic space.
How does it feel to work with the historical heritage of the brand? Is it an inspiration or rather an obligation?
That’s a difficult question to answer, but I’d say: both. It’s immensely inspiring to leave my fingerprint on objects that will be admired in two hundred years from now on. The beauty of the chandeliers is however very binding. It represents demands the designer has to meet, for example the agelessness. It’s a challenge and a commitment in the same time.
The concept „Cultivation of Chandeliers. Since 1724“, which transforms historical chandeliers into the modern context, has been awarded two renowned design prices: German Design Award and iF Design Award.