Czech and Czechoslovak design boast a rich and uninterrupted history. In the early 20th century, visionaries like Pavel Janák and Josef Gočár introduced a distinctive style inspired by French cubism, leaving an indelible mark on the architecture and design landscape.
Following World War I, the newly formed republic emerged as a leader in architectural avant-garde, notably with the establishment of UP Závody (Arts and Crafts Manufacture) in Brno. Collaborating with renowned figures such as Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe, designers like Jan Vaněk played a pivotal role. Jindřich Halabala, the most celebrated among them, served as both a designer and director, leaving a timeless legacy highly prized by collectors worldwide.
The post-World War II era ushered in a challenging period under communist rule, yet design managed to escape the regime's focus, as it was not perceived as a threat to ideology. This unintentional freedom allowed designers to pursue their ideas without state intervention. Czechoslovakia's success at the 1958 Brussels Expo, despite the irony of designers being barred from actively participating due to strict travel restrictions, influenced the subsequent decade. The design of the '60s became known as the "Brussels style," with influential figures like Miroslav Navratil, Jiri Jiroutek, and Antonin Suman. This period saw the rise of timeless bentwood pieces and innovative furniture designs, resonating not only in Czechoslovakia but across Europe.
Today, the designs from the eras of Czech functionalism and the Brussels style are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, particularly among the younger generation. Their appeal extends beyond Czech and Slovakia, captivating design enthusiasts across Europe.