We’re out a lot, we’re a bit sloppy, and we love childish games. Of late, our 4 a.m. musical chairs sessions have revealed a few things. Firstly, there really is an explanation for the bruises on our hips, honest. More importantly, candidate chairs must be tried and tested before the libations and games commence. We prefer chairs by Czech designer Jan Plecháč. Prague born and based, the handsome Plecháč knows a thing or two about industrious sitting spots, having spent a year finalizing his thesis project which reaped him 2011’s Czech Grand Design “Discovery of the Year” and a coveted entry into the Salon Satellite at Milan Design Week. “I thought it would be great to wipe the border between interior and exterior furniture,” the designer says over the phone from Prague. “To be able to take furniture from the living room to the garden or the terrace.”
Plecháč’s designs—four chairs, two stools, and an accompanying side table—leave us yearning in the décor department for our planned Sunday morning garden party soirée (rain or shine). The pieces are based on iconic chairs throughout design history, stripped of their upholstery and left skeletal. The most striking—and Plecháč’s favorite—is the Louis chair, in effigy to (and a comical take on) the traditionally elegant neoclassical style armchair. Other Plecháč tribute subjects include Gerrit Rietveld’s early De Stijl masterpiece Red and Blue chair from 1917, Josef Hoffmann’s modernist Kubus chair from 1910, and Ray Eames’ walnut stools from 1960.
Plecháč was, at first, merely inspired by these pieces. It took a minute for this appreciation to meet the drawing board. “I don’t know how I began to think about furniture,” he shares. “I guess I just thought about old stuff. I really like old stuff. Old design, old cars, old house, people’s old chairs. But that’s design; it’s full of old stylish things in new ways.”
The market has seemed to take to Plecháč’s historical revisionism, as he proudly reports new orders from Chicago, Miami, and Milan, the scale of which requires that he himself is in the studio alongside his metalsmith. The sales are satisfying, but the honing of his craft has been several years in the works. Plecháč spent six years studying a double degree in architecture and design at the Prague Academy of Arts. “It’s really nice to do everything without borders,” he says about how his education has pushed him. “There are no borders between architecture and design. The iconic chairs were mostly designed by architects. The connection is really nice between these two things.”
For many fashionable designers, functionality isn’t always top priority, but Plecháč manages to bridge the style/utility divide—at least for humans. He jokes, “I put Frankie, my French Bulldog, inside the Kubus chair. It was so funny because the dog was so stressed out. The wire frame furniture is not so great for a pet.” (Plecháč does mention, though, that his pieces are an adequate sanctuary for feathered friends.)
Fauna jokes, accolades, and a hefty order queue aside, Plecháč still exudes the restlessness of any newly graduated artist. “I finished the prototypes a year ago,” he says firmly. “I have new ideas now.” Where might these ideas be exercised? Plecháč cites Berlin, New York, or London as the ideal venue. “There is no connection between designers and companies in the Czech Republic,” he explains. “Maybe the social situation is not open-minded, maybe the people are not open-minded.” Perhaps the post-Eastern bloc conservatives of the Czech Republic ought to just press play, tip their mugs, and look to find a chair.