Building on Bohemia’s long history of glassmaking, LASVIT has fired up the industry by infusing traditional expertise with modern technology.
Endowed with an abundant supply of raw materials, Bohemia, a region in the Czech Republic, has developed unparalleled expertise in the art of glassmaking over the centuries. Successive political regimes have never extinguished the region’s artistic flame or broken the chain of knowledge passed from one generation to the next. Leon Jakimic, the founder of LASVIT, has successfully linked the past and the present, tradition with modernity, in part because of his roots. A product of four generations of glassblowers, Jakimic grew up in the industry: his uncle was a nationally renowned glass cutter with his own studio and his cousin is a designer. However, he has used his talents to take it in a different direction. “Founded in 2007, LASVIT made a point of hiring of young talents who were encouraged to experiment with new methods and new technology,
bringing a breath of fresh air to the glass industry,” explains Tomáš Kolder, the company’s public relations manager. Today, Bohemian glass—as reimagined by LASVIT—celebrates both transparency and light.
In addition to working with a myriad of Czech artists, craftspeople, and designers already familiar with the art of glassmaking, the company also welcomes international designers. “Each designer brings a unique approach to glass,” notes Kolder, who does not hesitate to describe glass as a malleable, living material. “It is a surprising material when subjected to random effects. Designers not accustomed to working with it are particularly interested in studying its potential and learning directly from our master glassmakers. These designers bring fresh ideas and a new vision. Although their requests can sometimes appear impracticable, we always rise to the challenge.” Over the years, the company has partnered with numerous designers such as André Fu, the Campana brothers, Maarten Baas, and Michael Young, all of whom have produced remarkable collaborations as part of LASVIT’s ongoing efforts to modernize the art of glassworking.
With time, slowly but surely, the company’s development has centred on pushing the limits of possibility and creativity with every project. “In the beginning, our pieces were static. Then we started adding colour and dynamic lighting, and recently began making mobile installations. One of our most ambitious projects to date was created for a casino on Saipan, an island in the Pacific Ocean. Subject to a strict 40-metric-ton weight limit, the 60-metre sculpture features two dragons constructed of metal frames covered with 13,000 stainless steel scales and 2.5 million crystals that would normally be used for earrings. Moreover, the piece was installed on an island in a seismically active region that is also subject to frequent typhoons. Designed to withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake, the installation is a blend of traditional crafts and new technology, both in its design and implementation.” The final product is impressively flamboyant and surprisingly complex, as is the Czech company’s 16-metre diameter architectural lighting sculpture made of handcrafted crystal and hand-blown glass components, mounted on the ceiling of the prefunction area of Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi. However, the kinetic exhibition (E)Motions presented in Milan in 2014 really grabbed the attention of design aficionados. “Working with a company specialized in automation, we combined the art of glassmaking with cutting edge technology to build nine unique lighting installations created by legendary architect Daniel Libeskind, designers Maarten Baas, Michael Young, Arik Levy, and Jan Plechác, and Henry Wielgus, as well as our very own art director, Maxim Velcovský.” The entire city came to admire the results.
All of these breathtaking installations reflecting LASVIT’s desire to harness glass, light, and technology are echoed in the light fixtures, accessories, and glass walls the company designs for the home as well as an iconic series of charming (or disturbing) little glass monsters sold exclusively at Latitude Nord. “We presented our Monster Cabaret exhibition at Milan’s puppet theatre, the Teatro Gerolamo,” explains Kolder. “The theme of the collection is the monsters around and within us. The designers were given free rein to express themselves. The results are incredibly varied, from ghost children and classic insects, to robotic creatures and the veiled threats of political eras. Some of the pieces presented real challenges to the glassmakers.” This collection, winner of the prestigious Milan Design Award 2018 for best exhibition, contains creations from renowned designers like Alessandro Mendini, the Campana brothers, Yabu Pushelberg, Nendo, Fabio Novembre, Daniel Libeskind, Maarten Bass, and Moritz Waldemayer, along with works from Czech artists like René Roubícek, Vladimír Kopecký, Martin Janecký, Stanislav Müller, and Maxim Velcovský, plus a vintage piece from legendary glassmaker Jaroslav Brychta.
For far too many years, mass-produced consumer products have overshadowed mouth-blown art glass and the work of master glassmakers. People have forgotten that this material, in the hands of designers, is irresistibly appealing: light catching a dragon’s scales, skimming the sculpted leaf of a mobile, illuminating a sculpture or highlighting the edges of a vase. LASVIT is largely responsible for the renewed interest in glass and its many incarnations. Overseeing approximately 300 projects a year, the Czech company has breathed new life into Bohemian glass, revitalizing an artisanal tradition that dates back 800 years. More importantly, it has
shattered outmoded perceptions about glasswork and brought this material into the 21st century—a truly illuminating undertaking.
Felix Stella in the atrium of the Intercontinental Hotel in Tianjin. Designed by Jana Ružicková, this lighting installation evokes the stars.
LASVIT’s founder, Leon Jakimic.
Inspired by the coloured tiles in the Prague metro, the Globe Metro chandelier was designed by Cyril Dundera.
From the Monster Cabaret collection, the colourful yet disturbing Rombo vase by Alessandro Mendini.