Artel Glass: The new take on crystal
I lived in the land of crystal for a year and a half. Did you know that? Prague is the land of crystal- at least it is to me. When I first moved to the city, I spent time wandering around Prague 1, ducking in and out of the crystal shops that dot the city centre. I remember passing a window display one day and doing a double take- I saw a decorated crystal goblet that only makes an appearance on the table for special occasions in Toronto.
Out of all the crystal stores in Prague, one of my favourite had to be ARTĚL. There are two shops in the city that convey and approachable atmosphere, located slightly off the beaten path and full of interesting glass objects, decorative pieces, tableware and THE BEST guide book on Prague (more about that on the Artel blog). I walk in and I don’t feel like I am going to be judged for picking up an item. I can admire, I can consider and not feel like I am in a stuffy museum.
Last year, I had the good fortune to meet Karen Feldman, the founder and director of ARTĚL Glass. I was drawn to her entrepreneurial story: A New Yorker who lands in Prague in 1994, with limited savings, no experience in the glass industry outside of a personal interest. This is what I call, a steep learning curve and “against all odds” business building experience. Today, Karen has grown her company from its humble beginnings to one with clients who include Rolls-Royce, Asprey, Manolo Blahnik, Bergdorf Goodman and Gucci. Not too shabby!
Karen’s captivating business story and contemporary pieces stuck in my brain, which is why I decided to include a section on Czech crystal and an interview with Karen in Issue 03 of Countlan magazine. My realization after my time spent in Prague is that crystal does not have to be stuffy, it does not have to be a dust collector, or a material to be scared of putting on your table.
Whatever previous conceptions you may hold about Czech crystal (Bohemian crystal), it might be in need of an update. Take a look around Prague and you will see examples of smaller design shops renwing designs, colours, styles, and objects to be more in line with modern lifestyles. You could say, some have even embraced a playful element to crystal- two words you would not consider putting into the same sentence together (playful + crystal = broken crystal??)
Twice a year, in January and August, ARTĚL glass releases new motifs and designs. In January 2013 ARTĚL introduced three new motifs: One new color and two new shapes.
INTERVIEW: Karen Feldman, Owner of ARTĚL
01 What should someone look for when purchasing crystal? Are there any marks or qualities that should be present in a piece?
It is always import to check the quality to make sure there are no bubbles or imperfections, it is important to look over each piece if you are particular as each piece is made by hand individually and not too pieces will be exactly alike. Additionally if you are buying a luxury brand, such as ARTĚL or Bacarrat you want to get that it is marked on the bottom with the companies logo or monogram.
02 If someone was new to crystal and wanted to make their first purchase, what type of crystal product would you recommend (barware, stemware, decorative?)
This is a difficult question to answer as it really depends on the person. If they drink wine, then stemware, if they prefer cocktails then barware and if home décor is a focus then a lovely bowl or vase would be a great item to have. We find when people are giving gifts from ARTĚL then tend to lean toward either barware or decorative items.
03 Where do you derive your inspiration for new patterns?
Each season where my inspiration comes from varies greatly, as it can be anything from local architecture and design, to vintage books and advertising, to art and even fashion. Please see attached press release for Jungle Baroque to give you the store behind one of my recent inspirations.
04 Do you have a favourite piece from Artel?
Wow, that is an extremely difficult question to answer as I love everything we do…and we have some many choices! A few of my favorite motifs, as I can not possibly narrow it down to one, are: Verdure in color, Sakura, Empire in Color and Glacier. Depending on my mood I vary, but I love using Empire Highballs in color as everyday glasses. Sakura on special occasions and Glacier Votives ALWAYS!
05 Could you describe your home entertaining style?
Casual with a luxurious twist.
Photo Source: Artel Glass
Artel Glass’s two locations in Prague: Celetná 29 (entrance on Rybná) Prague 1 and U Lužickeho semináře 7 (Mala Strana) Prague 1