Zbyněk Hřivnáč - One of Them
Armachairs for Czechoslovak OSN Mission in Geneva, design by Jan Šrámek, Zbyněk Hřivnáč and Oldřich Novotný, 1969; image courtesy of Zbyněk Hřivnáč archive
From a global view of history of design, the Czech design scene still remains at the edge of historical periods and styles. Despite that fact, some great Czech designers have found themselves in an international context in the past. Ladislav Sutnar and his postwar graphic work in the USA or Bořek Šípek and his variations of postmodernism during the late 1980s most likely represent the most famous Czech design examples. However, a lifetime work by Zbyněk Hřivnáč and his colleagues can be viewed as more international in regard to international style than anything else. Paradoxically, his work remains totally unknown even in the Czech Republic.
Czechoslovak OSN Mission in Geneva, interiors by Jan Šrámek, Zbyněk Hřivnáč and Oldřich Novotný, architecture by Karel Filsak, Karel Bubeníček a Jan Šrámek, 1969; image courtesy of Zbyněk Hřivnáč archive
Zbyněk Hřivnáč, who was born in 1932 close to Opava, Moravia, belongs to a group of creative minds that could participate in designs from the large architectural and interior commissions of the former Czechoslovak state between the 1950s and 1980s. Until recently, he has still been hidden in the anonymity of the large architectural offices, which were directly controlled by the state, as was usual at the time of the communist regime. His contribution to Czech modernist design and architecture is more complicated when we realize that Hřivnáč behaved as an independent artist in some projects. However, in other projects he is presented as a collaborator with some of his more famous colleagues, such as Jan Šrámek, Karel Filsak, Jan Bočan, Karel Bubeníček, and many others. In any case, the work of this group of architects and designers, headed by architect Karel Filsak, who accumulated great personalities to create a powerful group of designers and artists, is seminal for Czech design and architecture during the 20th Century.