Proč ne?! 05/2015


It is a gallery and a shop, a space for art and design. Gabriela Pecičová’s Pra­guekabinet is a place where something will always surprise you.

While the neighbouring La Finestra restaurant is filled during the day with top businesspeople, praguekabinet attracts a mix of even more interesting people. When Gabriela Pecičová, found this small space in Platnéřská ulice three years ago, she wanted to relocate her project from Žižkov to here so that it would be more visible and available to more than just the usual clientele, who came to her to consult home furnishings or to buy art. Thus the multipurpose space has been open in the centre of Prague for two years and is currently exhibiting the work of the renowned French artist and designer Arik Levy.

Praguekabinet is a place of many faces. It usually operates simultaneously as a showroom and a gallery. Now, however, you are giving over the entire space to a single artist. Is it symbolic for you that Arik Levy is globally renowned and at the same time has a relationship to the Czech Republic and is both an artist and a designer?

I think that is exactly what I would like praguekabinet to be: global and Czech at the same time, full of art but also more practical, useful art and objects. I hadn’t had time to organise a regular exhibit here, but right now I believe that an exhibit of Arik Levy is a good opportunity to show that a world-famous artist can be seen in such a delicate space in Prague.

What can we see in the exhibit?

Arik is exhibiting here a cross-section of his entire body of artwork, which isn’t well known in such breadth. You can see here the MicroRock-Formation series of bronze and wood objects, wall-mounted assemblages and objects of silvered glass made in the Czech Republic. Another interesting aspect is how he dealt with the installation itself. Some of his works are huge pieces and at praguekabinet we work in a much smaller space. Arik says ironically that in order to make big art, he has to live off something, so he does design. And I must say that, for an artist, he is very professional and systematic.

You have been collaborating with Arik Levy for a long time; you know each other personally…

Arik likes the Czech Republic and historic Prague, he has worked for several Czech manufacturers and firms, he has lectured at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, and he even makes most of his bronze and wood pieces here. We have known each other for a longer time, as I bought his works for some of my clients, which was when we became friends. I believe that to be able to enthusiastically offer art, you also have to share that enthusiasm with the artists themselves. To just sell what is trendy at the moment would not interest me.

You frequently bring together people from the business environment with artists. From your perspective, in what ways are these two worlds different and where do they intersect?

Though they are two different worlds, they are both inspiring. People who dedicate themselves to art have a vision of the world and a different set of priorities, so they create art and cannot have their creativity programmed. But sometimes it’s difficult. Many times it happens to you that you arrange a visit to a studio and the artist doesn’t pick up the phone for two days. Businesspeople sometimes say, “Why should I buy art? I’d rather travel or buy a beautiful car.” And I understand that. To buy an exceptional car is also a form of passion. Unlike art, cars give more of an outward appearance.

How do you assist your customers?

If they love art, we can seek out interesting investments, discover new artists. If they are not into art that much, as we are not a typical gallery with paintings, we can always create a tailor-made still life within their interiors design, right at their flat. It’s not necessary to have the idea that you must have a new, empty house in order to come to us. People buy here only one saucer, for example; they put it on the wall and then send a photo. That always pleases me.

But sometimes it is difficult to bring an item from a shop or gallery into one’s home, isn’t it?

That’s true. I am very active, so whenever possible I “melt” into the space and I try to arrange everything so that it creates a beautiful interior. I offer people the option of borrowing things on a trial basis or to work together to determine in advance what an interior needs.

That is a completely common service of many design studios. In your opinion, what distinguishes praguekabinet from other galleries and shops in Prague?

There are a lot of high-quality small and large galleries in Prague and I think it’s great that people can surround themselves with art in far more places. But galleries mostly offer wall art – and I don’t want to say that a chest of drawers is furniture or design and isn’t art. Because it is art that can be used. Therefore, praguekabinet is atypical in that in one place it offers a combination of artworks and useful art. And we also try to have an eclectic mix: something unique and something more common for people for whom it doesn’t matter if they buy glass from Nový Bor or from Venice, but they simply buy a vase that they like and that pleases them. And here a person can choose a vase and a picture to go with it, which mostly never happens. But I can advise them on art as an investment, which is shown, for example, in the prices of glass by František Vízner, which is constantly increasing in value.

Both Czechs and foreigners come to praguekabinet. Are you pleased by that?

It’s great. I’m excited that people come here just to look, for example. And when tourists come in and say that such a space could be in New York or London, that makes me happy, too. I think that the selection and mix of the artists that I represent has come off well and I’m glad that it was natural. I recently sent two chests of drawers to Hong Kong, and I said to myself how great it is that someone in Asia had furniture shipped over from Europe. They could have got it there, but the man said: We found this at your place, we like what you do, so I want to buy this chest of drawers here.

What do you require from your own residence?

It has to be comfortable. There has to be a bookcase with a lot of books. And a big closet! It’s good that I have these nice things around me at work, so I don’t need so many at home. But sometimes you can’t resist. It’s the same as with fashion. It’s enough to have five pairs of shoes, but sometimes you see some new ones; you don’t need them, but you simply want them for the feeling they give you. Historically, people have always liked to surround themselves with beautiful things, even if those things are not important for living. So I’m now trying to surround my customers with beautiful things.

What is typical for you when you are arranging a residence for someone? I like a combination of old and new. I choose a colourful rug, even if the floor is marble, and I put a marble table on it. It’s hard to explain, because you simply have to try it and see it for yourself. I like to start with a simple base and then play around with it. In designing interiors, I often collaborate with Ivanka Kowalski, who takes a minimalist approach to her work. And then I get into the space and I can be bold.

How do you choose the brands that you represent at praguekabinet?
Dry catalogue interiors bother me. I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot in my life. I worked for the magazine Dolce Vita and with my partner I also previously decorated homes and collected art. Thanks to that, I gradually discovered individual brands and artists – whether in Helsinki, where I visited the Eero Aarnio house, or in Milan in Fornasetti’s gar­den, or in Paris. I had a feeling that I was discovering beautiful things that weren’t in Prague. And so I created my own bold mix at praguekabinet – and if someone doesn’t want a painting by Písařik, then they buy a Fornasetti tray and even that will liven up minimalism or a catalogue interior. People mostly have a house built, a nice foundation, but furnishing it is something else. It’s not that they wouldn’t have taste. But they don’t know that there is an alternative, or they aren’t bold enough to put a turquoise vase there instead of a white one. And I have the courage to take the turquoise vase because I know that that it will push the house into a completely different dimension.

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