Interview with Roman Vrtiška and Vladimír Žák

Interview with Roman Vrtiška and Vladimír Žák

We have visited young Czech designers Roman Vrtiška and Vladimír Žák and asked them about their studies, beginning of their cooperation and work on BOCA’s new showroom of floor covering at Atrium Flora.

You are young guns at Czech architecture scene. How did you get to design? What about your studies at UMPRUM (Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague)?

Roman: Concerning design I was tabula rasa. Only my grandfather was calligrapher. However I was brought up feeling that art is a very important part of one's life. Later I was attending ceramic high school which showed me to focus on 3D art. I successfully passed the UMPRUM admission exams for second time. Before it I studied UJEP (Jan Evangelista Purkyně University) in Ústí nad Labem, department of ceramics. After some time, it became to be materially and technologically minor to me. After that I decided to change the school. At UMPRUM I started studying ceramic, then I changed to product design. I

Vladimír: I didn’t know, that I want to do design until my 20s. In fact, design was a lucky mistake of my life. I studied a grammar school, where I surprisingly found that I can draw. My friend told me about studies at UMPRUM and I just tried it, because of interest. I don’t even know how but I passed UMPRUM admission exams. Now I’am thankful that all that happened.

You work together as a designers duo, how did your cooperation started?

Vladimír: Our cooperation started during UMPRUM studies. We have finished the school in the same year. Then we got our first contract which started up our closer cooperation. It was designing Moods hotel interiors. After years of studying product design we got first contract concerning interior design. It was a real changing moment of our career, because we have not had much experience with interior design before. In some way clients showed a sense of risk when they asked us to make this project.

Now you are interior and product designers as well as graphic designers. What is your favorite discipline?

Roman: My favorite is definitely product design, after all it was subject of my studies. It is truly relaxing work where I can focus on smallest details and chasing ideal proportions.

Vladimír: I have always wanted to be product designer. To touch things and play with technologies. Actually we work at spaces in any form. We have many different projects, just like hockey arena, front house facade or exhibition stand. Our range is still wider and wider. At least, the work not boring. Anyway my dream is designing a bridge, not big one, a pedestrian or animal bridge would be enough. In fact, bridge is a big functional product which is putting us back to product design.

Can you describe us how does your work look like?

Vladimír: The way from first idea to final design is very long. Usually final design does not come from the first idea. We work hard at every project and come up with plenty of ideas. Once we find good idea we develop it step by step, no matter who´s the idea was, to make final solution.

Roman: First idea definitely comes from one person. It does not work to combine different ideas. Then comes hours, days even weeks of brainstorming bringing us to perfect design. That´s why working together is so important to us. Luckily we have similar taste, disagreements are not often, but sometimes it come for sure. Regarding to time that we spend together I would say it is a successful marriage.

How would you describe your interior style?

Roman and Vladimír: Every project and every client is different. It need different style. We tend to be radical, but not focused on specific interior style or color schemes. Client is the one who has preferences. We try to be as much creative, professional and flexible as we can. Moreover, we need to enjoy our work.

You have designed two showrooms and exhibition stand to FOR ARCH expo for BOCA company. Do you remember beginning of your cooperation?

Roman and Vladimír: Our cooperation with BOCA started at KKCG project, where we designed woven vinyl, which we found at BOCA. The cooperation went well, we were completely satisfied with professional approach and their work. Since then we cooperate. Not long afterward BOCA asked us to design their first showroom.

Can you tell us, what are the main benefits of commercial interior designed by professional designers?

Roman: PR and marketing for sure. Well designed commercial space, for example showroom, attract people who are visiting it. They can easily identify the company and recognize it. It is important to make people think that your space is exceptional and your company would be a good partner for them.

Did you designed BOCA´s showroom by yourself, or did you have any restrictions or requirements?

Roman and Vladimír: There was one main requirement, that at showroom must appear theme of floor covering refering to subject of BOCA´s business. It was also necessary to store large number of floor samples and at the same time keep the space opened. We had absolutely blank cheque concerning showroom design.

What was the main design idea of the showroom?

Roman and Vladimír: We proceeded from the fact that the showroom is a functional space which must show customers the goods. That's why we came up with the suggestion that the space will be completely white. White space concept was based on the idea, that the impression of the exhibited samples will not be disturbed. The owners liked that simple idea very much. We have placed the theme of floor coverings into the space in form of carpet mosaic on the wall which is the artistic idea of the showroom. It dominates the showroom and dramatically cut the white space. The mosaic is composed of differently colored carpets with all kinds of surfaces. Client can easily see what kinds of carpets exist and touch it. The mosaic was so distinct idea that has also become part of the BOCA´s identity, which makes us very happy.

We have designed the cabinets intentionally low, to keep the space opened and transparent as much as possible. Cabinets allow all samples to be stored inside a led the space breathe.

Was that idea your first or did you worked with another concept?

Roman and Vladimír: We have always many other ideas. Anyway the idea of white space and dominant mosaic was so exceptional that we had believed it from the beginning.

What was intention while designing the mosaic wall?

Roman and Vladimír: We had the idea of dominant wall in mind from the first time since we saw the space of BOCA´s showroom. Discussion led us to make the mosaic of carpets in different surfaces and irregular shapes. Even if it isn´t evident from the first sight, the mosaic is designed in every detail, including the color scheme.

BOCA´s new showroom in Atrium Flora has a floor area about 500 m2, what was your solution of space layout?

Roman and Vladimír: We had many different space layouts worked on the presumption of the space. But we had to adjust strict technical limits. We considered the longitudinal or transverse cut of the space. The final layout was the result of long discussions between the two of us, owners and techniques. Finally, we divided space longitudinal into public and employee’s area.

Design of the new BOCA´s showroom, is evolution of the proven concept of formal showroom. Why? And what are the main differences between them?

Roman and Vladimír: It was quite clear that we will develop the idea of former showroom. The concept was successful and functional, it worked well with BOCA´s identity. Moreover, it would be confusing for clients to completely change the concept. That´s why we made some evolution of proven concept. We wanted to move it one step forward. The mosaic developed into dynamic curve shape. Another major difference is that now we have designed whole space including the background for employees. We had to find the connecting line between public area of showroom and employees part.

In the whole area of the new showroom you chose Microtopping design cement flooring in pure white? Why this floor?

Roman: White floor refers to the original concept of clear white space where the sample of floor pops out and impression of the exhibited samples is not disturbed. Actually it is the form of gallery display. Furthermore, it is BOCA´s product and they can implement it on their own, so it was a logical choice.

Into the employee’s background you designed wooden floor in different shades, width and length of the planks. Wooden planks extend to the walls. Why?

Vladimír: Wooden floors are part of BOCA´s assortment as well, so it was important to show it in company´s areas. Wooden floor is easy to maintain, it is durable match very well with the smooth cement flooring in showroom area. Additionally, we hope that employees will feel more comfortable and cozy.

Roman: Different shades of wood, width and length of planks and application of wooden floor to the walls, we wanted to demonstrate the possibilities of BOCA´s realization. In essence, the new floors and mosaic wall are one big presentation of BOCA´s products and realizations. We tried to use their products as much as possible and designed difficult applications to show what is BOCA able to offer for their clients.

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