The first lady of Czech architecture celebrates this year her eightieth birthday with a large retrospective exhibition at the Prague DOX centre. We are very happy to be involved in this exhibition linked as we are to Eva Jiřičná by over twenty years of friendship.
She was born in Zlín in 1939. In the summer of 1968 she travelled to London for an internship, but the Czech authorities prevented her from returning. She joined the firm Louis de Soisson, where she worked on designing the Brighton Marina, before later working with Richard Rogers. She lives and works in London, where she has been for the past fifty years.
Our paths first crossed in 1997 when we worked on the interior of the Dancing House. In the years that followed we have worked together on a range of projects, both large and small.
As a supplier of interiors for large projects we have worked side-by-side with many leading Czech and international architects. However, we would venture to say that Eva Jiřičná stands out from among them in many regards.
The work of Eva Jiřičná and her firms is always characterised by its elegance, lightness and respect for material. Clients include major corporations and public institutions, for example Amec plc, Selfridges, Boodle & Dunthorne, Prague Castle, the Royal Academy of Arts, Victoria & Albert Museum, and Hotel Josef in Prague.
Eva Jiřičná and her team have collected a large number of international and Czech architectural awards. Their work is regularly published in magazines and books.
Eva Jiřičná has also earned commendation for her personal contribution to the field of architecture and design. She holds the title Royal Designer for Industry, is a Commander of the British Empire for her contribution to interior design, she has been elected a Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts and inducted into the American Hall of Fame. She has received honorary doctorates and professorships at several universities (e.g. Southampton Institute, VUT Brno, University of Sheffield, VŠUP Prague).
In 2003 she was elected President of the Architectural Association, London. She appears on international juries and frequently lectures on her work.
In September 2018, Eva Jiřičná received a Lifetime Achievement Medal at the London Design Festival. This is awarded by a jury to an individual who has made significant and fundamental contributions to the design industry over their career. On this occasion she told the organisers that she was not specifically proud of any one thing in her career: “I am just immensely grateful to everybody who has worked with me, who has entrusted me with a job. Everything in architecture involves teamwork and I have worked with so many magnificent people” she added.
Staircase as a special birthday present
TECHO is one of the many to congratulate the first lady of Czech architecture on her eightieth birthday. The birthday wishes came with a special present. As a sign of respect and also thanks for the many years of working on projects together we, together with a team from Artefakt, reconstructed a glass and stainless steel staircase that was originally placed in the Paris store of the Joan & David chain.
The subtle staircase from steel and glass was designed by Eva Jiřičná and her team for the now defunct Paris Joan & David boutique. The store was located in one of the most prestigious shopping districts in Paris on the rue du Faubourg St Honoré. The radiant object located right behind the shop window linked both floors of the boutique and enticed passers-by to enter.
The supporting structure of the entire staircase comprises a central metal mesh fixed to the ceiling using just two anchoring points. The steps are from the inner side attached to a thin central structure and from the outer side to a subtle truss entwined around the whole structure.
Whist the user admires the elegance of this architectural feature, for the constructor and producer its erection is the greatest possible challenge. "Few of even the most experienced producers could correctly estimate how demanding the whole installation would be. It is a very complex production process. We have an advantage in that we have worked with Eva on a range of similar staircases and features during which we determined the limits of materials and the specifics of working with these materials." says Pavel Růžička owner of the Artefakt and leader of the renovation project.
"The main characteristic of Eva Jiřičná’s design is extreme minimalism. All construction elements are designed to the tolerance limits – there is nothing extra," says Pavel Růžička, when talking about working with Eva Jiřičná. "In practice it’s the case that when the whole design is finished there is nothing left to be simplified. Nothing can be taken out. Not even a single component can be removed without compromising the entire structure."
Convincing customers that such a pared down structure will be sufficiently safe is never an easy task. This was also evident in the case of the Joan & David store, where the proposed structural arrangement was questioned by health and safety officials. In order for Eva Jiřičná to satisfy the strict conditions it was, in the end, necessary to add bent metal supports under the glass steps.
Would you like to see for yourself the refined details of the newly reconstructed staircase and other works by this renowned Czech architect? You have a unique opportunity from 22. 3. 2019 onwards at the DOX Centre. You are cordially invited.
Exhibition at the DOX Centre
To mark Eva Jiřičná’s eightieth birthday the DOX Centre is holding a retrospective exhibition of the work of this world-renowned architect from the start of her career to the present day.
The multimedia exhibition has been designed to present the process of development and delivery of Eva Jiřičná’s individual projects, and the inspiration behind them. The exhibition will include original project documentation, architectural models, examples of interior design and film projections connected with the life and work of Eva Jiřičná.