Magazine article Out

Modern Bohemian

Magazine article Out

Modern Bohemian

Article excerpt

HIGH DESIGN IN HISTORIC PRAGUE

With its looming castle and cobbled old town (Staré Mesto) a gaslamp-lit mecca of atmosphere and architecture, Prague has a penchant for conjuring fairy tales. But the Czech Republic wouldn't have featured street art and graffiti at the Shanghai Expo if its crown jewel was stuck in the past. Today's artists and designers twist traditional craft with au courant attitude. JUSTIN OCEAN

Contemporary art centers have sprung up amid apartment blocks and graffiti-laced industrial sites. Housed in a former metal factory a 15-minute tram ride from Stare Mesto, Dox (1) (Poupetova 1, Praha 7; DoxPrague.org) juxtaposes modern heavyweights (Gilberts George. Martin Parr, Zaha Hadid) against Czech eccentricity, like the massive red skull rotating on the roof. Local design studio Qubus curates its MoMA-worthy museum shop. Across town, MeetFactory (2) (Ke Sklárné 3213/15, Praha 5; MeetFactory.cz) leans toward more experimental visual arts with theater, film, and gallery shows by foreign artists-in-residence.

Communist-era nostalgia might seem a bit misplaced, but in the hands of young graphic design duo Jakub Korous and Jan Kloss, it sure is trendy. At their bold Botas 66 Gallery (6) (Konviktská 1005/30. Praha 1; 66Gallery.cz) vintage Soviet sneakers- thin-soled lace-ups, akin to Golas- get award-winning, limited-edition mod makeovers with vivid blasts of color, printed leather, and street-ready aliases like Sad Clown and Bee Soldier. A new attached concept store offers an array of Technicolor-coded objects to coordinate with the shoes, from Victorinox pocket knives to Ice-Wateh watches, and a rainbow of napa leather gloves, laces. …

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