The same themes, chairs, vases, furniture, always rotate at Designblok, so I make weapons, says designer Jiří Jež, who designs for Česká zbrojovka

We will not fail to notice the diversity of your projects. How did you find this?

JIŘÍ: I’m basically such a Bag Beetle. I graduated from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in 2004, when it was still partially in Zlín. And when we came back to reality, in addition to everything at home in Třinec, it was a bit of a shock. The weather for this work was very brutal, even more so for me, because I didn’t have much contact at school. So I started working on local graphic design, where I had those opportunities then.

GrandeGastro oil bottle and label design | Source: author’s archives

In the finale, graphic design and product design have a lot in common, for example in terms of gift items. Didn’t you then try to turn the coats of the logo into formal marks so that it would work differently on both stationery and socks?

JIŘÍ: You know, I’ve always been terribly frustrated doing design in a small town. I still had the tension to do my best. It was all the more pleasant when the client heard about it. But this has not always been the case. Like this silk scarf where the stylized logo is multiplied in texture. I suggested this for SMS financing, where the owner wanted to have these nice things. On the contrary, what I can’t stand is an advertising mug with a corporate inscription. Of course, it’s profitable in terms of marketing, but for me it’s suicide.

Financial advice SMS finance cooperated with & nbsp;  Jiří, among others, & nbsp;  in the field of gift items.  There, his visual empathy intersected with a seemingly indistinct logo that appeared in fine texture on the silk scarf.  |  Source: author's archivesFinancial advice SMS finance has cooperated with Jiří, among others, in the field of gift items. There, his visual empathy intersected with a seemingly indistinct logo that appeared in fine texture on a silk scarf. | Source: author’s archives

I like the graphics, I don’t feel like I’m moving around in boundaries like the person who studied the graphics. I perceive it from the point of view of the person who has learned to perceive form and its lines. I love giving businesses a face.

Currently, with the sustainability trend that enterprises have started to respond to, the canvas bag has become a new corporate cup. But back to knowledge. On the contrary, weren’t you a local celebrity because of the controversy of the design profession in a small town?

JIŘÍ: (laughs) Of course, my wife and kids and I went to see the Museum of Applied Arts in Dad’s Chair, but we didn’t have any yogurt for her. These are the two polarities. I focus more on anonymous design, closer to consumers than to museums.

The sheet metal laser 49 promises, in addition to the possibility of completing the design by the user, also a friendlier transport.  |  Photo: Petr Karsulin The sheet metal 49 laser plate promises not only the ability to complete the design by the user but also a more sympathetic transport. | Photo: Petr Karsulin

I have always appreciated the fact that, despite the existence of the underworld of famous designers, the consumer still has no idea who designed the pint from which he drinks daily. How do you perceive this “celebrity” in design?

JIŘÍ: Now, I may be frustrated, but I see a lot of these design celebrities exhibiting something basically mundane at Designblok, and we’re making something of it. Someone then explained to me that there was a difference between a pleasant product and an innovative industrial design. But if you don’t have that name, it doesn’t work very well in small series. To make money, you would have to start selling in Ikee. The world and the Czech Republic are flooded with things and designers might be more concerned with what is already in circulation. Prize-winning things are usually not innovative.

What is the place of innovation in the work of a designer in Česká zbrojovka, where you currently work?

JIŘÍ: Working for Česká zbrojovka for me started again with graphics that really nourished me, but above all I was very lucky with people in this case. When I asked if I could try designing a stock, they let me. In fact, the weapons came to me a little by chance, I did not fight for them. As a graduation thesis, I did night vision, so it was probably fatal. It came to me a bit on its own. In fact, I appreciate the difference, within Designblok, the same topics still revolve on the pedestal. Chairs, vases, furniture. So I make weapons.

The minimalist CZ 600 ERGO rifle is based on the shape of a human arm in ergonomics.  Under the leadership of Jiří, a team of designers and specialists from Česká zbrojovka took part in the stock.  |  Source: author's archivesThe minimalist CZ 600 ERGO rifle is based on the human arm with respect for ergonomics. A team of designers and specialists from Česká zbrojovka took part in the stock under the leadership of Jiří. | Source: author’s archives

This raises the question of the ethical aspects of creation, has otherness ever prevailed on an uncertain level when it was not entirely pleasant to you?

JIŘÍ: Never, I have always looked at it on the bright side, within this society. I see them as a means of protection and security, above all legality is essential. And I’m designing hunting weapons, and I’m thrilled about that. You can embroider a lot more on it than on a gun.

Embroidery is a beautiful word in the context of weapons.

JIŘÍ: When you show someone a rifle, the question is usually what did I do. The rifle does not change. There’s just room for the shapes in the tones, so it’s basically embroidery. Once I even came across a comparison with car mats. So oddly specific that it kind of flatters me. This pattern has a function there, and although they are seemingly anonymous, it is a design and they can look good as well.

The rifle is part of a unique five-part weapon series, which excels in a number of patented special elements and extremely durable surface treatment.  |  Source: author's archivesThe rifle is part of a unique five-part weapon series, which excels in a number of patented special elements and an extremely durable surface finish. | Source: author’s archives

Did you finally find your way to the weapons when they came to you by chance?

JIŘÍ: Like all boys, I played Vinnetou or Rambo, where the weapon was synonymous with virility, but there is probably nothing more.

Not fascinated by design?

JIŘÍ: In fact, there probably is something. If I admire anyone, it’s Marc Newsen who made the gun for Beretta. It’s good. An ordinary person does not know that there is something about him. Shooters do not solve it, they perceive ergonomics. But I’m glad that Česká zbrojovka started to hear about the design.

Educational exhibition of the ear and the middle ear for The Gift of Hearing.  Like the Hamster from the Nightgown series, children were able to get inside and understand how hearing works, thanks to the enlarged bones that George handcrafted from laminate in consultation with ENT specialists.  |  Source: author's archivesEducational ear and middle ear exhibit for The Gift of Hearing. As in the Hamster in a Nightgown series, children were able to get inside and understand how hearing works, thanks to the enlarged bones that Jiří handcrafted from laminate after consulting with ENT specialists. | Source: author’s archives

But can we brag about weapons?

JIŘÍ: As a user, probably yes, but weapons are generally perceived as weapons, not as a design. It is a product like any other. Then, of course, there are the collectors, thanks to whom it is possible to design limited editions. When Česká zbrojovka turned 85, I drew the graphic mark 85 on the gun. People buy these editions where engravings appear and where seemingly industrial design meets craftsmanship.

So in the end, would you mind designing a water gun?

JIŘÍ: Certainly! Or, conversely, go back to the purely product side and design exercises. Do not drill with lead, but with a drill. And I miss the chairs I had bad luck with too. I designed a few prototypes for Unikov and I still have drawings from school, but it would have to go back to that Ikee.

Prvosenka chair.  The collaboration with the UNIKOV company began for Jiří as one of the few product designs, although the graphics did not defend themselves there either.  |  Source: author's archivesPrvosenka chair. Cooperation with the UNIKOV company began for Jiří as one of the few product designs, although even there he did not stand for graphics. | Source: author’s archives

Isn’t that “ike” against your fur?

JIŘÍ: On the contrary, it attracted me. These are products for which the user expects the furniture to have a certain shelf life. The global economy is not about everyone else having quality, expensive cuisine. There are certain groups of people who do not live in a world where ecology is the leader, but economy. At the same time, the Nordic countries have a say in the design, and Ikea can also manufacture products with quality materials. He sucks up trends and makes them accessible. She’s been smart about it for a long time.

Jiří also participated in the construction of the resort in Ghana.  Traditional African lodges finally got the green light and & nbsp;  today Lemon Bech Resort is a very lively and successful place.  |  Source: author's archivesJiří also participated in the construction of the resort in Ghana. The traditional African houses eventually green with the locals and today Lemon Bech Resort is a very lively and successful place. | Source: author’s archives

But isn’t this a gap in which the users’ relationship with these products is lost forever?

JIŘÍ: Unfortunately, the price corresponds to the user. It can be limited by education and businesses depend on its economy. Unfortunately, breaking and buying a new one is an endless cycle, and the user doesn’t care. The only question for him remains the price. It is also about mastering the media, because even in politics, the strength of the campaign is always decisive, and the big companies certainly have it. Of course, there are also trending issues, but unfortunately no one has the ability to deal with them.

Where is the power and role of the designer in this?

JIŘÍ: This is probably an eternal question. At Designblok, I see the tendency to find new directions. But these are things that barely reach the average user. Due to the trend, ecology will remain on the pedestal, and originality must be appreciated with some financial value.

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