Jan Čtvrtník is a graduate of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (AAAD) in Prague as well as of the Faculty of Education (South Bohemian University). During his studies at AADA he received scholarships in Peru and Finland. In 2002 Jan founded, along with other designers, FILE studio and a year later he was a founding member of Tactoo. In 2004 Jan received Ingvar Kamprad’s scholarship at the Technological Institute of the University of Lund in Sweden. One year later he worked in Sweden at the IKEA design center. The same year he participated in NASA’s „Star design“ project. Currently Jan works as a designer in the company ELECTROLUX in Italy. Jan Čtvrtník has multiple awards from the past: 2001- Good Design award, 2002, 2003 a 2006 – Excellent Design award and in 2005 Jan received the National Student Design award within the National Design award. For his work Jan was awarded the title „Designer of the Year 2008“ by Czech Grand Design 2008, the same year he took first place at the Dutch studio Droog’s design Climate Competition. Jan Čtvrtník designs furniture, interior accessories, appliances and jewelery.
Portrait of Jan Čtvrtník by photographer Jan Branč
Your work took the winning spot in the Young Package competition. Why did you enter the contest and what are your memories regarding the very first year it was awarded?
At high-school I studied graphic design, but my dream was to work on industrial designs. Young Package award was exactly on the border of both and eventually it directed me towards industrial design and allowed me to make a decision that changed my life.
I decided to participate in the contest at the very last moment possible. I had to prepare everything in a really short period of time and then I completely forgot that I participated. So when I received the notice I have won it was a little surprise for me.
Which was THE successful design? Was the experience working with cardboard useful and helpful for you?
I made a calendar out of corrugated cardboard. Well, basically I just used a fixation grid from a detergent box and figured out the way it should work. At the end I was surprised how easy the principle is. I guess it hit the spot, because the jury enjoyed it as well. At the award ceremony I met Honza Činčera and thanks to him, paper and cardboard ruled my life for a few years to come. I learned all the attributes of various papers, technologies how paper is made and of course techniques how to work with it. Thanks to Honza Činčera I explored a whole new world, how to work with paper in a creative way, how to find its limits and use it as a starting point for my works.
Moara, Polstrin design
Did the Young Package award help you somehow in your future career development?
I think the best thing that happened to me was meeting Honza Činčera. He taught me how to think about various concepts. The win itself was great - it gave me self-confidence and motivated me to explore 3D design more. But it was Honza Činčera who taught me the design alphabet so to say.
Do you think that awards and contests for students and young designers are worth it?
Absolutely. Each contest simulates a real world contract work. You have the brief, deadline and usually even a budget. The participants – designers have to be smart, they have to create, build and test their product and then „sell“ it to the jury by giving a presentation. It really doesn't matter too much if it is going towards a realistic finish or a surreal vision. It also doesn't matter whether the student wins or not, because experience has the tendency to chain-react, so each experience opens another as well as new options.
Do you still design packages sometimes?
Tons of designs is basically packaging design. We are buying the „essence“ of the product which is basically wrapped in something. Looking at things from this point of view – well, I do packaging design every day.