coming in a close second in the race for "most anticipated shop in dumbo" was prague kolektiv, who are, allegedly, the only enterprise in north america specializing in original czech furniture, lighting, and decorative objects. that's hard to resist, right?
according to their website, the showroom is a collaboration between barton quillen, a new york native, and italian architect, giovanni negrisin, both of whom lived and worked for over 10 years in the czech republic. during this period they were introduced to the remarkable achievements of czech modernism and are now active collectors.
just a quick jaunt from baxter & liebchen, the keen eyes grabbed hot beverages from the coffee stand next door and entered prague kolektiv, ready to be amazed.
perhaps we'd built up too much excitement - admittedly, the website is a veritable treasure-trove of eye candy, and the idea of a store full of obscure czech furniture and lighting at our fingertips was a bit of a romantic notion for an overcast sunday afternoon. we were slightly disappointed, however, by the chilly, disinterested shop attendant who seemed to be more concerned with her imac than our inquiries, not to mention the absurdly out-of-reach price tags on nearly every item in the shop. granted, we're talking different eras and different designs, but the accessibility and warmth of b&l just down the street made the keen eyes feel that this place lacked more than a little humanism.
despite all that, if you approach the prague kolektive as if it were a museum or gallery, full of
beautiful, unique, irreplaceable objects, more appropriate for browsing than for buying, it becomes a fascinating visit. pieces like the barrel back chairs (left) and most of the other upholstered pieces throughout the store were in fabulous shape, the fabric cushions showing only traces of wear; the chrome legs with only the faintest patina of age. there were other intriguing, more modern creations - an avant-guarde constructionist shoe station caught our eye immediately, with it's angled drawer pulls and staggered boxes, fashioned, we guess, to store shoe "accessories" like laces, polish, and horns.
if you're interested in learning more about the aesthetics of czech design or just have a few hours to kill on a sunday in brooklyn, you should absolutely stop by the prague kolektiv...just be sure to bring a credit card [or two]. oh, and don't ask any questions.
143-b front street
brooklyn, ny 11201