In Circulation: Dechem Studio

Reflections of Contemporary Designers on the Collection of the Museum of Applied Arts

By Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

The In Circulation exhibition series was launched by the Contemporary Design Department of the Museum of Applied Arts.



In the framework of our series entitled In Circulation, we have invited contemporary designers, once they have become acquainted with the museum’s internationally unparalleled rich collection, to select an object or ensemble of objects that inspires their own work, and to create something of their own design that reflects upon it.
The design object(s) born from the inspiration of the museum’s collection will also become a part of the collection, which will also provide the opportunity for further relations and exhibitions.

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary portrait of Michaela Tomišková and Jakub Janďourek, Kristina Hrabětová, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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Our fourth invited artist in the series is Dechem Studio from Prague, one of the most recognised representatives of Czech contemporary glass art.  The studio’s designers, Michaela Tomišková and Jakub Janďourek, partners in both work and life, founded their design studio in Prague in 2012, after they acquired a wide range of experience in the fields of design and fabrication.

Book with slipcase - Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary.Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Book with slipcase - Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary. Paris

Dechem Studio selected a book with a unique binding from the book art collection of the museum, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.  

Book with slipcase - Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary.Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Károly Grill’s book publishing house in Budapest produced a unique binding with marbled paper endpapers for the volume originally published in Paris in 1930.  

Mirror - Hommage á Madame BovaryMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary (detail)

They employed lithyalin glass, a type of glass whose markings are quite similar to the patterns of marbled paper, to produce their new object, which is none other than a mirror of unique design.

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary

The Dechem Studio designers reflect upon the appearance of the book, as well as its content, with their work. 

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary installation view of the exhibitionMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary portrait of Friedrich EgermannMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Lithyalin glass was developed 200 years ago by Friedrich Egermann in a northern Czech small town, Nový Bor. Precisely there, where the current work in the In Circulation series was also produced.  

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary marbled paperMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Marbled paper and lithyalin glass are very similar in outward appearance. The pattern that was formerly referred to as “foamy” (or the French: moire) is today described as ribbonlike undulation.  

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary lithyalin glassMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Lithyalin, reminiscent of semi-precious stones, is a so-called opaque glass of a marbled pattern. The word itself derives from the combination of the Greek words lithos (stone) and hyalos (glass).  

Book with slipcase - Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary.Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

Book with slipcase - Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary.

In the course of their selection, they did not neglect the content of the book either, as glass and the mirror appear again and again in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. The plot of the novel takes place in exactly those years when in Bohemia, Egermann was crafting lithyalin glass. The regard, vision, the depth of the eye, and the examination of the world and existence through glass also meant a kind of technique for Flaubert in realising his artwork.   

Glass nugget - Solidified glass melt (late 19th century (presumably)) by unknownMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest

In a letter written to someone dear to him, Louise Colet, on 15 May 1851, he wrote the following:  

'Do you know how I spent the whole afternoon the day before yesterday? Looking at the countryside through coloured panes of glass. I needed to for a page of my Bovary.”'Melchior-Bonnet 2002, 182.

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary installation view of the exhibition, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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The mirror created by Dechem is complex, like Flaubert’s novel. Whoever looks in it can easily find themselves in another world. There are parts that reflect, but there is also that which remains silent, and this is perhaps the most enchanting. At the same time, the designers have also employed three different types of mirrors in creating the artwork.

Mirror - Hommage á Madame Bovary detail, From the collection of: Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest
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'We are living in a world that is quite accelerated. Everything is changing before our eyes. People live under stress, and they often create a fantasy world inside their minds, and don’t exist in the present. We would like for the viewer to become a part of our object and to consider who s/he really is. So we ask you to just look in the mirror, to take time to think about oneself, and about what one can see.' Dechem Studio  

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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