As an American it's easy for me to find websites and stores loaded with vintage American objects, and you needn't look further than our auto industry to see designers wistfully looking backwards. But I'm keen to see this vintage hankering taking place in other countries as well, particularly ones that had completely different political systems.
So I was psyched to come across Nanovo, an online retailer selling Communist-era Czechoslovak design items. It's run by Jirka Mrázek and Adam Karásek, two twentysomething Praguers who scour thrift shops throughout their country looking for ID gold from the 1960s, '70s and '80s: Furniture, lighting, tableware, electronics and more. The website currently contains nearly 150 items all photographed and catalogued; some of the designs look as if the designers were definitely peering over the Iron Curtain while others look as if they've landed here from outer space.
The online Czech magazine Czech Position has a profile up on Mrázek and Karásek detailing what they do:Mrázek says that Communist-era Czechoslovak furniture, glass items, and accessories are distinguished by the quality of the materials used and their subsequent durability....
...A large percentage of Nanovo's customers are hip thirtysomethings with a keen interest in art and design. However, the appeal of the company's sometimes kitschy goods can be lost on members of the older generation. "My mother laughs at us a bit. When she sees some of the things that we sell, she says 'Who could possibly want such things?'" Karásek told Czech Position. "For her, this stuff is tasteless. She thinks it's funny that we or anybody else would want to buy it."
With all due respect to Mrs. Mrázek, we want to buy it!