Under the brand name "Bohemian Glass Masters", Aldit continues the tradition of Czech glassmaking while responsibly preserving the cultural heritage of the industry. The Czech manufacturer of unique crystal lighting installations and artworks cooperates with the best designers. The designer Jaroslav Bejvl has contributed to the Diversity collection of unique luminaires and the company has also put the design of its products in the hands of architect, designer and professor Jiří Pelc. Among those who decide not only on the design but also on the running of the company is designer Alena Heřmanová. After studying glass and jewellery design at the Technical University in Liberec, she joined the well-established Aldit company, where she has been working for ten years. In an interview, the designer reveals how the design of Aldit's lighting pieces is created.
Who brought you to design and glass? Why did you decide to join Aldit after your studies?
Even as a child, I saw my grandmother making jewellery and assembling chandelier trimmings, all of which I tried out with interest at the time. I think the region I grew up in gave me enough opportunities to fall in love with glass. In my childhood, my hobby was drawing, and later I persuaded my parents to transfer from the grammar school to the SUPŠ in Jablonec nad Nisou, followed by studies at TUL. There I studied glass and jewellery design, but it wasn't until Aldit that I found a specialisation in lighting fixtures.
What was the first project you managed to realize at Aldit?
At the beginning of my time at Aldit, my "daily bread" was the patterning of classic crystal and cast glass lamps, especially the extension of individual models with its modifications (e.g. a chandelier with a different number of arms, a wall lamp), then also new models. The first major project was a 10-meter-long luminaire composed of stylized fish - drops in shades of sea colors forming a school (Aquamarine, Turquoise). It was a luminaire placed on the outdoor terrace of the hotel restaurant adjacent to the sea, inside each glass droplet was integrated an LED chip with dynamic lighting. I had the opportunity to visit this place before the realization. Interestingly, the entire hotel was destroyed by a hurricane and we implemented the identical luminaire a second time.
What products or collections were you involved in and how?
On custom projects (95% of the company's turnover) we start with a proposal from an architect/interior designer, my contribution is to develop the luminaire with the Aldit team in such a way that it maintains its aesthetic value while remaining fully functional - luminosity, light dispersion, appropriate type of metal and glass, etc. and that it is as easy as possible to manufacture and install on site. From the new modern collection, I have patterned Orb, Dorico and four other products that have not yet made it into the catalogue.
What company milestones have you stood by?
From my point of view, the most significant milestone was the discontinuation of the production of classic residential luminaires and the specialization in project luminaires. My husband and I were at the beginning and built everything together.
How would you describe the creative process of designing a lighting collection?
I usually try to use a simple shape (sphere, cylinder,...) and spice it up, e.g. the Orb collection is a sphere with a cut ring, the precisely cut surfaces and their geometry create an almost mystical mood.
What all influences or limits you when designing?
You definitely need to be familiar with the production technology and the different types of glass. Fundamentally the shape is influenced by the metal motor, sometimes I try to make it minimalistic, sometimes the design benefits from highlighting it. The size of the light source is also crucial, as it is usually integrated in the glass part. Today, fortunately, small light sources (LED chips) are also widespread.
On what basis do you approach designers for cooperation and how did the cooperation with Jiří Pelcl proceed?
Based on their experience, so that the result fits our concept. Mutual sympathy is also important. It's an experience for me to work with a personality like Professor Pelcl. The final designs were first preceded by a visit to our factory. Although we wanted to pattern the luminaires, Mr Pelcl was attracted by a small piece (sample) of cast glass and the first joint product was a cast bowl from the Lake collection. We are now patterning 3 collections of lamps. Generally the designer usually presents the designs, selected elaborations, shares the 3D model with us and we then take care of the prototyping.
What is your favourite product/collection?
Whisper luminaire by Jaroslav Bejvel
What projects are you working on now and what are you planning for the future?
We are currently producing custom lighting fixtures for several private residences, the larger installations include a 1.5m long fixture lined with plates of real alabaster, a 6m long fixture made of glass drops and on one private yacht we are filling an 8m2 space with glass flowers. In the future, in addition to continuing our bespoke projects, we plan to expand the collection with new models.