INTERVIEW WITH LEON JAKIMIČ – PROSTOR

LOVE+LIGHT

During the Belgrade Design Week we had the opportunity to talk to Leon Jakimič, owner, founder and general manager of the Bohemian company „Lasvit“.

The name Lasvit is a combination of two Bohemian words: LASKA – which means LOVE, and SVIT – which means LIGHT. This is the way Lasvit’s designers operate: with great love for design, glass and light. Leon Jakimič talked about his work and devotion to the company.

He was born in Liberec, Czech Republic, in 1975. With great ambition and respect for visual arts Leon Jakimič founded Lasvit in 2007 by purchasing the home lighting manufacturer BOS. He then transformed this local Bohemian company into an award winning global firm which specializes in design and manufacture of glass products and decorative light sculptures. Today, Lasvit employs roughly 500 professionals in ten offices around the world. Lasvit has branches on three continents: in Europe, Asia and North America. Leon Jakimič’s creative team decorated halls of some of the most prestigious hotels in Beijing, Macao and Tokyo, and many other luxurious public spaces. Two key features of Lasvit products are quality and unique, timeless design. What is also very important is the faith in that design.

Why glass? Where does this love of glass come from?

If you happen to grow up in the Czech Republic, it’s only natural to fall in love with glass, because it’s everywhere around you. We have high schools which specialize in the study and manufacture of glass, it is a signature craft our forefathers left us. Glass is an integral part of everyone’s life. It inspired me. My country’s traditionalism prompted me to start developing ideas about it.

What does freedom in design mean to you?

Our freedom is related to the „Bohemian spirit“. It’s a spirit associated exclusively with glass and the inspiration people found in it in the past – considering it magic. We don’t want to do what others think is good. We look at the world from a different perspective, our perspective. We don’t limit ourselves creatively
– art simply mustn’t be constrained. Freedom is very important to us, and especially to our designers. We usually say to our clients: “Please give us creative freedom, you won’t regret it“. The key issues are the love of glass, good design and freedom.

Have you had the opportunity to collaborate with less known young designers and apply their ideas?
Of course, our company itself is relatively young. The average age of our 3.000 employees is, believe it or not, 24; 45% of employees are women, they are in charge of marketing, business, sales, while the rest of the team engages in men’s activities, such as glass blowing, for instance. Our creative director Maxim Velcovsky is also young, he is 34, and he always recommends us to collaborate with young and creative people, graduates or not. What counts is a good idea, the drive and creativity those young designers have.

How do you define a good designer?

For me, a good designer is the one who is absolutely innovative, capable of inventing something original, and creating something original is the most difficult thing in design. Originality is the most important quality of a designer.

How do you select the designers to collaborate with?

We have designers who are hired on a project basis. In most cases, they give their suggestions for the design of interior installations. We also collaborate with well-known architects and designers who share their ideas and concepts with us. Some renowned designers create for Lasvit, such as Oki Sato, who recently started working with us.

What was the cost of the most expensive installation you produced?
It’s an installation for the Jumeirah hotel in Abu Dhabi, which cost over one and a half million dollars.

How far are you willing to go in making compromises when it comes to clients’ special requests?
We have to make compromises. After all, we work for money and because of money. But we never cross the line: we make compromises up until the moment we feel the design can remain good, even on a smaller budget.

Do you have a pet project?

I love projects with a certain amount of symbolism, such as the project for the hall of the Hyatt Capital Gate hotel in Abu Dhabi.

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During Belgrade Design Week 2009, you enabled participants to meet with representatives from different countries, in professional, as well a sin social settings, which provided the opportunity for spontaneous interactions, where everyone was engaged in true cross-cultural dialogues. This allowed participants from different countries to become familiar with attitudes, ideas, and practices on the common topics of design.   We had received first hand accounts of current situation in creative fields and intellectual status of Belgrade Design Week, exchanged ideas and knowledge, mixed and mingled among each other. And the unique opportunity was given for all of us to establish professional relationships and develop lifelong friendships. We were eager to discover Belgrade and had a unique chance to enjoy the city! No doubt, it was our first, but not our last visit to Belgrade. All the best to Belgrade Design Week for the future to come! We are looking forward to be a part of your success

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