Building bloc

A Czech designer talks about his move away from jewellery to architecture as Prague remodels to rival the most glamorous cities in Europe

Now, she has all but given up jewellery, in favour of high-profile commercial environments. Mimolimit has 15 restaurants and three hotels to its name. And it has all changed, unsurprisingly, as the country’s fortunes have shifted. ‘Over the past 15 years, since the revolution, the situation has changed drastically, just as society has,’ she says. ‘In addition to the clothes they wear and the cars they drive, people care about the space in which they move about. A lot of new buildings are being built, and a lot of new interiors to go with it.’

Many of these new buildings are ‘comparable to those of Western Europe’, says Skorpilova. She cites two of Mimolimit’s most successful restaurants in design terms: Café Emporio Flora, inspired by Rome’s 19th-century café Grecco, near the Spanish Steps, and Hergetova Cihelna, located in a vaulted space, and featuring clever lighting, wood and metal.

And as for hotels, Mimolimit is particularly pleased with its work for Holiday Inn in Prague, although ‘not from the design perspective, but from the client communication approach’, says Skorpilova. The client presented her with a weighty tome of a design manual – nothing new for UK designers, but a shock for the Czechs. ‘Although I read the entire document, I had the impression there was not much space in which the architect could work,’ she says, a situation that may be familiar to other designers. But after talking with the client, more freedom was won, and the final solution involved the relocation of both the main entrance and the reception.

Skorpilova puts some of Mimolimit’s success down to the fledgling state of the commercial Czech design scene. ‘The difference is that here, as a small studio, we get bigger orders than perhaps I would get in Britain,’ she says.

Mimolimit’s designers are creating an appropriate look for the modern-day Czech Republic, as demonstrated by the success of the Holiday Inn. But this look has evolved. In the early days, says Skorpilova, she ‘designed interiors in the spirit of minimalism’. But that changed with the first restaurant commission. ‘In the Czech Republic, it is too early for “minimalist” restaurants and, while I like simplicity, I’m not sure I’d feel good sitting in a cool white space,’ she adds.

These restaurants are all well and good, but as an architecture graduate, it’s hardly surprising Skorpilova is keen to keep moving the business forward. And she is. At last, Mimolimit is making the step from interior design to architecture, with its first building going on site next March. It’s a residential apartment block in Prague, and a far cry from jewellery.

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