PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – As 2018 begins, we all have so much to look forward to and celebrate. This year is particularly special for ARTĚL – the globally renowned producer of luxury crystal couture – as it marks the firm’s 20th year in business.
As the story goes, when ARTĚL founder / director Karen Feldman first arrived in Prague on assignment for a cosmetics firm in 1994, she had no intention of starting her own business. However, as a longtime lover of all things vintage, she frequented the city’s antiques bazaars and thrift shops, and gradually became obsessed with vintage Bohemian crystal.
“It was basically love at first sight,” says Feldman of her initial encounters with traditional Czech glassware. “I was so impressed by the artisanal mastery evident in these 19th-century pieces, but I thought they’d be even more interesting if they reflected a more modern, 20th-century aesthetic… and that’s basically how the vision for ARTĚL came about.”
In 1998, Feldman launched ARTĚL from her Prague apartment with $2,500 of her own savings, zero experience in the glass industry, and (due to the socioeconomic conditions of a newly post-Communist Prague) neither a telephone nor a fax machine. Within just a few months, prototypes of her earliest designs were shown at the New York International Gift Fair. Clients took interest, orders were placed – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Twenty years later, ARTĚL is an established presence in today’s design scene. ARTĚL designs are sold in exclusive stores and boutiques around the globe, have won numerous awards, and have been featured in several prestigious museums. ARTĚL has also produced private-label designs for top luxury brands and collaborations with artists and designers such as Sol Lewitt and David Wiseman.
“It’s been a wild ride so far,” quips Feldman, “and in some ways I feel like we’re just getting started. I’m super grateful for my longtime designer / collaborator Vera Mauriova, the rest of our amazingly talented team, and – of course – our clients, customers, and fans who’ve made this journey possible. I’m really looking forward to the next twenty years and beyond!”
Established in 1998 by American designer and entrepreneur Karen Feldman, ARTĚL specializes in handcrafted, functional crystal glassware of high design. The company takes its name from an early-20th-century collective of Czech artisans whose dedication to preserving the traditional methods of handcraftsmanship led them to reject industrial production techniques. ARTĚL carries on the spirit of these artisans and their commitment to producing – entirely by hand – lasting objects of impeccable quality, design, and functionality. Artěl’s innovative product line can be found on the shelves of Asprey, Bergdorf Goodman, Christian Dior and Neiman Marcus, among other exclusive retailers.
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