Contemporary art centers have sprung up amid apartment blocks and graffiti-laced industrial sites. Housed in a former metal factory a 15-minute tram ride from Staré M ěsto, Dox (Poupětova 1, Praha 7; DoxPrague.org) juxtaposes modern heavyweights (Gilbert & George, Martin Parr, Zaha Hadid) against Czech eccentricity, like the massive red skull rotating on the roof. Local design studio Qubus curates its MoMA-worthy museum shop.
Across town, MeetFactory (Ke Sklárně 3213/15, Praha 5; MeetFactory.cz) leans toward more experimental visual arts with theater, film, and gallery shows by foreign artists-in-residence.
?Communist-era nostalgia might seem a bit misplaced, but in the hands of young graphic design duo Jakub Korouš and Jan Kloss, it sure is trendy. At their bold Botas 66 Gallery (6) (Konviktská 1005/30, Praha 1; 66Gallery.cz) vintage Soviet sneakers—thin-soled lace-ups, akin to Golas—get award-winning, limited-edition mod makeovers with vivid blasts of color, printed leather, and street-ready aliases like Sad Clown and Bee Soldier. A new attached concept store offers an array of Technicolor-coded objects to coordinate with the shoes, from Victorinox pocket knives to Ice-Watch watches, and a rainbow of napa leather gloves, laces, WeSC tees, and track jackets.
Everything classic, particularly vintage glassware is covetable at Kubista (Ovocný trh 19, Praha 1; Kubista.cz), the Museum of Czech Cubism's tiny but well-curated shop in the House of the Black Madonna, which itself is a masterstroke of abstract cubist architecture.
?At Futurista Universum (Betlémské nám. 5A, Praha 1; Futurista.cz) student commissions and inventive tweaks to tradition elevate centuries-old Czech applied arts like glass and ceramics. Everything is cutting-edge yet affordable, but mine-shaped porcelain egg cups, stag head vases, bezeled crystal flutes by Bohemia Machine, and Verreum?s bullet-shaped vodka chillers make particularly enviable souvenirs.
With its looming castle and cobbled old town (Staré Mesto) a gaslamp-lit mecca of atmosphere and architecture, Prague has a penchant for conjuring fairy tales. But the Czech Republic wouldn?t have featured street art and graffiti at the Shanghai Expo if its crown jewel was stuck in the past. Today?s artists and designers twist traditional craft with au courant attitude.
A cabal of creativity takes over Prague during the 13th annual DesignBlok, October 4?9.
A Design Hotels member, Hotel Josef mixes quirk and minimalism (butterfly taxidermy and spongy orange duvets, anyone?) in the heart of Old Town.
Smoke-filled with a relaxed D.I.Y. aesthetic, FenoMan is the best of the basement bars in the Vinohrady, Eastern Europe?s most vital gay quarter.
Get your goulash on at U Pinkasů. Amid the tourist traps, it does hearty Czech cuisine right.