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Interview With Jan Kaplicky

Future Systems

Interview  With Jan Kaplicky
By Alessandra Orlandoni -

Alessandra Orlandoni – You were born in Prague in 1937 into a family of artists. After finishing at the Decorative Arts Institute, you went to the State Design Office where you showed an extraordinary talent for making a technical drawing into a work of art. After that, you attended the School for Applied Arts and Architecture, leaving with the title of Academic Architect to start exercising your profession in a country that offered little freedom of expression.
On September 12, 1968, you moved to London, the symbol of creative freedom. In what way did these two very different environments influence your professional career?
Jan Kaplicky – There were good reasons to escape my Russian dominated country as empowerment was very limited there. After the war, the Communists took over, imposing a dictatorship and making it impossible to achieve anything that was even slightly out of the ordinary. You had the feeling that everything had already been done. But I didn’t have the time to sit around just waiting. Had I waited, I would have made nothing of my life. Nor could I teach, produce brainy things or even organise a small exhibition. Nothing.

A.O. – In fact you weren’t allowed to attend University because you came from a middle-class family.
J.K. – Exactly. The first time round, I was not admitted and had to go to the State Design Office. And so it went on. I couldn’t  travel, buy books; it was really difficult  to get informed. That droved me mad.

A.O. – You were very much influenced by LIFE, the American magazine...
J.K. – Yes, LIFE was a very powerful magazine. Nothing of the kind exists any longer today. They had the best photographers and the best images. But as soon as the Communists took over, they stopped LIFE entering the country, and I started feeling as if I was in a prison. Occasionally my godfather sent me books from the United...

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