Tucked away in a picturesque town near the point where Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic meet, Crystal Caviar specialises in making bespoke crystal glass features for private yachts and bigger cruise liners, and these include chandeliers, decorative glassware, crystal furniture and towering sculptures.
Bohemian crystal has long been a byword for quality and craftsmanship but walking into the Crystal Caviar showroom in Sluknov is like stepping into a contemporary art museum, albeit one housed in an 18th century church. Vast swirls of glass designed to mimic the movement of water sit side by side with complex optical illusion sculptures and great hunks of crystal that change colour with the light.
Marek Landa launched Crystal Caviar in 1995 when he started producing engraved glassware for hotels. This soon expanded to custom-made chandeliers and sculptures, and before long he was partnering with a number of renowned Czech artists and glassware specialists to create pieces that blur the line between interior design and art.
“Glass and crystal are such beautiful materials and it is always a privilege to work with them,” says Landa. “The beauty of glass is unique and that is why I fell in love with it. It is also an extremely luxurious material to create art with. I love art and now more than 70 renowned artists produce their art pieces in the Crystal Caviar premises.”
One of the artists Landa works most closely with is Vlastimil Beránek, whose output includes the world’s biggest sculpture made from a single piece of glass. His signature is the fluidity he manages to bring to his sculptures that are reminiscent of the movement of water, a wisp of smoke or the way a leaf flutters in the air.
His ‘Ocean’ series in particular has been applauded for the way it captures that perfect moment in a wave’s arc just before it crashes to the shore, while the ‘Smoke’ collection recreates the momentary airborne sculpture created by an extinguished match — but 2.3m-high and made out of topaz crystal.
His work is usually made bespoke for his clients, starts at €100,000 and requires six months to complete. Beránek’s signature is glass and crystal but he is happy to expand this to topaz, rose quartz and even bronze if certain outdoor temperatures are better suited to a metal-based design.
Together Landa and Beránek bring their work onto many of the most extraordinary yachts on Earth. Landa knew that yacht owners were too worried about the vibrations from ship engines and the natural movement of the sea to invest in chandeliers or sculptures — and that this was limiting their interior options. However, he saw a way around it and, using his technical expertise, created anchors for sculptures and chandeliers that allowed them to withstand a high level of turbulence.
“We’ve built more than 100 seaworthy chandeliers on many yachts and even more sculptures,” he says. “Crystal Caviar is considered to be the expert in building chandeliers that don’t rattle and that are safe and can last for years. And, so far, we haven’t had to repair a single chandelier or sculpture on a yacht, although we have been called in to replace ones made by other companies many times.”
Another artist Landa works closely with is Jan Frydrych, who has combined his striking optical glass structures with a lifelong passion for clocks to create a series of glass marine chronometers that start at €500,000. Made out of violet, deep blue or even pink Bohemia glass, they weigh up to 70kg and his signature thin laminations cover a timepiece made by top German clockmaker Erwin Sattler. These marine glass chronometers are utterly unique and fit more easily into contemporary yacht design than the weighty, wooden creations of the past.
Frydrych, who works out of a pale-pink house near the Polish border that dates back to the 19th century, spends up to 10 months on each chronometer, gently layering the glass to create the maximum optical impact. “When I am working, I put a lot of thought into how the chronometer will look through the layers of glass,” he explains. “But for the clock itself, I leave the technical details to Sattler. The movement needs to be absolutely precise and perfectly balanced, and much as I love clocks, he is the expert, not me.”
So while the Czech Republic may be a landlocked country in the heart of northern Europe, locals trained in the centuries-old art of glassmaking are busy transforming the interiors of glamorous vessels on far-away oceans, bringing a touch of Bohemian glamour to the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas.
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