Shit happens at Vinohrady in Prague is a studio, the name of which is a perfect reflection of its young founders’ attitude towards life. When you work with porcelain, you have to be in a zen state of mind and creatively persistent as the outcome of your work is uncertain until you finally take the piece out of the oven.
Zuzana Holaňová first got her school friends excited about the project and together, they tried a number of ateliers before finding the right one in Anny Letenské street at Vinohrady. They did wonders with the space, which used to be a shop with witchcraft supplies, and turned it into something completely different. The first part of the studio functions as a gallery shop with various porcelain pieces such as authorial jewellery or classy gold glazed espresso cups displayed along its white walls. All their products are a fusion of beauty and wit and may bear a deeper meaning as well. An example of that is a collection of jewellery named Angry Bitch which, in its own way, deals with the theme of female pride.
The gallery shop leads into a workplace which is a great treat for the curious customers who are fascinated by the creative process. Seeing the actual designers at work has been very popular with visitors and it is also what distinguishes this space from other design shops in the city. This unique experience is further underlined by workshops, taking place from time to time at Shit happens, that give the participants a great opportunity to try making some original pieces themselves and take them home afterwards.
How long had Shit happens been around before you opened your own studio at Vinohrady?
We’ve been around since January 2013. Since then, we’ve managed to move from an atelier in Vršovice to Národní třída and finally to Vinohrady where you can currently find us.
The concept of having a shop and workshop in one space has really caught our eye. The customers coming to take a look at your products have a chance to see the production process as well. Was this always the plan?
When we started looking for a new atelier, my vision was finding a beautiful and clean space, which is usually impossible when one works with porcelain and ceramics. I didn’t want a dirty and stuffy basement workshop, though. I still remember that too well from high school. We do work in a basement now, that much has not changed, but we have managed to approach it completely differently. The dusty workshop part full of dirty tools is what fascinates customers the most, anyway. Sometimes they’re surprised as to how much work goes into making one piece and they can also meet the designers, which they appreciate as well. It’s just a little hard to keep the studio tidy - working with porcelain can get quite messy but thanks to the shop part of the atelier, we try to be as careful as possible and that never hurts.
How many people are behind the Shit happens project? How did you become a team?
Currently, there are six people – five porcelain and one graphic designer. The whole project started as my personal therapy, gradually I persuaded Martina Žílová to get involved as well, and together we created the first collection, and Marek Fanta who came up with the whole visual part. Later, we recruited two more women – Lenka Lupačová and Veronika Chomičová. This year, we finally managed to get another male element Adam Jaroš. We also cooperate with Dáša Hujerová who helps us with PR. All of them are my classmates so that’s how we know each other.
You make mostly designer jewellery out of porcelain. Does each of you have a specific work style? Are they more authorial pieces or collective work?
I’d say each of us has a specific work style. The studio is a mixture of both collective work and authorial pieces from the designers. Each of us has a slightly different style so it’s quite easy to tell our work apart. When needed, though, we can work as a team and cooperate. We argue a lot in the process but we always reach a compromise.
You’ve presented your work abroad as well, for example in Vienna and Milan. How did people react to your work?
Both trips were a great experience. We were kind of expecting not everyone would stomach our name and philosophy so we were very pleasantly surprised that so many people there liked what we do.
Could you briefly describe the process of making porcelain jewellery?
Briefly? The process is complicated :) It is quite a long procedure where the outcome is uncertain. We have to make a plaster model for every design and a mould for that model that the porcelain is poured into. Every size and design has its own mould. There have to be many samples done for every new design so that the imperfections are fixed as we only see the imperfections after firing, not before. Each piece is retouched, cleaned and glazed and still, you can’t be sure if it survives the firing process. If it does survive with no flaws or defects, the next step is decoration. We use either high temperature imprints or gold or platinum. Sometimes it happens that you make a whole batch of things and when you take it out of the oven, one piece is worse than the other. At this point you simply say “shit happens” and you go back to the workshop and do it all again. That’s a part of the process, though.