‚‚Design evaluation is a problematic issue,‘‘ says Best in Design winner Ondřej Pechal

3. 8. 2021 | Martina Jelínková

The winner of the 12th year of the international Best in Design competition, Ondřej Pechal, stood out among several towers 380 competitors from all over the world with his design of the Edudant cast iron radiator. We asked the winner how the work was created, how the proposal was defended before the jury and what Ondra’s plans for the future. The young designer claims that one of the great sources of inspiration for him is travel, and as he says, not only is he looking forward to the world returning to normal after the coronavirus pandemic.

How was the Edudant radiator created? Why did you use cast iron?

Cast iron radiators are excellent for their durability and thermal properties. Despite this, the market offer in this respect is limited today and cast iron radiators are perceived as rather archaic, which I think is perhaps a pity. At the same time, working with cast iron presented a certain challenge for me, as it requires a sensitive sculptural approach, but the space for expression is narrowly defined by technical, production and functional requirements. In the process itself, then, I worked mostly with clay and a set of mirrors, using which I always multiplied my creation to verify its appearance in the series.

What did the Best in Design competition give you? Was it difficult to defend your work to the jury?

I see the award as a reassurance that my work and efforts are worthwhile. This is all the more important for me now, when I am about to be confronted with practice after leaving school. The defence itself was rather pleasant for me in the final, perhaps because I did not underestimate its preparation.

Do you have a role model? Whose work do you like, in the Czech Republic and in the world?

I can’t think of anyone in the field that I would consider my role model. I like it when someone does their work honestly and with passion. That’s why I’m glad for every opportunity to cooperate with craftsmen.

What was the main reason you entered the competition?

I was looking for additional feedback in the competition. Because I see design evaluation as a rather problematic issue from my experience as a student. First of all, it is more or less a matter of subjective perspective, but most importantly, I feel that there is little talk about the evaluation of work at our school, and feedback often ends up on the mark sheet.

How has your work changed during the coronavirus pandemic? 

Fortunately, the pandemic caught me just at the final stage of my studies, when I had already completed almost all practical and theoretical subjects. I was initially sceptical about the possibilities of distance learning studio design, but it turned out that it can work very well. In some ways I would even say better than it had worked in person at school up to that point. I wouldn’t be surprised if a combined form of consultation, perhaps once per two weeks in person, otherwise online, continues to take hold in some studios at our school.

You’re a freelance designer. What do you see as the advantages of “working on your own”?

Up until now, I’ve primarily been a full-time student, so I haven’t had the opportunity to really get to know freelancing and therefore don’t feel competent to judge its advantages and disadvantages. Maybe in a few years 🙂

The Edudant radiator you entered in Best in Design is your graduate work at CTU. What do you plan to do after your studies?

Not really, Edudant is my thesis project from the previous semester. I’m currently finishing my master thesis and in it I’m designing a concept for an autonomous bus for the 2030s that will fill the gap between the rapid transit network and shared urban vehicles. After the holidays, I would like to go on a work placement abroad to gain practical experience, learn languages and experience what life is like elsewhere.

Do you have a dream you would like to fulfil?

This might sound like a cliché, but I would mainly like to do things that I enjoy and give me a purpose. And ideally provide for me and eventually my family.

How do you plan to handle winning Best in Design?

I will definitely put it aside and use it to travel eventually. This is a great source of inspiration and energy for me and I can’t wait until the pandemic period is over and I can travel freely again.

Is there anything you would advise the contestants for next year’s Best in Design?

I think the most important thing is to be consistent and pay due attention to every stage of the work. The final product can only work if all the pieces fit together seamlessly. But what I feel is sometimes a bit neglected is the choice of an adequate form of presentation for a given audience. A presentation to a professional jury in a competition requires a different approach, a defence at school a different one, and a social media post for example, a completely different one. So I would recommend not to underestimate this. 🙂