DISPLAYS of contemporary art, designer glassware, and sculptural shapes add warmth and vibrancy to the “late functionalism’’ Czech Republic Embassy in Beijing in which ambassador Libor Secka and his wife, Sabrina Seckova, have been living for more than four years.
The architecture of the residence itself is a piece of art.
“I respect the architectural spirit of the building, combining with modern arts,” Secka said. “The clear lines, simplicity of the building integrated with light comes through from the window, without over-upholstered rooms. The residence shows deepness of profound art. I combined my style of modern arts with respecting the original design and spirit of the building.”
The ambassador said the Czech Republic Embassy residence in Beijing is as old as him.
“We were both born in the year of 1961, and because of that, we understand each other so well,” he joked. “The building was designed by a team of architects led by the famous designer and architect Filsak.”
The residence is Filsak’s most prestigious design work. The style of the building is “late functionalism,” which means that it contains pure lines but also with all necessary details, making the building well-balanced, simple yet elegant. “It is functional, not only for living but also for work. We even have a cinema room within the residence,” Secka said.
His wife said the first thing after they settled on was to change the colors and fabrics to make the home’s space more cozy and welcoming.
The first-floor reception area features a well-curated collection of Czech glassware artworks that draws your attention at first sight.
“First of all, the Czech Republic has a long tradition of glassware,” the ambassador said. “There are many schools in our country educating professionally in the field of design and producing techniques of glassware. We are well-known as the ‘capital of modern crystal’.”
“Therefore, it is not easy to select just a few pieces to display in the public area of the residence. Those pieces we selected for display are there for two main reasons: First, for commercial purpose. Those brands can be found and purchased from crystal shops, and we display them also to promote Czech brands commercially. Second, some pieces we selected for display are very artistic. They are unique pieces made by different designers and artists.”
For example, they are currently displaying pieces designed by famous Czech artist Borek Sipek, who designed for the former president of the Czech Republic, and his artistic works were exhibited in Prague Castle. Sipek is also an architect who is working on building designs not far from Shanghai.
The ambassador loves modern art and has a small collection, which covers more than 50 artists. Among them are more than 30 Chinese artists.
“It’s very difficult to specify any particular artists since I like them all and more importantly, they are all my friends,” said Secka.
“As the Embassy of Czech Republic in Beijing, we promote cultural dialogue between artists of two countries; we have a program called ‘embassyart,’ an instrument of dialogue and a bridge of arts between Czech Republic and China,” he added.
In the past two years, more than 20 exhibitions were held under the “embassyart” program. On September 20, the embassy will host an exhibition of famous sculptor Yu Fan, ink painter Wu Yi and Czech artist Pavel Opocensky, who sculpts jewelry from jade.
“The exhibition will be held in the garden of the embassy, with music and Czech beer, of course,” Secka said. “It will be a ‘summer afternoon of arts.’ As the ambassador of the Czech Republic to China, I am very pleased to see that during my tenure, the embassy has become another important place for art and cultural life in the city of Beijing.”
As an art lover, Seccka visited two of the most prestigious museums on a recent trip to Shanghai: Shanghai Power Station of Art and Long Art Museum.
“I’m very glad to say that we will definitely coordinate and cooperate closely with the Czech Consulate General Shanghai to develop future cooperation in the field of modern arts with the city,” he said.
At the envoy’s residence in Beijing, the second floor consists of 200 square meters and oozes personality. A mild palette of white and beige creates a chic, cozy family space filled with modern furniture and a selection of contemporary art and photographs.
Besides the spacious reception room and the second-level family space filled with art and culture, the residence also has a big garden where kids can enjoy the playground.
“The garden is an oasis in the city center of Beijing,” Secka said.
The ambassador said now is a very important period of the Czech-Chinese bilateral relationship.
“Historically, we have a long tradition of cooperation; certainly, there were natural ups and downs, but overall, we share a long friendship with China. There are four symbols of bilateral cooperation between two countries: Skoda Automobile, crystal glassware, Czech beer and the most famous Czech character ‘the little mole’.’’
“Now we are welcoming a new era in film cooperation: the first-ever Chinese movie filmed in the Czech Republic, named ‘Somewhere Only We Know,’ which is directed by famous Chinese female director Xu Jinglei,” he said.
“As we are celebrating the 65th anniversary of establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties this year, the relationship between Czech Republic and China is getting more intensive. We are expecting many more opportunities in the field of bilateral cooperation. The two countries are strengthening inter-governmental dialogue. The president of the Czech Republic will visit China in the autumn.