Wenzel Hablik

The architect of invisible cities

When he was 6, Wenzel Hablik stared deep into a crystal he’d discovered in his hometown of Brüx — inside the crystal he saw “magical castles and mountains” that would haunt the artwork, architecture, and design of this most polymath of Czech artists.

Raised in his fathers cabinetry shop, Wenzel became a carpenter by age 12 — the beginning of an unrelentingly creative life. After his apprenticeship Wenzel painted proclain, worked as a draftsman for an architect, and studied painting at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule and the Prague Academy of Arts. At age 25, Wenzel made a solo ascent of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. Ascending though the clouds toward the glittering peak was an experience that would shape his 1909 collection Creative Forces — a folio of twenty etchings detailing crystalline structures perched in the snowy heights of the Alps.

The heavenly crystalline would haunt Hablik’s work, appearing in paintings, drawings, and more subtly in his interior design work. In 1907 Hablik met Richard Biel — a timber merchant who would become his mentor and patron. Through Biel, Wenzel Hablik expanded his work dramatically, evolving from artist to designer — over the next ten years he would create textiles, furniture, jewelry, wallpaper, and combine these physical elements into refracted colorful interior spaces — rooms that feel like living inside the fragmented light of a crystal.

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