Garden Store / Production Design
The concept of formulating the design of a film trilogy about three different worlds is visually based on the supplementary platform of functionalist architecture, whose aim is to represent the advanced social level of our nation at that time.
If it wasn’t for the bad decisions the nation was to take after the war, it wouldn’t have had to experience the things it had to go through and we wouldn’t have to deal with the results again and again.
It was our decision, though and maybe this fact says more about who we are as a nation.
In the visual aspect of this trilogy I want to speak about what was once created, but primarily about all the things we are capable of destroying…
How obviously difficult it was and still is for our nation to accept success and wealth of another and how hard to acknowledge that someone is an employer – an owner, and someone else his employee.
As this fact is still applicable I think that this wrong decision is more than typical of our nation; much more than the celebrated and still referenced economic success of the 1930s.
The success so often spoken about by those who feel wronged, but who can’t function otherwise.
Yes, we are a very advanced and intelligent nation who can create things others can’t, but we can’t maintain this ability to “be the first” in the long term.
We find greater and more paradoxical self-confidence in humiliation, anxiety and depression, which always lead to a short-lived anxious national pride and patriotism…
As I’ve mentioned before this film trilogy consists of three worlds: the world of gardener Miloš Pecka in Jaroměř, the world of hairdresser Ota and the world of Jindřich who has no other professional marker apart from patriotism.
I placed each of these worlds in the visual style of the best architecture of the times – functionalism.
The world of gardener Miloš Pecka is formulated as a magnificently established company with financial commitments, but it is expected that it will work as a family business for several future generations.
In the screenplay the garden store is located in Jaroměř, in the Hradec region, where famous architects of that time such as Kotěra or later Gočár were active, I used this historical connection and adapted the design of the house.
The house is built as a prime example of functionalist architecture and looks like a levitating “steam boat” or rather a tree trunk where the front is dominated by the opulent round glass element with a staircase, which in this metaphorical formulation can be seen as the tree’s root. The corridor is the house axis around which the life in the house revolves. It leads to a long terrace from which greenhouses spread like tree branches.
Like all the other sets, the interior of the house is constructed in such a way as to provide various angles for the shooting and there are differently coloured materials such as yellow, red and green, which refer to the colours of the flora.
There are no real plants in the interior of this residential part. We only find plants in patterns on fabrics, ceramics and in paintings.
In the story line and in the context of events, when the “branches with fruit”, i.e. the greenhouses are nationalised, this passive presence of plants in the interior is replaced by real plants from the greenhouse. In the same ways as when branches are cut off a tree, the trunk pulls back the fruit for protection.
The interior of the house is spacious and full of glass so that the owners of the house and the garden store can watch the regular growth of their work. In the framework of nationalisation of the production areas, the view turns into an instrument of torture. I see the world of gardener Pecka as a very bright spot in our history of the society.
The second world is that of hairdresser Ota. Just like his relative Miloš Pecka, Ota built a villa in the newly developing villa quarter somewhere in Prague, probably also with financial help of the bank.
But primarily, he is the owner of a sumptuous and luxury hairdressing salon in the centre of Prague.
Like gardener Miloš, Ota established his business with future generations in mind. It would have remained a prestigious hairdressing salon to this day with an 80-year tradition and several generations of hairdressers. Everything would look similar to salons in other developed countries where there was not interruption of events. And just like in the case of gardener Miloš, his relative, Ota’s opulent hairdressing salon, his business, his life was nationalised. And so the world of the founder of a future tradition changes into a human tragedy.
The family house of hairdresser Ota is built as a solitary artefact on a bare hill with a huge horizon without any vegetation around – just like the various, now luxury villa quarters were founded in the past.
During the story, this not very luxury, but otherwise new and clean house will gradually dilapidate and using post-production it will get lost in the city growing around it, until it disappears and blends into the greyness of the surrounding world.
The third and for the significance of the film the most attesting and important world is the world of the character of Jindřich.
Jindřich was a simple and decent man from the countryside from Jaroměř who found a job at the Prague airport thanks to his knowledge of the Morse code which he had learned at the post office in Jaroměř. Jindřich, although he is not, feels like a real and elegant aviator.
In the trilogy of these worlds, families are established before the war.
Jindřich as a typical example of a Czech patriot feels the obligation to stand up to coming dominance of Nazism with resistance activity for which he logically ends up in a concentration camp. Because of his attitude, I let Jindřich deal with general and political issues rather than the natural protection of his family.
This approach is so characteristic of the Czech nation. We tend to deal with other issues instead of protecting the world we are directly responsible for, and that is our family.
I am convinced that that is the weak spot that separates us from other developed nations.
After returning from the concentration camp, Jindřich is awarded for his “resistance activity” and is given a luxury flat in the Prague quarter of Dejvice. He refuses to live among the furniture left behind by the original German owner.
In this third world, the exemplary ambivalence of “patriotism” is played out. Jindřich receives this apartment as a nationalised property that used to belong to a German woman, who must have been given the luxury, elegant and functionalist flat in the same way after it was taken away from a Czech or probably Jewish businessman or factory owner.
During the war the functionalist apartment was kept in its original architectural and design purity – until the arrival of Czech patriot Jindřich. As an example of the society’s general approach to values, the flat is tragically and irreversibly altered.
The original elegance and graphic linearity of the interior is built more or less on the concept of black and white; the white walls as the backdrop for the contours of the elegant lines of the dark in-built furniture made with dark makassar ebony veneer. This linearity is gradually replaced by Jindřich’s insensitive intervention when he moves in different and unsuitable pieces of furniture. The original white background is replaced with dark wallpaper.
The transformation of the interior metaphorically refers to the fundamental shift in the society when quality and respect to values is replaced with the adoration of people’s frustration and disrespect to tradition.
The original interior was dominated by architecture as a work of art; man as its author was only its part. After this shift there is a re-evaluation of significance. The light emanating from the walls is replaced by the paleness of the human faces…
Through the individual differentiation of the “worlds”, through their look and subsequent changes I speak about who we are…
I see the desired rehabilitation of society and reversing the “fall” as impossible, because there is nothing to rehabilitate… this is our true self.