Q&A With Karen Feldman at Artel

Luxury handcrafted glassware combining unique design and traditional techniques. 

Established in 1998, ARTEL is a luxury glassware brand. Initially, Karen wanted to be a free intern at MOSER, who were a renowned crystal company located in the Czech Republic. Karen decided to change direction and launch her own company. At the time, Karen’s knowledge was limited, but her dedication, perseverance and natural aptitude was demonstrated through her designs and continued success. Karen has worked with some highly influential brands and her client list includes the likes of Asprey, Rolls-Royce, Manolo Blahnik, Giorgio Armani and Gucci. In 2007, Artel opened the Artel design studio in Pragues historic old town. Karen has created a gallery like environment featuring luxurious Artel glasswork and a hand selected collection of vintage and contemporary toys, jewellery and fine design pieces.

The business has gone from strength to strength and Karen has had the opportunity to work on some of the most luxurious pieces. 30% of the glass used by Artel is recycled and Karen believes in the true beauty of crystal glassware.

The number of pieces created by Artel varies and there are many things that will determine what can be produced. Every product is handmade from start to finish. Some motifs will be made quickly while others can take a number of days depending on the level of detail. The glasswork goes through a number of stages and can include engraving, cutting, sandblasting, painting, gliding and etching. Inspiration for the designs is drawn from a number of places from vintage postcards through to illustrations and buildings. Inspiration is all around and this influences many of our designs and glasswork.

How did Artel start?

I started ARTEL in 1998. Originally I had wanted to be a free intern at MOSER the most famous crystal company in the Czech Republic – but when they did not reply to my query to be a free-intern I decided start my own company. At the time I knew nothing about how crystal was made but this served me very well as I was not aware of the limitation. 

What attracts Karen to crystal glassware?

I love that it is beautiful jewel that can be decorated and done in so many way. In many ways it is like an artists canvas for me.

We would love to know how you produce your glassware, what is the process behind the craft?

The exact number we produce each year varies, and many things factor into how much we can produce. All of our products are handmade start to finish. Some motifs can be decorated quite quickly, while others takes days due to multiple steps and techniques. At ARTEL we offer pieces made with the following techniques, often more then one of these is combined to create one glass or object: Engraving, Cutting, Sandblasting, Painting, Gilding & Etching.

Where is inspiration from for the designs?

Inspiration for ARTEL motifs can come from anywhere. To be honest, I don’t really follow trends, instead I take inspiration from what is inspiring me at any given time. Inspiraiton can come for a vintage postcard I have found, a piece or art I have seen, a beatiful building , a book with marvelous illustrations... anything really..

What is the most unusual commission or collaboration Artel has worked on?

A luxury purveyor of lingerie and erotica commisioned us to make them a bespoke collection of crystal for their boutique. We also made a limited edition glass set that was designed by mathmaticans and physiscts that had won Nobel Prize or Field Medal.

What is the most exciting part of the design and making process?

I love seeing the first sample. Often we will make serveral samples after the first initial sample, before a design in finalized, but with the first sample I can begin to really imagine how the design needs to be edited and tweaked to reach my final vision.

What sustainable aspects are there to the company?

30% of the glass is recycled – this is part of the manufacturing process.

The Design Buzz invites you to view all of Artels products available for sale here. Check out the video below for more behind the scene footage of Artel.