Leon Jakimič: A success story

Leon Jakimič and Michiel Hofman (interview here) were two main speakers at the TechoCon conference. 

LASVIT, the glassmaking and design company, is led by the king of Czech glassmaking, Leon Jakimič. In this interview Leon Jakimič tells the success story behind this renowned brand, and also something about what drives this inspirational entrepreneur.

Leon Jakimič was born in Liberec, and North Bohemia is a region that has always been connected with glassmaking. From a young age Leon evidently gained an affinity for the glassmaking industry and an understanding for glass as a material. He originally wanted to become a professional tennis player, but in the end he selected a different route to the top.

Where did you find the motivation for the route that you selected? And where do you find it today?

As a sportsman, patriot and descendant of a family of glassmakers and glass traders, I tried to find, after finishing my education, a career that would fulfil me – that was and remains my motivation. You can learn more in the short film Breakpoint, which depicts the birth of LASVIT.

Do you participate in individual projects, or leave everything to your team of designers and glassmakers?

We started with four people, and I took on the role of salesman. At that time I knew about all the projects that LASVIT did. Today LASVIT employs over 400 people and the company has a structure. Projects are run by project managers who know the work of the glassmakers and designers. Today I work with key partners and clients, and on the company vision, strategy and culture.

How do your installations influence the space in which they are located, and why do customers select them?

We create beautiful objects from glass, whether they be large installations or lighting design features and glass objects. We believe that if a person is surrounded by beauty it will change his/her life for the better. At the same time we want to be a continual inspiration, which in today’s world means continual progress. Today we produce dynamic installations through which light passes and responds, for example, to music. We also produce kinetic installations that move.

Over the past 12 years the company has come a long way. In 2018 we received the main prize at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, which is something like the Oscars for design. Customers already know what LASVIT is able to achieve and they chose us because we supply them a perfectly crafted work as well as a unique design, made just for them.

Do your installations have any characteristic element that acts as a signature for LASVIT?

The LASVIT identity is built on people and our corporate values, which are – Love and Humility, Activity and Courage, Sovereignty and Responsibility, Vigour and Passion, Innovation, and last but not least, Teamwork. All these values go into the illuminated works of art that the customer sees. It is my hope that installations from LASVIT become a synonym for these values and that the customer can identify these values in the finished glass sculpture.

Another factor is making a connection between modern technology, traditional crafts and exceptional design.

Is there any dream project that you would like to deliver?

In general this would be a project that gives us creative freedom, that will be located in an interesting architectural environment accessible to the public so as to inspire as many people as possible, and link the story of the town, region and nation. A specific example? Perhaps the Liberec library, which would be a fitting location for a unique LASVIT installation.

LASVIT has certainly contributed to the continuation of the glassmaking trade. Do you think it might inspire other similar projects that would rejuvenate different crafts and trades?

Our vision is to be the most inspirational glassmaking company. It would make me happy if this inspiration was transferred to other crafts, and I think it would be possible. I am convinced that crafts and trades have a future. Although a range of activities are today automated and take place without any manual work, a good craftsman cannot be replaced by a machine.

You, and LASVIT as a whole, always appear from the outside to be calm and collected. Do you ever find yourself under pressure? If so, how does your firm deal with it?

In our work we are constantly under pressure of some form, but we strive not to dwell on it and to continue to enjoy our work.

Can you share any amusing story with us? After 12 years running LASVIT you must have a few.

I have a somewhat tragicomedy anecdote. Designer Ross Lovegrove arranged a breakfast for me in London with David Gilmour, frontman of Pink Floyd. However, the night before I had a birthday celebration in London with colleagues and I overslept and missed the breakfast. An unbelievable moment – the extraordinary opportunity to meet with one’s idol was made even more extraordinary by the fact that the opportunity is missed by oversleeping…

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