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The Lightbulb Staircase of Grand Cafe Orient in the House of the Black Madonna is one of Prague’s hidden gems. Designed by architect Josef Gočár in 1911, the building is the only surviving Cubist interior in the world.
During communism, the House of the Black Madonna served as office space, and in 2003, the building was made home to the Museum of Czech Cubism. The Grand Cafe Orient was reopened in 2005 with renovations and decor modeled from photos of the cafe from 1912.
The first implementation of Cubist architecture, the department store named U Černé Matky Boží (At the Black Madonna), built in 1911–1912, was designed by the then 31-year-old Josef Gočár for the wholesaler František Josef Herbst. The architect employed the characteristic Cubist idiom mainly on the entrance portal, dormer windows, wrought-iron grille at the entrance and the staircase balustrade; the illusive painting of the interior walls with geometric designs was equally compelling. Gočár also designed the interior of the café on the first floor that was dominated by heavy wrought-iron chandeliers, built-in furniture and a bar counter made of dark-stained oak wood. The 17th-century sculpture of the Black Madonna, formerly adorning the earlier Baroque building, was installed on the north-east corner of the new edifice, giving it its name.
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August 13th, 2018
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