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Botas 66, Prague
The revival of a heritage shoe brand culminates in a design-minded concept store
by Adam Stech
on 30 May 2014
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Five years ago, Jan Kloss and Jakub Korouš—then graphic design students at Prague's Academy of Arts and Design—decided to bring classic Botas sport shoes back to life as part of a school project. Established under the name Botana in 1948 in the small town of Skuteč in East Bohemia, the factory that produced the shoes has become an “evergreen” for Czech professional and amateur sportspeople. And its legendary 1966 classic model, intended originally for indoor sports, became an icon.

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The two students were fascinated by the Botas 66 model and its timelessness and decided to revive it with a contemporary twist. They designed new colorways of the iconic model keeping in step with the sportswear of today—freshening the shoes' appearance. Their school project was a success and immediately garnered acclaim—even from Botas itself. Due to high demand, the new collection of shoes was put into production two years later. With the creative leadership of Kloss and Korouš, the company won one of the Czech Grand Design Awards in the process for its new Botas 66 product range.

Over the past three years, the duo has designed several new collections in which they played not only with colors but also with materials to create unexpected combinations. Digging into the brand's archives, the young designers discovered older shapes and styles that hadn't seen the streets in decades. The result of their efforts has been the newly fashioned hightop model and the Run and Urban models.

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Recently the duo decided to open their very own Botas 66 concept store in the heart of up-and-coming Žižkov district in Prague with the help of Darina Zavadilová of designSUPERMARKET. The shop houses their Botas 66 line under their complete and complex creative direction. Once a rough-and-tumble residential area, the neighborhood is now a hub for artists, designers and architects who run their studios here. The newly opened store is a beautiful light-filled space behind the large windows on the corner of Křížkovského St.

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Local design studio deFORM has designed a low-budget and effective interior with a shelving system for the storage of the eye-catching classic yellow shoeboxes. Designers Jakub Pollág and Václav Mlynář devised the elegant solution of a wall-hanging system made out of simple wooden sticks. Then, the space was furnished by simple benches and tables inspired by Enzo Mari's Autoprogettazione collection. The sales desk is a nod to the company's manufacturing roots with the wooden construction above and with sample materials and drawings from the production of the shoes on the shelves. The shop is open daily with a friendly staff—mostly designers themselves—who serve coffee and drinks. A selection of local magazines is on-hand for browsing, making Botas 66 a perfect respite from the busy streets of Prague.

Images courtesy of Botas 66

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