Written by: Štěpánka Strouhalová
Photo by: Věroslav Sixt
Antique furniture in the hands of woodworker Zdeněk Wudy can have more lives than a cat. He can repair almost anything – and if not, he makes beautiful, accurate replicas like those for the Prague Municipal House or the Loos Villa.
IT’S HARD TO FIND a more eccentric example in the field of artistic crafts. In his youth he was a grower and breeder in Šumava, and later he worked as a backstage hand in the Karlín Theater. Today he’s a renowned woodworker and repairer of interiors in well-known landmarks. Wudy started out making household accessories and created his first wooden sculptures based on posters by Alfons Mucha. He got his first restoration job in 1991, the interior of a savings bank in Hradec Králové, including a beautiful table made of Macassar (a wood with black and brown stripes), a bookshelf, and Art Deco armchairs. Then he and restorer Vladimír Bok got a big order in the restoration of the Prague Municipal House. Many items from the interior of this unique art nouveau landmark, as we know them today, came right from Wudy’s workshop.
How is such demanding furniture repair carried out? “You have to create photographic documentation of every phase of the disassembly of an individual piece,” says Wudy. “Then you add the missing parts, repair and reassemble the structure, add veneers and other surfaces, all using the original technologies and materials. Even the same polishing procedure is used, only the glues and surface finishes are modern,” he explains.
Wudy’s points out that customers sometimes bring pieces that are so badly damaged that it’s better to protect them and make replicas of them for everyday use. “The better furniture is made, the greater respect people treat it with. So we also try to restore it to the same condition it was in years ago. I enjoy breathing new life and noblesse into old furniture,” he says. Thanks to his perfect knowledge of structures and technologies of the past, Wudy can create true replicas from photographs. When he was reconstructing the famous Loos Villa, he managed to make most of the interior from photographic documentation, plans, and drawings. Wudy restored all damaged parts to their original condition, and considers the heavy baroque desk inlaid with wood and ivory “in the old way” as his masterpiece. But he also likes to restore antique cars whose interiors and perfection in details can compete with the period luxury of private interiors.
Replicas of the sofas and armchairs in the living room of Loos Villa
Replicas of Josef Gočár’s cubist furniture in Prague Municipal House
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