Karen Feldman has always described herself as “a little quirky,” which is actually quite an understatement. For example, her senior thesis exhibition as a Fine Art Photography major at Bard College involved photographically documenting the transformation in her skin color resulting from eating two pounds of carrots daily for 40 days (she graduated with honors – and jaundice!).
Over the past 15 years, Feldman has channeled her uniquely creative vision in a very different direction, and she has achieved remarkable success along the way.
As founder and director of ARTĚL Glass, Feldman designs handmade luxury crystal glassware that blends modern design style with traditional Czech craftsmanship and is sought after by collectors and design connoisseurs around the world. ARTĚL’s products fill a niche in the market by combining the exquisite quality of mouth-blown, hand-decorated, 100% lead-free crystal with Feldman’s sophisticated-yet-whimsical approach to design.
Originally from New York, Feldman moved to Prague in 1994 and launched ARTĚL in 1998 with only $2,500 of her own savings, zero experience in the glass industry, and (due to the socioeconomic conditions of a newly post-Communist Prague at that time) no telephone or fax machine for the first year! The company has grown significantly since those humble beginnings, and now enjoys a global reputation for the highest quality products and a client roster that includes Rolls-Royce, Asprey, Manolo Blahnik, Giorgio Armani, and Gucci.
A decade and a half after its founding, ARTĚL’s creative force still flourishes. In 2007, Feldman opened the ARTĚL Design store, situated in the charming cobblestone streets of Prague’s historic Old Town.
Under the vaulted ceilings of its baroque storefront, Feldman has created a gallery-like environment featuring ARTĚL glassware showcased alongside an eclectic, personally curated selection of vintage and contemporary jewelry, toys, and other items of fine design.
The ARTĚL Design Store opening came just months after the publication of Feldman’s Prague travel guidebook, Prague: ARTĚL Style. A richly detailed ”insider’s guide“ based on Feldman’s insighful perspective as a long-term expat, this indispensable resource includes not only her expert tips on shopping for Czech-made products, but also invaluable recommendations on hotels, dining, activities, as well as often-overlooked sights and architecture – all with Feldman’s personal stamp of ”ARTĚL Style” approval. Six years after its original publication, a newly updated and expanded 2013 edition of the Prague: ARTĚL Style travel guidebook was released on May 28, 2013. Like the original 2007 edition, which sold over 6,500 copies in three print runs and received the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Award for Best Travel Guidebook, the 2013 edition is written in Feldman’s uniquely conversational, first-person style. Complementing the book release, Feldman has also recently launched a Prague travel blog on the ARTĚL website (www.pragueartelstyleblog.com).
Feldman’s other awards include Best Collection at DesignBlok 2008, for ARTĚL’s collaboration with six highly renowned Czech artists and designers, as well as the 2009 Czech Grand Design Awards, where the flagship ARTĚL Design store was honored as Showroom of the Year and ARTĚL was tied with industry giant Moser for the Manufacturer of the Year award. The second ARTĚL Design store, which opened in Prague’s Mala Strana neighborhood in 2010, earned ARTĚL the 2011 Gift & Decorative Magazine Retailers Excellence Award for Best Store Design.
Feldman and the ARTĚL brand have been featured in dozens of publications, including Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, Forbes Life, and the New York Times.
When not busy creating new glassware design motifs, she enjoys seeking out ever-more-obscure antique shops and relaxing at home with her partner, her new baby and her puppy, Rockino.