Maurice Mentjens

Photography: V. van Sloun

Sirius Praha is a “smart shop” and record shop housed in a typical 18th century building behind the National Theatre in Prague. The rooms are characterised by the barrel vaulting so typical of many buildings in the Czech Republic dating from that era. At the time of King Rudolf II (1552-1612), Prague was the alchemistic centre of Europe. Prague is one of the three capitals of magic in Europe, forming a magical triangle together with Lyon and Turin.

My first shop interior, in 1995 for Sirius in Maastricht, was designed as an alchemistic laboratory. The interiors for the Sirius stores in Roermond and Eindhoven (both dating from 1996) are based on alchemistic themes. I took the same theme as the basis for the design in Prague. The laboratory in Maastricht represents the scientific aspect of alchemy, while the spiritual aspect is portrayed in Roermond. Then comes Eindhoven, representing the alchemistic process or the Opus Magnum, the preparation of the Philosopher’s Stone or gold (or spiritual gold). I wanted to bring the last phase of this process to a kind of completion in Prague.

In the middle of the space in the shop in Eindhoven stands a black stone, surrounded by all the colours of the rainbow. In Prague, this black stone turns to gold. The interior in Prague is completely white, with a counter that is literally both black and gold. As you enter through the front door, the counter is black, but as you walk towards the next room, it turns gold. This effect has been created by using a special varnish, known as flip-flop lacquer. Depending on the viewer's point of view, the counter is either gold or black. Here too, the entirely white space can take on thousands of colours, albeit as a uniform-coloured glow of light. In this space, we also see glass bell-jars on the wall around the doorway to the larger room, under which are stored the “magic potions” sold at Sirius, the “smart products”.

The square niches behind the counter are used for the storage of records and as a display wall for new releases. In the room next door are three large record racks, arranged parallel to each other. By laying a sheet of glass on top of one of these racks, it can be turned into a display case for DJ requisites. The back wall is covered with mirrors, making the room look much larger. On this wall is a long DJ table, with five turntables and spaces for the records to be listened to. Above the DJ table, a large circle hovers like an aureole, with a dot in the middle:the symbol of eternity, which in combination with the dot represents the unity of a macro and micro cosmos. A large ring shape has been sanded away in the mirror, behind which are fluorescent tube light fittings, producing the light effect. Both rooms are illuminated by a large metal beam hanging from the middle of the ceiling. This beam continues right through the wall, as it were, and seems to form a construction that is supported by the metal frame around the doorway. The beam contains three colours of fluorescent lamps (red, green and blue), with which thousands of colours can be created but which produce white light if all switched on together.

I wanted to create a lattice of metal discs with a diameter of 25mm on the walls and on the vaulted ceiling. Magnets can be attached to these discs, so that records, CDs and t-shirts etc can be hung up on the walls and ceiling. For budgetary reasons, these metal discs will be added at a later stage. For the same reasons, the counter is currently covered with gold-coloured laminate rather than spray-painted with flip-flop lacquer. This will also be brought into line with the design at a later stage.

Maurice Mentjens
Martinusstraat 20

P +31 (0)46 481 14 05
KvK 14044737
Provincie Limburg
design & development: Atelier Fabien

Maurice Mentjens