EVA SÝKOROVÁ ČOMBOROVÁ
DISCOVER THE WORLD OF THE FOUNDER OF THE VIRVAR SHOWROOM IN BRATISLAVA
an interview by Olga Sládková
1. Endre Nemes, Vardag under Trettioäriga kriget (Everyday Life during the Thirty Years' War), 1977
2. Ervín Semian, Dievča s perlami, cca 1943
3. Dúbravsky Andrej, Mops, 2010
4. Dominika Petrtýlová, Vandal Vase - Fragonard 2018
First of all, something about you. Where are you from? How did you get to your current city?
“I was born (as the only one in my family) in central Slovakia, specifically in the picturesque Liptov region, where my family settled because of my father's work as a soldier and doctor. Right after graduating from high school, I went to university- first to Bratislava, then across the ocean to Toronto and from there, years later, back to Bratislava, where I (mostly) live to this day. But I am one foot in Prague, it is my second home. My third is my home town and region."
What path led to you opening your showroom/platform?
“I've always been close to art and design, I come from a family of collectors, and for years, I also ran and co-owned the largest Slovak auction arts & antiques company, which was during this time also relevant within the Czech Republic. Fashion used to be a great passion of mine as well, with an emphasis on the past tense, because lately, it has been going through an existential crisis. It was the lack of the right price vs quality ratio, the quality alone, and overall level, that led me to offer something that I prefer myself and that is lacking here, to the more demanding audience. Our comprehensive platform is meant to be a response or alternative to the superficiality and mainstream, and a path to sophistication, better information and wider outreach.”
How would you describe your showroom? What makes it different? Does it have any special history, design, characteristics or brand selection?
“Since its foundation, Virvar has characterized its commercial space by the same name - "space"/ showroom Virvar. It is not a typical shop it does not look like one at all, nor does truly have one. Its headquarters in a historic Art Nouveau building and one of the landmarks of the sophisticated residential district of Palisády/Slavín is an atypical building with all the original architectural elements preserved, from the massive decorative glass and metal entrance to the stucco and old terrazzo. The interior is both minimalist and welcoming, which, by the way, is something today´s architecture is missing, allowing installations of clothing and contemporary utilitarian design to play the main part. The signage on the facade is almost non-existent, one has to either "discover" us on their own or know very well where they are going.”
What is the story of your collaboration with Pigmentarium? How did you discover it and how does it affect you?
“Our pilgrimage is de facto linked from the beginning, both brands were created only a few months apart. We were close to the story, the concept and the direction of Pigmentarium, but above all the pursuit of niche and context, and the feeling was mutual. Everything else sort of just happened, as it tends to with similar stories. Even after a few years (a good example of how time flies), we are enjoying Pigmentarium and we are glad that our clients do appreciate the trust we put in the brand since the beginning.”
How do your customers react to Pigmentarium? Can you share some specific examples? Which products are the most popular?
“Virvar offers a slightly different service to its clients, a shopping trip should be above all an experience and a pleasant time spent, whether it is 15 minutes or an hour. That is why our customers always learn as much as possible about the brand and its products, directly from us. We pay a lot of attention to the interpretation and presentation of the portfolio, we feel that it is a big part of the "Virvar culture". The feedback is thus also very satisfying, as people not only like to hear about the products (and are interested), but have already grown to like them and have them as one of their staples. Slowly but surely the fragrances are "catching up" with the really good interior and design holders created for them, so the popularity ratio is levelling off nicely. ”
How do you see the future of the niche segment?
“Since everything in this universe works in cycles, specific segments, including the niche one, have their momentum and vice versa. But niche by its very nature is not and never has been for the masses, and there will always be visionaries and those who do not go with the flow. And also those who are trying to copy them.”
When a customer asks you in a shop which local tourist spots they should not miss, what advice do you give them?
How do you feel in Bratislava? How would you describe it to someone who is planning a Europe trip?
“Unfortunately, I have not been blessed in this regard. I must say though I love Slovakia, I spend plenty of time in the South and also in its other parts. I hate to say it, but I have to be honest. Bratislava is by far not my favourite city or place. It has a small historic centre and too many commercial centres, it has no metro and especially the traffic, and security situation have been problematic lately. Compared to Brno, Budapest, Vienna or Prague, Bratislava is not very inspirational, it is provincial, which might be a preferred advantage for some. I would recommend it for one or two evenings at most, visiting great gourmet concepts like Iasai or Irin, the FOG gallery and DOT, and of course Virvar with its cosmopolitan vibe. And then head in the direction of the already mentioned Liptov or even further - picturesque Čičmany, or the obligatory but still legendary Tatras.”