Handcrafted Czech glass lighting & objects, designed in Northern California
Learn about SkLO’s origin story, and what makes their pieces special and incredibly unique
From right: SkLO co-founders Karen Gilbert, Pavel Hanousek, and Paul Pavlak
Named after the Czech word for ‘glass’, SkLO is a designer lighting brand based in Northern California devoted to honouring the simplicity, beauty, and long heritage of handblown Czech glass. In 2009, entrepreneur Pavel Hanousek joined forces with jewellery designer Karen Gilbert and architect Paul Pavlak in founding SkLO with the objective of celebrating raw materials, and drawing out the essence of glass and metal.
Twin 1.0 Wall Light in a hospitality project
Striking a balance between refined simplicity and the organic nature of their materials, SkLO’s lighting collections are individually crafted of solid brass and handblown Czech glass. Read on to learn more about the company from CEO Pavel Hanousek, as he shares a bit more about his roots, SkLO’s origin story, what they value, and where they are headed as a company.
Reflecting on roots
“I grew up in the Czech Republic and came to the US in my early 20s. It was a special time as I really arrived with nothing,” tells Hanousek in a recent brand newsletter. “I tried to get some education and was doing whatever I could to pay the bills… I was cleaning houses for a living and then trying to sell the same houses with my newly acquired real estate license. This experience gave me a great view into Western culture and how people lived. At the same time, I always knew I wanted to stay connected to the Czech Republic, and during my travels back to visit my parents, I would always dream about what I could do to keep myself connected. It [was around this time] I came across glass.”
A cluster of the Hold Pin Suspension above a kitchen table
“Czech glass was going through its golden age in the 1990s. The Czech Republic was trying to get on the map with its beautiful glass, which up to that point had been sold mostly to the Soviet Union and Asia. There were a lot of people trying new things. It was an inspirational time, and I grabbed the opportunity to explore the world that was opening up. I started visiting glass factories and studios, and getting to know the designers and glass blowers.”
From right: Lasso Chandelier Suspension light; a cluster of Dew Suspensions with clear and frosted diffusers
How SkLO Came To Be
The three co-founders lived in the same small town of Healdsburg in Northern California, and were first introduced by a mutual friend. “I had a business that had just managed to get through the crazy economic crisis of 2008,” Hanousek adds. “We originally began chatting about bringing Paul and Karen in to design a line of glass lighting for that business.”
The Wrap Table Light on a bedside table
Pavel, Paul, and Karen instantly recognized their chemistry and like-mindedness — their vision and drive continue to fuel SkLO today. “The more we spoke, the more we realized we had an incredible synergy with my connection to glass and Karen being a jewellery designer and Paul being an architect. We realized we could create something really special if we joined forces to bring this unique element to market.”
Drape Skirt 18 Suspension in a living room setting
What SkLO Values
Pointing to the synergy of the founding partners, SkLO offers a balanced perspective of design, experimentation, and artisanship. Each SkLO light has subtle irregularities that make it a unique reflection of its long heritage. Hanousek explains, “there are many European designers working in glass but Karen and Paul are Californians who are working in that tradition. And as the third Partner, I am a native Czech who lives and works in California.”
The Stem Suspension hanging in a sitting room
Bringing the Californian design sensibility to the age-old Czech glass tradition is “quite a unique combination,” says Hanousek. “Paul and Karen bring an unusual perspective working together as a pair. Karen brings the intricacy and expression of jewellery, and as an architect, Paul is a purist with a tremendous sense of design as a discipline. SkLO is a result of their talents, plus the material and medium of Czech glass craft, which I bring to the mix.” The result is one-of-a-kind light fixtures and sculptural accessories that can be seen in the world’s most luxurious hotels, restaurants, retailers, and residences today.
A number of Balance Suspensions lights in a restaurant project
Where SkLO is Headed
It’s an exciting time for a growing company. As Hanousek looks ahead at what’s in store for SkLO, he reflects on their humble beginnings and connects it to their natural progression and expansion. “SkLO was conceived as a design company, and that has never changed. We began with an interest in the material, the craft, and the process of Czech glass, and built from there. I think that has helped us overcome a lot of preconceived notions about lighting and also gives us the freedom to grow the business in ways that interest us artistically.”
Two sizes of the Float 1.0 Suspension with white diffusers and brushed brass stems
Excitedly, he reveals what we can expect to see from the brand in the near future, “[SkLO is] part of the new Fairmont Golden Prague Hotel project by Richmond International, a renovation of the 1960s brutalist Inter-Continental Praha designed by Karel Filsak. It is our first involvement in a big Czech hospitality project, and it's exciting for me to feel like SkLO has come full circle… We are also opening a brand-new flagship showroom and studio in California, where we can host people and demonstrate what we do in a very hands-on way. And we will be launching occasional furniture… a new collection coming out this fall that is a balance of fun objects and lighting and then natural extensions of these lines…”
Come learn more about SkLO’s lighting collections in our showrooms. Be sure to ask us about their Quick Ship collections and Custom Glass Colour options for projects.
Explore more of SkLO’s Lighting Collections >
From right: Dew Vessel Decorative Object; Stack Decorative Object
Discover SkLO’s glass objects for home >