Reporting from the Third Annual Vienna Design Week
If you’re following us on twitter, you might have noticed that I was recently filing from the third annual Vienna Design Week. Fall came late this year, and we fairgoers flitted from café to showroom to heurigen under warm and sunny Austrian skies. Exploring the city’s ancient streets, watched over by staid imperial architecture, I saw work that was surprisingly clever, from repackaged hundred-year-old leather shoes (and their smells…) to cutting-edge extruded aluminum.
Passionswege, the fair’s main event, paired upstart designers from Vienna and around Europe with some of the city’s oldest manufacturers, like Rudolf Scheer and Söhne shoes (1816), Augarten porcelain (1718), and J. and L. Lobmeyr glass (1823). London’s Max Lamb played with worth and work, designing a line of Lobmeyr glasses that increase incrementally in price with each divot carved into them. Barcelona’s Marei Wollersberger made a deliciously Freudian coffee set out of porcelain cups that reflect the drinker’s neuroses—slurping straws for the attention-starved, blindfolds for loners. Merano, Italy’s Walter Thaler turned a centuries-old shoe factory into a spa offering leather-scented perfumes and a relaxing(ish) ambient soundtrack of cobblers hammering. Meanwhile, Michael Young showed some of his newest work at the Designfunktion gallery, hyping the cutting-edge manufacturing tech he’s discovered while living in Hong Kong with a gorgeous bent aluminum chair and Zipte Link, a groovy 3-D aluminum puzzle.
Flashy, yes, but homegrown talent stole the show. The twenty-something trio Breaded Escalope ran a grab-and-go gardening supply store in a (slowly) up-and-coming design district in a far corner of town—pick your plant, pick your dirt, and they whip up a mini-plot for you in a fast-food container. I also saw their cool distressed roto-molded stools at Das Moebel on the other side of the city, along with great felt-covered kids’ furniture from Graz-based Perludi. Debut, a show in an old fruits and vegetables stand, displayed local grads’ entries to this years Dyson Awards, including Andrea Hoke’s brilliant chair made from a fabric sack and three wooden rods. And the graphics studio MotMot seemed to pop up everywhere, from the always-awesome MAK museum, where posters by them and other young Viennese designers filled three floors of a side gallery, to a packed Pecha Kucha where they were silk-screening T-shirts. I had no shirt to spare, but I snagged a packet of irreverent cartoon postcards. I mailed them paired with the irresistible tourist cards of palaces and statues—the perfect representation of a city whose designers know how to have fun with its history.