Vienna Design Week 2016: Passions Run High in Vienna

11.03.16 | By
Vienna Design Week 2016: Passions Run High in Vienna

One of the most interesting parts of Vienna Design Week was the ‘Passionswege‘ or ‘passion path’ – a series of collaborations between contemporary international and Austrian designers and traditional Viennese production companies. Funded by Vienna Design Week, the project encourages both parties to experiment, free from commercial constraints.


Founded over 150 years ago Neon Kunze was originally established as a sign-writing company – the “Neon” was added in the 1950s. Dutch design duo Rens (Renee Mennen and Stefanie van Keijsteren) are fascinated by the process of producing color with neon and made an installation demonstrating every shade of red that is possible.


Italian-born, London-based designer Martino Gamper, collaborated with 200-year-old glassware company, Lobmeyr, whose first shop opened in Vienna 200 years ago, but this wasn’t their first project together – they worked together for the very first Passionswege 10 years ago.


In 2016, Martino was back to play with Lobmeyr’s techniques from cutting, engraving, etching and sandblasting – the wide range of glasses presented are the result of his experimentations. Lobmeyr will select their favorites to put into production.


Founded in 1922, the Kunstanstalt für Kupferdruck (Art Institute of Copper Plate Printing) has been led by Wolfgang Schön for more than 40 years, during which time he has produced business cards, envelopes and images using a technique that was widespread in the 17th and 18th centuries in Vienna, but is now a dying art-form – Wolfgang is one of the last of his profession in the city.


During their visit to the printing house, Studio Es came up with the idea to communicate the classic motifs of copper plate printing using a contemporary visual language. The resulting collages and films were presented in Wolfgang Schön’s studio.


Sweden-based Australian designer Glen Baghurst worked with master piano maker and restorer Felix Lenz to create the ‘Grand’ armchair from brass, black piano lacquer, steel, wood and leather, using elements and fixtures more commonly found in the fabrication of grand pianos.


The armchair is available as limited edition of 10 chairs in acknowledgement and celebration of the 10 years of Vienna Design Week.


Slovenian Designer David Tavcar worked with Maria Stransky’s Petit Point, established in 1932. When he visited for the first time, he was inspired by the craftsmanship of the embroiderers, who work at such a tiny scale that everything is done using magnifying glasses. A range of over 800 colors are used with up to 2,500 stitches per square inch.


In his Passionswege project, David highlights this incredible craftsmanship with an installation that “zooms in” and “zooms out,” translating original floral designs by Maria Stransky – roses, violets or edelweiss – into contemporary embroidery designs.


With a history spanning almost 300 years, the Vienna porcelain manufacturer Augarten is the second oldest in Europe. They teamed up with Czech design duo Dechem – Michaela Tomišková and Jakub Jandourek – to reinterpret a classic vase into a table lamp.


Its base has the classic shape of a vase of Augarten, but using the techniques and materials of the porcelain factory combined with Dechem’s material of choice, glass, the team was able to combine the Viennese tradition of craftsmanship with contemporary design.


Finally, Czech designer and graduate of the University of Prague UMPRUM Michal Strach created an installation within the workshop of carpenter Philipp Cibulka. Despite language barriers and difference in age and experience, Michal was able to communicate Philipp’s key aim in life “I am a carpenter, I would like to make tables and chairs, which is my passion,” with a series of dolls house scenes made entirely from off-cuts from the workshop.


Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.