Passion next to the Hofburg
by Nina Reetzke | Oct 5, 2011

It can take up to a hundred hours to make an elaborately decorated glass object by hand. That's just as long as the hour glass in the "Time Elapsed" installation created by Canadian designer Philipp Malouin in collaboration with Austrian glass manufactory J. & L. Lobmeyr that is on show at the moment at the Vienna Design Week. In fact, sand is the material used to make glass, and here its trickle accompanies the course of time. But the hour glass does not only create a heap of sand, but draws a pattern in the process, thus visualizing the effort that can be behind a decor. It remains a very trenchant statement precisely in Vienna, the city of the Habsburg monarchy, with its Baroque palaces, not to mention Adolf Loos' "Café Museum".

The collaboration between Philippe Malouin and J. & L. Lobmeyr is a perfect example of what the "Paths of the Passion" at the Vienna Design Week are all about. In each case, a young talent has joined forces with an established crafts company. In many places, visitors to the exhibition venues encounter the thoroughbred Viennese tradition: silver cutlery, candelabras, borders and the like. Countless viewers will no doubt respectfully admire the incredible degree of craftsmanship while others may perhaps critically deem what they see as "musty" and "over-frilled". All the more remarkable is the commitment the entrepreneurs show to contemporary design and all the more important the way the young designers have stimulated things. For instance, Tomás Alonso has come up with a tea service with wave-shaped surfaces, the female designers at Bezaproject have dreamt up upholstered swings, and Konstantin Schmölzer places a raised hide next to a vertical garden. What is striking is that the designs tend to be shaped by craftsmanship or artistry and there seems little indication of mass production being on anyone's mind.

The "Paths of the Passion" form a major element in the Vienna Design Week program, which is taking place for the fifth time this year. Mainly structured in terms of formats such as "Carte Blanche", "Debut" and "Laboratory", there is also a broad range of exhibitions, panel discussions and other activities to choose from – one of the focal points this year is Poland, the guest of honor. The two directors Lilli Hollein and Tulga Beyerle are evidently moving their project forward with great zest and determination. In future, the Vienna Design Week intends to be present with "Embassies" at events abroad. Good on you!

Vienna Design Week
Sept. 30 - Oct. 9, 2011