The Team 2017 of the Viennese Design Week with their director Lilli Hollein (left).

Cooking up a storm

The “Vienna Design Week” has been a firm fixture for some years now. And it will get its 11th airing from September 29 through October 8.
by Thomas Wagner | 9/18/2017

As Karl Kraus once remarked, “In art, it is not all about the right ingredients, but about cooking up a storm with the ingredients you do have.” And in design, too, the right ingredients are not enough. A fascinating focal district, original Passionswege and a guest of honor – always fresh, the ingredients for Vienna Design Week are tried and tested and have lent Austria’s largest design festival an impressive continuity. The event has also succeeded in proving that it knows how to cook up a storm with the ingredients it has.

As far as ingredients are concerned, in the 11th year of its existence the team in charge of the festival cofounded and managed by Lilli Hollein is combining Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus, the 15th district of Vienna, Romania as guest of honor and all kinds of exciting cooperation agreements for the Passionswege. Instead of just having the public marvel at individual objects, the festival places design at the heart of everyday life in the city. Exhibitions, workshops, participatory projects, talks, cooperation agreements and guided tours are used to investigate the city’s current product output. With this in mind, visitors are offered national and international projects, various positions, works in progress and production processes, along with experimental approaches to architecture, graphic design, product design, furniture design, industrial design and social design. Most of the contributions have been specially created for Vienna Design Week.

Focal district: Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus

This time, the focal district is Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus, Vienna’s 15th district on the outskirts and to the west of the city center between Hofburg and Schloss Schönbrunn, a district with an up-and-coming multicultural feel with its mixture of small kebab stands and gentrified stand-up cafés. Here the festival is discovering new pastures and focusing on local companies with established traditions. Visitors from afar will be able to discover a Vienna beyond the touristy downtown and even the Viennese will have the opportunity to explore a new part of their city.

North and South: Two festival centers

As usual, the festival will be based in the focal district. But this time, because Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus is cut in half by the tracks of the Westbahn railway, there are two festival centers: The place to start is Festivalzentrale Nord in the blue house right by Westbahnhof station at Europaplatz 1. This is the hub of the festival with an information desk, a pop-up café and myriad festival entries. Festivalzentrale Süd is located on a pretty square, at Sparkassaplatz 4, in an architectural gem, a dome-topped late 19th-century edifice erected by Kommunalsparkasse Rudolfsheim, a savings bank established in 1881. The lower stories of the building were given a facelift in the early 1970s by architect Johann Georg Gsteu. This is where all the festival talks will be taking place.

Passion Paths - Katharina Eisenköck with Petz Hornmanufaktur

The beating heart: The Passionswege

As in previous years, the Passionswege, the curated element, will be the “creative heart” of the festival. Once again international and Austrian designers have been invited to put together out-of-the-ordinary projects in an open process and together with Viennese craft manufacturers. In 2017 the Passionswege companies are located both in the 1st district and in the focal district of Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus. Moreover, there is a festival location in the Mariahilf district. What project manager Julia Hürner finds so great about the Passionswege is “that there are still so many fascinating craft enterprises to be discovered. It is this diversity that we want to introduce our visitors to, raising their awareness of production processes, both from the designer’s perspective and from the viewpoint of the city’s craft manufacturers.”

Original cooperation projects

And what do the Passionswege have to offer? Dutch property designer Jólan van der Wiel is teaming up with J. & L. Lobmeyr, a company with a long-standing tradition. A family business now in its sixth generation, Lobmeyr has been making history in glass for 200 years now and researching into the properties of the material. Wiener Silber Manufaktur is sharing its passion for silver with Nadja Zerunian and Peter Weisz, two designers specializing in traditional handcrafting who have, since 2014, been working for the “Erste Foundation Roma Partnership” in conjunction with Romani families in Transylvania. Saint Charles Apotheke Wien is cooperating with Moya Hoke, Kristin Weissenberger and Günter Seyfried of pavillon 35, an association which uses biomolecular processes to investigate the areas of art and design, amongst other things. Austrian designer Katharina Eisenköck is working on a project with Petz Hornmanufaktur and coppersmiths Hegenbart are collaborating with Matthias Lehner, a Munich-based designer.

Programpartner Glashütte Comploj

Social Design

“Stadtarbeit” (city work) is a format offering designers the opportunity to take part in a project in the field of social design. A jury has been set up and has chosen five promising concepts from the 58 entries submitted. These concepts will be realized during Vienna Design Week, partly in collaboration with Caritas Vienna.

One example is social lab “Admirabel – Was kostet” which, in a temporary betting shop, will be offering new perspectives on the subject of gambling, challenging participants to negotiate their stakes on an individual basis. As part of the project “Drawing Public Space” the architecture studio and research platform Ecòl will be drawing a large-scale pattern on a square in the focal district with the aim of fostering a sense of belonging in the neighborhood. “Lebenswelten” (lifeworlds) is part of the art research project Dementia. Arts. Society. (D.A.S.), which will be using participatory workshops to raise public awareness of the world in which dementia sufferers live. With the refugee crisis in mind, the “Guerilla Architects” collective will, together with migrants, be developing experimental alternatives to current refugee architecture. And for “Vitamin Architects”, Alexandra Trofin and Farkas Pataki will be inviting visitors to a food-sharing event called “Tischlein deck dich” with the aim of promoting social interaction.
And last but not least there is “Debüt” where once again national and international universities will be invited to present their projects at the festival. This time Werkraum Bregenzerwald is teaming up with London’s Royal College of Art and the Architecture and Urbanism faculty at Politehnica University of Timisoara. If Robert Musil is to be believed, it is “reality that opens up possibilities”, and this is particularly the case if good ingredients can be used to cook up a storm.

Vienna Design Week
September 29 until October 8

Stadtarbeit – Re-Tracing Home – Guerilla Architects
Drawing Public Space – Ecól
Programpartner "Is ma wuarscht: Wiener Würstelstand new thinking" – Heimat Wien/ Agentur für Veränderung