From September 28 to October 7, 2018, Austria’s largest and most international design festival took place for the 12th time. The festival centered on the downtown Neubau district where the museum quarter is also located, the first such presentation in the inner-city area. The festival was headquartered in the former Center for Community Medicine (Sophienspital), which dates from the turn of the 20th century, with its contemporary annex by Martin Kohlbauer making it the first port of call for visitors. Before the 13,000 square meter large complex is converted for multidisciplinary use its temporary use as an event base offered unusual perspectives: Design in the sterile atmosphere of onetime treatment rooms.
A microcosm of design was on show in the premises of the former clinic: Design Week projects ranged from everyday use to virtual reality and were assigned to the categories Debut, Passionswege, Protest, Stadtarbeit, Urban Food & Design and Virtual & Augmented Reality. Lilli Hollein, the Design Week director was keen to show design in its elementary functions. This included as part of “Passionswege” a glimpse at how design comes about and is produced. In the densely built up district there are numerous small workshops and during Vienna Design Week visitors were allowed inside to look at people working say in “Karak” tile workshop or “Glashütte Comploj”. Simultaneously, the produce of special cooperations were also on display: Viennese glass manufacturer J & L Lobmeyer cooperated with artists Hanakam & Schuller, Zuckerlwerkstatt with food designers Honey & Bunny and silver manufacturers Jarosinski & Vaugoin with Polish design studio Rygalik. Poland this year’s host country presented itself with the exhibition “The ABCs of Polish Design” by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute that was accompanied by a detailed publication. Inspired by the show Polish illustrators and graphic designers juxtaposed 25 of their visual interpretations with the exhibits.
Under the term “Urban Food & Design” and in collaboration with Vienna Business Agency visitors could find out about possible alternatives for meals in the future. Ideas included lichens as superfood, reflections on the importance of tableware but also architecture models of the Neubau district made using jelly. Alternative approaches were also demanded by the exhibition “Studio Protest”, which examined design’s influence in the guise of manifestations of resistance and solidarity on posters. Inspired by the many small details offered by Vienna Design Week it was also worthwhile considering the larger picture by way of conclusion: With the installation “Topping” on the roof of the Center for Community Medicine landscape architects Auböck and Karasz in cooperation with Bellaflora emulated the pattern of the streets in the form of specially laid out cultivated plants.