WerkStadt Vienna: DESIGN ENGAGING THE CITY

Exhibition until March 17th 2013

by Valentina Ieva
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Conceived as a shopping tour, WerkStadt Vienna: DESIGN ENGAGING THE CITY also reflects the approaches of designers, craftspeople, and manufactories, as well as their collaboration. The showing, originally divided into three sections—“Showcasing Collaboration,” “Meeting of Worlds,” and “Communicating Design with Commerce”—is expanded at the MAK by a fourth area, “The Customer is King,” which focuses on Vienna as a historical and contemporary site of production—the city as a workshop.

Daphna Laurens with Wittmann© Katharina Gossow; Top: MAK/Katrin Wißkirchen

The projects that come about when unconventional stores, workshops or retailers with a longstanding tradition get wrapped up in a temporary, experimental project with international designers can be seen starting 12 December 2012 in the exhibition WerkStadt Vienna: DESIGN ENGAGING THE CITY at the MAK.

© MAK/Katrin Wißkirchen

Since 2006, VIENNA DESIGN WEEK founders Tulga Beyerle, Lilli Hollein and Thomas Geisler (since 2010 with the MAK) have selected up to 10 collaborative projects each year that bring together young designers with Viennese businesses.

Project 2009, mischer’traxler / Juwelier Rozet & Fischmeister© MAK/Katrin Wißkirchen

The exhibition presents a selection of nearly 40 such projects initiated until now, projects that have led to the rediscovery of local, producing workshops. The touring exhibition, curated by Sophie Lovell and designed by Studio Makkink & Bey, was first presented in a reduced version as part of the program World Design Capital Helsinki 2012, and has now been augmented by exhibits that link it with the MAK Collection.

© MAK/Katrin Wißkirchen

The Passionswege have trained the interest of Austrian and foreign designers such as Thomás Alonso (ES), Mark Braun (DE), Marco Dessí (IT), Philippe Malouin (CA), Max Lamb (GB), mischer’traxler (AT), Charlotte Talbot (FR), and Daniel Posta (CZ) on the inestimable material knowledge and skill of both longstanding and new workshops and business, invigorating their innovative potential.

Phillipe Malouin with J. & L. Lobmeyr © kollektiv fischka

Many of the more traditional businesses that have exercised considerable influence over Viennese design culture, such as J. & L. Lobmeyr, Neue Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur Augarten [Vienna Porcelain Manufactory Augarten] and the Wiener Silber Manufactur [Vienna Silver Manufactory], are closely linked to the history of the MAK and documented extensively in its collection.

Steffen Kehrle with Jenner & Zopf instrument making© Katharina Gossow

The projects at issue here, which were set up as open processes, did not necessarily have to result in the development of an actual product; the provision of consulting services was also considered a result. This represents a significant distinction between the Passionswege and other initiatives for the stimulation of craftsmanship through design.

© MAK/Katrin Wißkirchen

The designers’ approach of applying their artistry to the search for potentials and opportunities of producing and/or retailing businesses led to surprising results and examples, such as the poetic city silhouettes that Maxim Velcovsky built out of glass and chandelier parts from the Lobmeyr archive, or the alchemical experimental design that mischer’traxler (Katharina Mischer, Thomas Traxler) set up in the display window of jewelers Rozet & Fischmeister on Kohlmarkt in the first district.

© MAK/Katrin Wißkirchen

Perceptions as well as accustomed varieties and uses are altered by the Tandem Guitar (which requires two players to be played) made by Steffen Kehrle in the luthiery workshop of Jenner & Zopf in Vienna’s second district.

Megumi Ito with Confiserie Altmann & Kühne© Katharina Gossow

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    • Valentina Ieva

      Architect

      Bari / Italy

      Laureata in Ingegneria edile-architettura, giornalista per professione, web writer per diletto. Amante di architettura, design, fotografia e libri di carta. Dipendente dai social, Instagram e InstaStories su tutti. Affamata di vita, viaggi e storie da scoprire. Qualunque forma d'arte mi affascina da sempre e non posso pensare una vita senza: emozioni forti, immaginazione, buona musica, cucina pugliese, sole e gatti. Per dirla con le parole di Battiato, non potrei vivere senza: ‘un soffio al cuore di natura elettrica’!)