Although as a general rule we don’t want to think about Vienna Design Week during Milan Design Week – as it means thinking beyond the summer, and that before we’ve really felt the warmth of the sun on our milk white skin – the touring exhibition Werkstadt Vienna showing at Ventura Lambrate is a delightful exception.
Because it brought back so many memories and ultimately reminded us just why we put ourselves through this.
Curated by Sophie Lovell and featuring an exhibition design by Studio Makkink & Bey, Werkstadt Vienna presents a selection of Vienna Design Week Passionswege projects from the past half dozen years or so.
For all new readers, Passionswege is an event within Vienna Design Week which pairs young designers with long established, traditional Viennese manufacturers/craft workshops to develop a new project.
The designer gets the chance to experiment and work with new materials, the company gets an injection of new ideas, new ways of looking at the company, its traditions and processes. And when all works as planned it is a genuine win-win situation.
Ideally we’d like to call Werkstadt Vienna a Greatest Hits; but for that too many truly excellent projects are missing.
However as an “Abridged Greatest Hits” Werkstadt Vienna provides a brief insight into just why Passionswege is one of the best design festival events anywhere. And by extrapolation why Vienna Design Week is always such a joy.
And as we say, for us it was just one memory after the other. If not all especially good or proud.
When for example we saw Charlotte Talbot’s Landscape series for and with Wiener Silber Manufactur we were reminded of the horrifically incompetent way we attempted to, and ultimately failed to, organise a “Making Off” report with Charlotte. Or standing in front of the results of LucidiPevere’s collaboration with Woka Lamps we saw once again how in our tired, hungry fatigue we got all stroppy because the exhibition was being presented at two locations. And stubbornly refused to visit the second. Something we obviously regretted an hour or two later. But by then it was too late.
And no, we’re not proud of such moments
But then there are also those memories that make this all truly worthwhile. The hour we and the official Vienna Design Week photographer spent “competing” with one another to get at least one usable shot in J & L Lobmeyr’s mirrored vitrines of someone looking at Mark Braun’s Fortune water carafes. We didn’t. If we remember correctly, he did. Or running half drunk through Hernals to get to Julia Landsiedl at Erwin Perzy’s Original Schneekugeln. Before returning, euphoric, to Herr Gruber and his far too welcoming bar.
As Ken Dodd would no doubt say “I’ve got no silver and I’ve got no gold. But I’ve got happiness in my soul”
For all who haven’t seen the projects “in situ” in Vienna, and haven’t, for example, smelt the grease in Petz Hornmanufaktur or spent twenty minutes eaves dropping on conversations in Karl Sterkl Fleischwaren, it will be hard to fully place the projects in context and so to truly understand the magic of Passionswege.
However the information boards provide a good introduction, and ultimately all objects on display are strong enough in their own right to exist and be enjoyed outwith the Passionswege context. A fact that is especially true of Daphna Laurens furniture for Wittmann Möbelwerkstätten. Objects that still look as fresh and exciting as when we first saw them.
For all who feel inspired by the exhibition, we can thoroughly recommend Vienna Design Week. Late summer on the Danube is a truly wonderful thing.
And for all who can’t make it, we’ll be bringing you the highlights of Passionswege 2013 in October.
To be honest. We can’t wait.
Werkstadt Vienna can be viewed at Via Privata Oslavia 17, 20134 Milan until Sunday April 14th 2013.
And Vienna Design Week runs from 27th September until 6th October 2013.