‘It’s the Tuscany of Austria,’ quipped someone on our three-hour journey from Vienna to Schloss Hollenegg for Design. This was difficult to picture at first – but it all became apparent once the car pulled up to the 12th century castle, complete with a courtyard blanketed in wisteria and set against a dazzling alpine backdrop. Located in the Austrian market town of Schwanberg, the castle was once the holiday home of the Liechtenstein family.
The spellbinding venue is the unlikely location for ‘Morphosis’, an exhibition of emerging design talent curated by local exhibition designer and curator Alice Stori Liechtenstein. ‘The [theme] is about paying attention to how change happens,’ explains Liechtenstein. ‘Design can be a tool to make change happen. We are in changing times, happening fast and it’s quite fragile.’
This is the second year Liechtenstein has overseen the programme at Schloss Hollenegg, with the intent to bring design to the rural area. It is also the second time she has opened up an unused room of the castle to the designers-in-residence – this year Lex Pott and Stephanie Hornig – who each spent a week creating works inspired by the eclectic interiors of the castle.
Silver tableware, by Stephanie Hornig, for Jarosinski & Vaugoin. Photography: Federico Floriani
Pott’s ‘Tree of Life’ chandelier lit up the reading room, filled with family heirlooms, diaries, albums letters and portraits. Austria-born, London-based Hornig also played with light and reflection; her tableware brought a new sparkle to the sombre winter dining room. The collection was Hornig’s first ever works in silver, created in collaboration with Viennese silver manufacturer Jarosinski & Vaugoin.
In addition to the resident designers’ projects, Liechtenstein invited a further 19 designers to show new works that ‘explore one aspect of morphosis, or showing one passage of it, or two different types of elements’. Peppered across one of the most decadent baroque rooms of the house, Germans Ermičs’ sublime glass pieces complemented new benches by Os & Oos, Marcin Rusak’s experimental ‘Perishable’ series, and lighting by Sabine Marcelis.
‘It’s all about relationships, and how people come together,’ Liechtenstein mused, on inviting designers to show at the bucolic location (many attended the roaring opening, which included an Ibiza DJ spinning decks in the ballroom and goulash for the late-night partiers). ‘[The designers] notice things in my house I’ve seen but haven’t really noticed before, and that’s really special.’