The highlights and hidden gems from Vienna Design Week 2014

Works by Austrian-Polish design duo Chmara.Rosinke - finalists of the Prix Émile Hermès 2014
The eighth edition of Vienna Design Week offered visitors a creatively rich programme of events and exhibitions within the capital. Pictured here are works by Austrian-Polish design duo Chmara.Rosinke - finalists of the Prix Émile Hermès 2014 - hosted by Sotheby’s at the Palais Wilczek
(Image credit: press)

Design groupies seek to make sense of all those design festivals (and justify all that travel) by finding originality in each city and its creative community. They might see Vienna Design Week as being large enough to lure a heavyweight roster yet still small enough to offer an authentic, local feel.

The eighth edition (opens in new tab) of the design fair - together with Viennafair (opens in new tab) and the Parallel art fair (opens in new tab) - ended last Sunday, after offering Austrians and their neighbours, who made up most of the visitors, a creatively rich week in the capital. True to its reputation, it mixed up the calendar with showings by newcomers and veterans, national to international, and with passions ranging from heritage to contemporary, from everyday design to collectable art.

Curated by Lilli Hollein, director of Vienna Design Week, the Passionswege (Paths of Passion) exhibition at the heart of the festival showcased contemporary innovations with traditional craftsmanship. This year's event saw Wiener Silber Manufactur (Vienna Silver Factory) and BIG-GAME, a Swiss design trio, create the Hammer lamp, the historic silversmith's first lighting design. Boaz Cohen and Sayaka Yamamoto of Dutch collective BCXSY created J(oy) & L(ove) wine tumblers for J&L Lobmeyr, a glassworks with a workshop in central Vienna. It was inspiring to see one craftsman work on a contemporary concept while another recreate an 18th-century chandelier for the Liechtenstein City Palace.

Sotheby's hosted Austrian-Polish design duo Chmara.Rosinke, who displayed works in a private space at the Palais Wilczek. Viennese gallery Design & Art showcased a new collection by local ceramic artist Matthias Kaiser, which explored shifts in form by replacing conventional materials with plastic - and vice versa. Design practice Dottings solicited creative input from its local peers, including mischer´traxler (opens in new tab), Vandasye and Madeleine Plass. Together, they worked with people with physical disabilities or mental illness to develop charming household objects.

Elsewhere, the festival used design as a means to explore the city's culture and traditions. Lucy.D (opens in new tab) curated a delicious collection of contemporary cakes for Café Landtmann (opens in new tab), a popular meeting place in the first district opposite the Burgtheater and patronised by leading politicians, thinkers and artists for more than a century. The outrageous assortment of cakes and pastries could be customised to personal tastes. In the third district, at the back of Parfumerie Leni, the alternative art space SWDZ presented Ritual Beauty, featuring 'The Alchemist's Dressing Table' by British designer Lauren Davies and a series of experimental hand mirrors by Viennese designer Andreas Pohancenik.

We unearthed two hidden gems at the festival headquarters, located at the monumental Palais Schwarzenberg (opens in new tab). The palace's legendary - but neglected - restaurant rooms by Austrian architect Hermann Czech were reopened to the public before the complex is ultimately remodelled. Also at Schwarzenberg was Soundweaving, a project initiated by Budapest's Monoly-Nagy University of Art and Design. Participants transformed the traditional motifs of cross-stitch embroidery into melodies by transposing them through a music automat with punch cards.

Our final stop was an unexpected highlight. Supersense, the new concept store by Florian Kaps, founder of The Impossible Project (opens in new tab), exhibited a story of modern innovation in analogue Vienna. Kaps is working with the Norwegian olfactory icon Sissel Tolaas to offer clients bespoke scent memories, which he plans to launch at the store in November. That alone is a good reason to return to the city before next year's fair.

Soundweaving' - an interdisciplinary project by students of the Monoly-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest

Captured here is 'Soundweaving' - an interdisciplinary project by students of the Monoly-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, where traditional Hungarian cross-stitch motifs were transformed into melodies.

(Image credit: Yoko Choy)

Exhibited works included a timber daybed designed by Chmara.Rosinke for Hermès

Exhibited works included a timber daybed designed by  for Hermès

(Image credit: Chmara.Rosinke)

The highlights and hidden gems from Vienna Design Week 2014

At Vienna's Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), the new MAK Design Labor (Laboratory) opened to the public. Encompassing nine subject areas including cooking, communicating and transportation, the exhibition sets out to showcase functional objects that bridge the gap between art and everyday life. 

(Image credit: Yoko Choy)

Austrian studio Eoos were responsible for the new MAK Design Labor's design and layout.

Austrian studio Eoos were responsible for the new MAK Design Labor's design and layout.

(Image credit: Yoko Choy)

A new collection of works by local ceramic artist Matthias Kaiser.

Vienna's Galerie Design & Art showcased a new collection of works by local ceramic artist Matthias Kaiser. 

(Image credit: Yoko Choy)

Matthias Kaiser’s works explore the contrast in forms made in both ceramic and plastic

Matthias Kaiser’s works explore the contrast in forms made in both ceramic and plastic.

(Image credit: Yoko Choy)

'The Alchemist's Dressing Table' and Viennese designer Andreas Pohancenik’s experimental series of hand mirrors. 

In the back room of the Parfumerie Leni, an exhibtion called 'Ritual Beauty' featured British designer Lauren Davies’s 'The Alchemist's Dressing Table' and Viennese designer Andreas Pohancenik’s experimental series of hand mirrors. 

(Image credit: Yoko Choy)

Restaurant room in the basement of Vienna's Palais Schwarzenberg

The legendary but long-neglected 1984 restaurant rooms in the basement of Vienna's Palais Schwarzenberg were reopened during Design Week as a tribute to their respected Austrian architect Hermann Czech

(Image credit: press)

Featuring interventions by Austrian artist Heinz Frank and Herman Czech

Featuring interventions by Austrian artist Heinz Frank as well as Herman Czech himself, the temporary reopening comes before the complex is remodelled into a casino

(Image credit: press)

A pop-up cafe

A pop-up cafe was set up at the festival's headquarters in the opulent Baroque surroundings of Palais Schwarzenberg

(Image credit: press)

A delicious, contemporary collection of cakes for Vienna's Café Landtmann

Local design studio Lucy.D curated a delicious, contemporary collection of cakes for Vienna's Café Landtmann.

(Image credit: Yoko Choy)