It was a very different world 12 years ago when Vienna Design Week was first conceived. The Western world was prospering and Europe carried with it the confidence of an affluent democratic continent in the new millennium, whilst today in many ways societies seem to be going backwards and our moral and physical existence are constantly being challenged, not to mention the digitalisation of the future of human race. Design has helped to shape contemporary Vienna, but what is the role of Austrian creativity in reflecting and reacting to the world’s challenges and how it is to make impact? Curated by Lilli Hollein, the 12th edition of the Vienna Design Week views its task as seeing design not in isolation, but as a crucial component in how the future unfolds and how we see our part in it. Here are the unmissable highlights...

Guest country: Poland

In a dual celebration of its northeastern neighbour’s vibrant arts scene and, equally, the 100th anniversary of its restoration of state independence, Vienna Design Week is hosting Poland as its guest country this year. ‘The ABCs of Polish Design’ showcases the country’s modern-to-contemporary design icons, presenting its finest works across many disciplines, from furniture, glassware and porcelain to humble daily necessities. At the Polish Institute in Vienna, ‘Symbol to Logo’ is a visual history of the rarely publicised story of logo design in communist Poland and what it says about the changes that have taken place over the last seven decades. Photography copyright Maciej Blaźniak, Vienna Design Week

Festival Headquarters, Apollogasse 19; Am Gestade 7

Protest

The theme of this year’s design week, ‘Protest’, can be seen in many parts of the programme. Protests, in their many guises, have long been an inspiration for designers as a means to highlight their vision to make a statement, the campaigning poster being a perennial favourite way to communicate a point a view. For design week, a selection of critical thinkers has created posters on subjects close to their heart, and the results will be displays at a show titled ‘STUDIO PROTEST’, curated by Erwin K. Bauer at the main exhibition of design week. At ‘Flags Of Utopia’, graphic designer Theresa Hattinger looks into the symbolism of flags and how it could be and should be interpreted to reflect and influence the status quo of our countries, social systems and models of coexistence.

Festival Headquarters, Apollogasse 19

Passionswege

Always a highlight, and core element of the annual event, Passionswege connects local and international creatives with the finest specialist craftsmanship in the country, reviewing and rejuvenating the century-old production processes with innovative design visions. Two from this year’s line-up – the German and Austrian visual art duo Markus Hanakam and Roswitha Schuller – transform a table setting from the glass manufactory J. & L. Lobmeyr into a party-like board game for visitors (render pictured). Meanwhile Polish duo Gosia and Tomek Rygalik of Studio Rygalik work with Vienna’s long-established silversmith Jarosinski & Vaugoin, channeling the maker’s design DNA to create designs for a new generation. Photography copyright Hanakam & Schuller, Vienna Design Week

Kärntner Strasse 26; Zieglergasse 24.

Virtual and augmented reality

An inevitable topic in design nowadays, the impact of virtual and augmented reality experience in design, will be viewed from different angles. In Emanuel Gollob’s multidisciplinary creation ‘Doing Nothing With AI – A Neuro Reactive Robotics Installation,’ the designer suggests idleness against the overloading of our senses by technology. He has formulated a physical space for inactivity and introspection with a variety of areas, from a default mode network in the human brain, to machine learning to robotic choreographies. Elsewhere in ‘Vr Reshape – Rearranging And Reshaping Existing Aesthetic Forms In A Virtual Room’ by local studio Lost In The Garden, visitors are invited to reimagine and remix the space according to their personal whims by transforming virtually the existing design elements into new shapes.

Festival Headquarters, Apollogasse 19; Am Gestade 7

Urban food and design

‘Beyond Taste – A Multi-sensorial Series Of Tableware’ a

As climate change continues to bring about more extreme weather, and an increasing global population puts a strain on the earth’s ability to feed itself, food is increasingly becoming not just a matter of pleasurable sustenance, but a hot political topic. In addition to the prospect of turning carnivores into insectivores, scientists are now also turning their attention to lichens as a possible future staple of our diet. In ‘Unseen Edible – Lichens As A Source Of Nutrition’, Julia Schwarz envisages a cuisine based on this fungal-like ingredient, and visitors will be invited to taste tests, in the form of lichen bread and lichen brandy while watching a movie. Eating is an interplay of all the senses, says Teresa Berger at ‘Beyond Taste – A Multi-sensorial Series Of Tableware’ and her sensory exhibition of gastrophysics invites us to abandon the digital world for the duration to look at new ways of creating food for the table (pictured).

Festival Headquarters, Apollogasse 19; §