When I tell people about the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK, I often feel as if I’m telling them about a building: The festival is a large, inviting gateway to the subject of design and offers a platform, on which others can present themselves and their content. It has space for a wide range of design approaches and sectors and offers views into related disciplines. The festival architecture opens doors to questions about design that are ever-present but often elusive and makes these accessible to visitors – and it provides a roof for all those who are building the world of design, a shelter under which they can take a break from business as usual in order to reflect, get their bearings, and exchange ideas.

The way I see it, a festival must be a palace and a site hut, a forum, a tree house, a delicatessen, and an observatory, all at the same time.

Together with an excellent team, I’ve once again been given the task of throwing the gates, doors, and windows of the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK building wide open. Our advantage is that thanks to Vienna – a multifaceted metropolis in general and a City Full of Design in particular – and our extensive network of supporters, contributors, partners, and exhibitors we already have the perfect conditions for constructing such a diverse building. Some parts of the structure that we’ve erected this year may already seem cozily familiar. Elsewhere, we’ve found new ways in, dusted some things off, sharpened others, and given the festival a fresh appearance.

Constant change and flexibility may be unusual qualities for a building, but the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK remains a dynamic and lively one!

Our program partners are now bustling around on the festival PLATFORM, where our detailed spatial and temporal planning enables their contents to shine even more brightly. FOCUS is the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK’s new exhibition format: a curated group exhibition with an outstanding mise-en-scene. The Passionswege are back – with two very different projects in Mariahilf. Ums Eck promotes a dialogue with local companies that is designed to improve the public realm. And then we have our good old innovations: The Focus District, the Debut university, and the festival graphic design shape the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK in the usual very different way.

Social and ecological sustainability and digitalization continue to be core subjects of the festival. And we’re striving even harder for diversity.

We’re working with kültüř gemma! to ensure that the invitation to get involved in the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK is even more clearly and openly communicated. The education program, which again has several new features, is moving in a similar direction. And then of course there are the open calls that are developed with the festival throughout the year: This year’s Stadtarbeit addresses the social role of exchange beyond the realm of commercial interests while Urban Food & Design is taking the qualities that were experimentally developed last year and applying these directly to the food industry. And, once again, Design Everyday is taking its conscientious approach to showing us all that is good in product design.

The program of the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK is particularly complex and comprehensive this year – three Festival Headquarters! – and this has presented us with completely new curatorial, organizational, and financial challenges. Without the outstanding work of the team and the support of our funding bodies and sponsors this would be unimaginable – our warmest thanks!

I’m looking forward to enjoying a richly experiential and entertaining festival with all our visitors and participants. See you soon!

Gabriel Roland
Director of the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK