"...bitt' schön, die Herren!"
"...bitt' schön, die Herren!", Zajc/Zündel

Design Encounters

The chairs from all different decades will soon be making their appearance once again, marking the event locations in this year’s festival colour of brilliant yellow.
Rudolf Zündel and Wolfgang Zajc have not only staged the signage photographically, as they have in the past years, but this year will be using it to tell much more history – of the various faces of design. A festival is a joyous occasion, design should be celebrated, and those who are constantly involved with it also want a chance to get a bit of fresh air and celebrate with everyone else. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of content and discussion. For the fourth time now, the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK will be showing the variety this discipline has to offer – in a form that is accessible to many and which enriches the broad perception of what design is.

Key Word ‘Participation’

Last year the designers from DANKLHAMPEL and Julia Landsiedel presented the subject of social design to their audience in the sheltered housing facility Haus Wieden in an incomparably powerful way. Design can simplify and improve our lives – it is just the definition of the word ‘we’ that sometimes leads to tunnel vision which blocks out a lot of people. This year at the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK, places where all sorts of people come together are dealt with, for example, by the artist collective from Italy esterni, who have attracted repeated attention through actions that invite participation.
The speed of technological advances has as a result that virtually everyone in our Western world owns a mobile phone, from primary school pupils to senior citizens of advanced years. But the demands, wishes, and operating options are different and that is where design steps in. ‘Special needs’ is a catchword when one is speaking about people whose physical mobility is limited. The early generations of wheelchairs made wheelchair users painfully aware of the limitations involved: the wheelchairs themselves were heavy and difficult to use, the users were in any case already constantly fighting against barriers of every sort and were additionally restricted in terms of their mode of transportation. There was also no difference made as to whether this was a young, strong, and athletic person sitting in the wheelchair or someone whose range of motion was limited for various reasons.

In Society’s Service

Mobility is in any case the subject of the hour. No Western city with any pride would fail to consider the possibilities of e-mobility. The VIENNA DESIGN WEEK has joined up with Vienna City Bike so people can use their leg and brain power to make their way around the festival.

Improving the operability and security – and additionally also the impression made – are important aspects when product design tackles machines for the household or industry. When large saws, welders, or farm machinery are better, simpler, and safer to use, then one’s (work)life is also better, simpler, and safer. This also offers a busy field of endeavour for universities and training institutions, as can be seen in the presentation of the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK Debuts, for example, where university students and young professionals have entered the competition for the James Dyson Award. The rules stipulate that the projects must not only be innovative, but also useful for society.

New Design Meets Traditional Production

This is less about security and ease of operation than about the design of everyday objects that tell us something about lands and customs – such as the well-loved ‘Achtelglas’, a wine glass holding an eighth of a litre, which represents a perfect design form created at a time when one didn’t need to attend a seminar in order to drink wine! So when an elegant traditional establishment takes on such an everyday classic and employs the best materials and sensitive subtleties of design, then the most successful outcome is understatement of the finest. For five years now the Passionswege have been dealing with the opportunity that lies in a respectful meeting between enterprising designers and especially capable manufacturing establishments. The knowledge often hidden in dormancy and the almost forgotten craftsmanship techniques combined with the designers’ frequently forward-looking approaches open new doors for both parties. The successful Austrian design office EOOS has always integrated the technique of cultural research into the design process. Equipped with a VIENNA DESIGN WEEK Carte Blanche, the Institute of Design Research Vienna, with which EOOS is associated, has chosen this year to address a diversity of research topics and approaches to the history of design, and thus also the history of everyday objects. And who couldn’t be interested in the things that surround us in our everyday life?