Review: 2020

SPECIAL

OK, we have to admit that, these days, the definition of what is still ‘special’ is open to discussion. But in the context of a vigilantly curated design festival, which has always seen itself as duty-bound to root out and reveal the latest tendencies and burning issues, one could continue to define the term as follows: Special means thinking about design in a new way. In this case – in our format Special – the focus is on people, products, and approaches. And achieving something special is also the objective of the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK team in their roles as communicators, ambassadors, event organizers, supporters, educators, and advisors, who are working to enhance international awareness of design. 

In 2020, the ‘Special’ format presented a mixture of noteworthy cooperative approaches, unique interventions, and special projects: While the exhibition DESIGN EVERYDAY in the Festival Headquarters once again brought together outstanding examples of contemporary Austrian product design, the AA nanotourism Visiting School worked in the Focus District Meidling on the much-discussed idea of local tourism in the time of COVID-19. In turn, the exhibition of the Distributed Design Platform addressed design as a tool of democratic empowerment with the help of the suddenly ubiquitous face shields. The contribution from Felix Lenz literally moved at another level. He shed light on the alarming relationship between politics, climate change, and war in the form of an installation that was quite impossible to ignore. And such questions as why and how design festivals make programs like this possible and how this range of content can be democratized even further were researched by Rosa Rogina, in her role as the festival’s Curator in Residence. Another visitor from the United Kingdom was the London-based designer and researcher Helga Schmid, whose exhibition questioned our very understanding of time. Take your time!