Review: 2021

SPECIAL 2021

VIENNA DESIGN WEEK/Kollektiv Fischka/Kramar

“Alongside its many other functions, the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK sees itself as a space for experimentation with a ceiling that is built to be broken through. This applies in particular to the format Special, in which there is a cherished custom that unusual things occur.” These were the programmatic guidelines that, once again, were followed by the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK in 2021 as it sought to illustrate the many ways in which design can be special.

Special is, for example, about everyday life or, at least, when this is examined through the lens of DESIGN EVERYDAY. The annual exhibition, which was conceived and curated by Vandasye on behalf of the festival, brought together the innovative potential of the Austrian design scene for the fifth time. With exhibits such as prosthetic arms and feet, mini mealworm farms, and other kitchen utensils, the collective show (list below) demonstrated how design criteria such as function, aesthetic, haptic, and sustainability have to be constantly readdressed and optimized if they are to remain up-to-date. This year however, it wasn’t only our awareness of the who’s who of Austrian product design that was sharpened – because knives were sharpened too: For the first time, a piece of DESIGN EVERYDAY could be acquired by everyone in the shape of a strictly limited edition penknife.

Collectible design from Austria was also on show in 2021 in the exhibition POST-APOCALYPTIC KAFFEEHAUS, which – just like the festival team – travelled at the end of the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK straight to the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. Both here and there, the poetic, radical, humorous, and conceptual interventions (list below) invited visitors to imagine what remains of our everyday rituals when the world around us changes. The aluminum meringue, cast concrete cactus, ceramic coffee house, and all the other pieces in the special collection curated by Gabriel Roland are available at adorno.dk following their presentation at the festival.

Special, however, isn’t just everything that happens in an imaginary setting such as a post-apocalyptic coffee house. Special can also happen in concrete locations: Such as when design employs architectural gestures to lay bare the dark history of the Northwest Station and make this impressively tangible (Tracing Spaces). Or when design tests the barriers between itself and art or shares the work – from a child’s drawing to execution – with computer programs (Leo Mühlfeld). And, finally, Special also enters the virtual realm and researches how we present ourselves in videoconferences (CIVA). This – and more – was the format Special at the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK 2021.

DESIGN EVERYDAY 2021 with projects by: ANTE UP, Antenna Design, Anton Defant, aws designteam, Christian Steiner, EOOS, Georg Leditzky, GP designpartners, INSEQ DESIGN, KIM+HEEP, Klemens Schillinger, Katharina Unger, Martin Mostböck, Matthias Gürtner, Maria Kostyan, mischer’traxler studio, Natalie Pichler, Patrick Bauer, Philomena Strack, Sandra Holzer, Sebastian Leitinger, studiotut, Thomas Feichtner, studio högl borowski, studio Re.d, Walter Grill, and wr&co.

POST-APOCALYPTIC KAFFEEHAUS with works by: Onka Allmayer-Beck, Michael Anastassiades with J. & L. Lobmeyr, bonpart, KIM+HEEP, studio högl borowski, MADAME Architects, Anna Paul, Peter Sandbichler with LDDE, Katrina Schneider, studionero, and Daniel Stuhlpfarrer