The exhibition “Werkstadt Vienna: Design Engaging the City”, curated by Sophie Lovell, showcases curated collaborations between designers and manufacturers in Vienna. Centuries of craft skills are mixed with new design thinking showing that design can be inspiring to everyone – producer and consumer alike. It is about the soft and hard values of design as a facilitator in bringing people together and enhancing the commercial and creative profile of a city at the same time.
“Werkstadt Vienna: Design Engaging the City” is about the rediscovery and revitalisation of local urban production workshops. In 2006 Neigungsgruppe Design (Tulga Beyerle, Thomas Geisler, Lilli Hollein) began a programme of pairing young, upcoming designers with traditional producers in the city of Vienna called Passionswege. The aim was to generate new dialogues between design and local manufacture, between the city and its makers and between material and technological expertise and experimental design attitudes. The Passionswege went on to become the foundation of the Vienna Design Week.
Amazing and inspiring projects arose from collaborations between designers such as Tomás Alonso (E), Mark Braun (D), Marco Dessi (I), Philippe Malouin (CAN), Max Lamb (GB), mischer-traxler (A), Adrien Rovero (CH) and Maxim Velcovsky (CZ) with traditional firms such as J.&L. Lobmeyr, the Viennese porcelain manufacturer Augarten and the Wiener Silber Manufactur. The results of the collaborations were then displayed in the shops and showrooms of the respective producers around the city and many pieces were to be taken into production or marked the beginning of enduring collaborations between designers and makers.
The initiators later invited the curator Sophie Lovell and designers Studio Makkink&Bey to explore the results of this collaborative experiment in a touring exhibition, and share the richness, variety and sustainability of such an experimental approach with other cities. The first two stops on the tour were: the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 in September 2012 and the MAK Vienna in December 2012., followed by Ventura Lambrate Milan in April 2013 and NAI Rotterdam June – September 2013.