The real design world in Austria is at the same time an unreal world, overlaid with historical images and fuzzy definitions. The majority of people would connect the splendid period of the turn of the 19th/20th centuries with design in and from Austria, but this perception has little or nothing to do with the present design world in Austria.
The few things it still has in common with this period should not be underestimated, because Austria finds itself once again at the center of design activity and involved in a lively exchange of ideas with its eastern neighbors. Communication and healthy competition are enlivening the scene in all directions, and have given Vienna a new vitality, after the city had almost suffocated from its addiction to preserving and conserving its beauty. Joining the European Union 13 years ago opened the first doors and broadened horizons. Today’s young Austrian designers are very consciously choosing to be based in Vienna or Austria, but are of course also active throughout Europe and further afield.
The few things that can be compared with the turn of the century include the fact that Vienna is again positioning itself as the center for elaborate and technically‑manufactured luxury products, while the industrial reality of Austria has little to do with this glorified memory. Both production and design in the industrial and consumer goods sector – whether fire engines, compost‑turning machines, drones, welding robots, motorcycles or sports and leisure‑time products – have often gained a position at the top international rung, together with equally successful industrial design bureaus.