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Raw and Delicate

Austria as a design nation – tradition meets innovation

The compatibility of everyday life with traditional ways of living, the rugged and impressive scenery, the cultural highlights in the urban centres, the young and ambitious up-and-coming talent, the internationally recognised greats of Austrian design and Austria’s innovative furniture and product trends paired with the long history of expert craftsmanship handed down over multiple generations – these served as the starting points for the development of the ‘Raw and Delicate’ concept, which is now associated with the Austrian Furniture Industry. The designer Georg OEhler was one of the pioneers behind this idea.

At least since the 2008 publication of the ‘Global Design Watch’ study by DESIGNIUM, the New Centre of Innovation in Design at the University of Art and Design Helsinki (UIAH), Austria’s status as a design nation has been clear, as has its leading position in international comparisons regarding competitiveness, its economic and employment situation, training opportunities, technological performance and its policy on subsidies. Austria did not achieve its status as a design nation overnight. Long before ‘design’ was considered an entity of its own, there were designers active in Austria who were creating a stir with their work. Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser – who would today be referred to as star designers – founded the Wiener Werkstätte (‘Viennese Workshops’) in 1903 together with the industrialist Fritz Wärndorfer with the aim of renewing the concept of art on the basis of arts and crafts. Furniture, everyday objects, textiles, ceramics and jewellery were produced in a number of independent studios. As the innovative spirit of the Wiener Werkstätte took hold at the start of the 20th century, more and more Viennese family businesses such as Augarten, Backhausen, Lobmeyr and Wittmann became interested in the work of the Viennese Workshops and developed their own product lines. The history of Austrian design starts with their commitment, their vision for the future and their decision to cooperate with artists and architect.

Brief profile of Georg OEhler:
Georg lives and works in London and his work includes interiors, furniture, lighting design and exhibition concepts. He has his own studio and also holds the position of creative director at the global company MK Illumination. His design work revolves around storytelling and conceptual work. From furniture to interiors, stories act as a guiding thread and concepts create a smooth transition to branding and brand development. The use of natural materials and a deep appreciation of traditional artisan skills are clearly recognisable in all his work. His interiors combine subtle luxury and nonchalance.