The designers and artists in the Austrian avant-garde were obsessed with theories of social change and wrote manifestos about the processes to implement that change. Despite their manifestos often being very radical, they realised an impressive number of their projects.
Early on in his career, Hans Hollein designed a number of shops in downtown Vienna. The candle shop Retti has all the trademarks of the cities designed by Hollein at the time, albeit on a smaller scale. The mystery of the windowless aluminum facade, prominently featuring the air conditioners and lamps above the door, suggests a futuristic machine.
The floor plan is reminiscent of a church, emphasised by the cross shape of the space and the candles on display. The entrance is a tiny showroom, its smallness enlarged in width by two mirrors. The ‘blessed’ transaction takes place in the second room, in front of an altar of sorts.
The fashion boutique CM, entirely made of polyester, looks like an elegant mechanical apparatus with the air conditioning similarly integrated into the design.
In their design of everyday objects and environments, the designers referred to the modern cults of life, death, cosmos and religion, making even the most mundane designs expressions of their radical social vision
In what is also known as ‘the Inflatable Era’, inflatable architecture was manufactured as a prerequisite for a new, nomadic way of life. Space travel served as the inspiration for these capsules. However, are these high-tech hide-outs post-human or not?
“A little world in which the big one holds its tryouts”, is how guest curator and professor Bart Lootsma describes the development of Austrian avant-garde movements in the 20th century. In this lecture series, Lootsma places the so-called ‘Radical Austria’ of the 1960s in the context of the long Austrian tradition of art and design.
Visiting the exhibition, you will receive the accompanying catalog. It documents both the technical information of all exhibited works, as well as substantive texts to contextualize important makers and themes. You can find the digital version here.
Posthuman; once your eyes are opened to it you see it everywhere. But what is it? In this recurring series, curator Fredric Baas explains. In the first column, Baas focuses on the changing human body, something Austrian designers were already investigating in the 1960s.
The need for radical change manifested itself in post-war Austria in a series of megalomanic urban designs. These projects share an obsession with technology and infrastructure and a drive to create completely new ways of living together.
With his manifesto Alles ist Architektur Hans Hollein does away with the traditional definition of architecture: “Our efforts are focused on the environment as a whole and on all media that determine it. Both television, the artificial climate, transport, clothing, the telephone and the home.”
The performances of the Actionists increasingly sparked scandals attracting attention of both police and media. This culminated in 1968 in the happening Kunst und Revolution, arranged by the artist Peter Weibel as part of student protests and taking place in a prominent lecture hall of Vienna University.
Schöner Wohnen, or ‘the destruction of the habitable coffin’ is a film made by the architecture collective Salz der Erde in 1971, in which the ideal of the tasteful-bourgeois housing magazine of the same name is mercilessly undermined.
In the 1960s and 1970s, new media such as radio, telephone and TV changed the relationship between people and the environment. The impact on the human experience of the environment makes perception an important theme for many artists and designers during this period.
That cybernetics would radically influence the functioning of design, architecture and urban planning was understood in Austria at an early stage. Its consequences are speculated on in numerous projects.
Walter Pichler’s prototypes of furniture and appliances are perfectly executed and functional. By emphasizing certain effects of the use of everyday objects, these prototypes show their cold and disorientating impact.
The oil crisis and environmental issues have led to an international reconsideration of the technological fascinations of the avant-gardes of the 1960s. Haus-Rucker-Co, in particular, reflects in very large installations on the consequences of environmental pollution.