How do you represent the essence of an entire city in a single design installation? Artists Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler answered this question by infusing a set of seemingly everyday objects with Vienna's visual patterns. The shoes, pillow, lampshade, and small storage boxes that make up their project "Patterns of Vienna" are one-of-a-kind. They draw most of their inspiration from the Art Nouveau motifs that are strewn across the capital.
“Thomas and I often go for a walk around the neighborhood to help us think. Sometimes we discover something in the process that inspires us.” Tiles of subway platforms designed by Otto Wagner and the fish-tail arrangement of Viennese apartment floors all found their way into Katharina and Thomas' studio. The two take the visual patterns they see in the street and reimagine them in their work. "Patterns of Vienna” pays special attention to a subtle but prolific period that shaped the city: the Jugendstil - Austria's Art Nouveau.
Jugendstil architecture is all over Vienna. The gilded dome that tops the Secession building looks like a Klimt painting. Katharina and Thomas took its textured pattern and lit it from within: As a lampshade, the mosaic of tiny flowers shines like the real thing. To make the piece, Katharina first draws the dome’s pattern by hand on yellow ochre fabric. This is delicate work. Carving out the individual shapes takes so much precision that for the final product she has to use a laser cutter. Once Katharina assembles the lamp, the slices of material are so thin they feel like lace.
Another pattern the two designers used is older, but no less recognizable: the roof tiles of St Stephan’s Cathedral. Their color and arrangement make them a popular photo motif and served as a model for a decorative pillow.
Katharina and Thomas make their designs by hand wherever possible. They try to follow in Vienna’s long tradition of handcrafts. Countless sculptures, symbols, building emblems and street signs are evidence of this legacy and their artistic details tell a history that you easily miss. Everyday objects are the perfect canvas for these every day patterns.