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Naturphilia: Balancing Artificiality and Nature

Sep 29, 2020

“Gritty, wild stuff”, is how Schloss Hollenegg for Design and mischer’traxler studio describe the presented investigations of the role of design and its relationship with our natural environment in their exhibition during this year’s Vienna Design Week.

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Images Courtesy Of: c_kollektiv fischka / Vienna Design Week / Philipp Podesser / mischer'traxler studio

Each autumn, Vienna Design Week transforms Vienna for ten days — proving it to be, in their eyes, a “City Full of Design”. Continuing it’s critical and open-ended focus on digital literacy and environments from the past two years (2018’s theme being Virtual & Augmented Reality and 2019’s focus being Game Design), this year’s additional digital presence feels more like a fully rounded decision rather than an emergency solution. Surrounding the fair both on- and offline, there are multiple portals into their virtual world: one in which design tools are just as urgently needed as they are in our tangible reality.

Another focus of the fair that is hard to miss is their highlighting of circular economies and ways of making, as well as the role of (technological) design in its relation to the natural environment.  One of the shows that focuses on the latter is Schloss Hollenegg for Design and mischer’traxler studio’s exhibition ‘Naturphilia’. An extension of Shloss Hollenegg’s exhibition “Walden” (which we covered back in May), the works on show strive to find a balance between the natural and the artificial; the middle ground between what is deemed technological and ecological.

The designers that are presented within this humble exhibition approach design in a holistic way. Nature, and designs role in it, is decidedly not romanticised, censored or domesticated. Whether through a series of cleaning rings (by Studio B Severin), an ornate vine-filled mural wallpaper (by Charlap Hyman & Herrero), a monumental “dry” toilet (by Arvid & Marie) or small furniture pieces illustrating the amount of metal hidden in specific raw stones (mischer’traxler studio) — the final result is a space that embraces the rough, wild and unexpected, and finds the value in these forms. Ultimately, the aim of the exhibition is to examine and challenge the relationship between humans and nature, with the hope that our perceptions of both will change.

Naturphilia is on view at Fotostudio (Vivenotgasse 30 / 1 / 4,1120 Vienna) until October 4th, 2020 from 11am–8pm and by appointment via Shloss Hollenegg for Design (design@schlosshollenegg.at). The exhibition features projects by mischer’traxler studio, Charlap Hyman & Herrero, Marlène Huissoud, Klemens Schillinger, Arvid&Marie, Jonas Edvard, Odd Matter, studiotut, studio b severin, Sander Wassink and Evalie Wagner.

Cover Photo: “Bucket Spilling the Sky” Lamp by Sander Wassink.

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Exhibition view 'Naturphilia'
“Off-grid” Lamp by Klemens Schillinger
entomarium extinct by mischer'traxler studio. Photo: Leonard Hilzensauer
Exhibition view 'Naturphilia'
Mycelium Chair by Jonas Edvard
Dry Toilet by Arvid&Marie
Ratio by mischer'traxler studio
Exhibition detail 'Naturphilia'

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For TLmag39: The Culture of the Object, Adrian Madlener wrote about Alice Stori Liechtenstein’s curatorial vision for Schloss Hollenegg, the 12th century castle that she shares with her family in the Southern Austrian countryside, and which features an annual design exhibition and residency program. In 2023, she presented an exhibition on glass titled, “Ashes + Sand”. On May 4th, 2024, they will open “Wood Land”, an exhibition that will focus on the forest and its primary resource, wood.