Object of desire Several of Austria's most venerable and traditional luxury goods makers are exploring ways of harnessing their huge depth of knowledge and the skills of their craftsmen.
Another great discovery in Vienna... As I wrote in last week's column about Vienna Design Week, several of Austria's most venerable and traditional luxury goods makers are exploring ways of harnessing their huge depth of knowledge and the skills of their craftsmen to create modern pieces - often with exceptional results. Augarten, Europe's second-oldest porcelain manufactory - established in the city in 1718, more than a century before the founding of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - is one such company. Last year it commissioned the young Italian-born, Vienna-based Marco Dessi to design a collection that explores the porcelain-making process in a 21st-century way. This small collection of vases, in a limited edition of 10 of each piece, is one of the results.
Where it is finished in white, the porcelain has such purity and delicacy that it seems to glow with an inner light (no wonder it was known as "white gold" in the 18th century) yet the whiteness is so strong that it holds its own against the strong midnight blue and sunflower yellow of the glazes. The form is at once contemporary and timeless - is that an echo of the 1920s or '40s we see? Or is it absolutely new? Likewise, the hand-painted pattern: the effect seems to have a distant echo of the great early 20th-century Austrian architect and designer Josef Hoffmann's signature style. In fact it is the Augarten logo, normally less than a centimetre square and hidden under the base of a piece, overscaled to take pride of place on the surface of the vases.
It's a very clever adaptation of the already-familiar to create something absolutely new. * Sandra Lane Limited-edition vases by Marco Dessi for Augarten - smaller, ?777 (Dh4,243); larger, ?888 from Augarten, Stock-im-Eisen-Platz 3, Vienna; +43 1 211 24 200