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Design today is about much more than just forming shapes. It is not only objects and products which are created, but also services, processes and systems. Austria's design scene is multi-faceted, interdisciplinary, full of suspense, underestimated. It stands for a forward-looking preservation of culture and for the challenging fusion of tradition and innovation.


Tradition and Innovation

The history of Austrian design is characterized in many ways by balancing dichotomies in a tension relationship:  

  • Tradition and Innovation:
    Tradition and innovation are normally considered to be polar opposites; in Austrian design they are tightly interwoven. 
  • Industrial mass products and handcrafted luxury goods:
    From the Vienna workshops (Wiener Werkstätte) through to the present day, the characteristic craftsmanship remains. 
  • Artistic direction and services:
    Many prominent design styles arise from individual artistic inputs.

Sectors and Structure

The term 'design' is today applied to the whole process of developing the form and function of goods and services. There is considerable cross-over with other creative industries, most notably the advertising and PR industry and the multimedia sector. There are hardly any design offices anymore which distinguish upon classical sector lines, the norm is diverse offers and cross-overs between:

  • Product and Industrial design
  • Graphic and Communication design 
  • Interior and Exterior design 
  • Fashion and Textile design 
  • Digital and Media design
  • Service design

The design scene in Austria is dominated by small enterprises and freelancers. The comparatively large agencies are to be found in the areas of product and industrial design. More than two thirds of Austrian designers have interdisciplinary skills and cross over between sectors.

Companies offering design services are normally situated in close proximity to industry. Austria's economic hotspots are mostly located in large cities and the surrounding areas.

Product and Industrial Design

There has been a boom in business start-ups in Austria in recent years. According to a study from the Austrian Design Foundation, 41% of the companies in the Austrian product and industrial design industry were founded between 1996 and 2002.

Vienna is the traditional centre of artistic design. A professional scene for industrial design has developed in the west of Austria and in the Graz area in recent years.

Establihed agencies for product and industrial design include:

Young Industrial Design representatives include:

Many of the new and young design agencies offer graphic, media and communication design in addition to product design. Representative agencies include:

Production & Distribution

The Austrian market for industrial design is extremely limited. Therefore Austrian product and industrial designers commonly work on the international market. This has led to a variety of long-established Austrian companies who use design as a competitiveness factor.

A selection of leading companies:

Graphics and Communications Design

More than half of the Austrian designers work in the graphic design sector, of these many are qualified artists. An exclusive focus on pure graphic design services is now almost only found with freelancers and sole traders. The wide-ranging service offers include new services such as communication design and corporate design. this has meant increasingly close toes between graphic design professionals and those from other creative industries such as music, literature, avertising, art and media

Representative companies from the wide range of professional offices and agencies include:

• Print graphics

• Communication design

Interior and Exterior Design

In Austria a new design scene is springing up in the traditional furniture and consumer goods industry. Examples include:

Some pioneers of the new Austrian design scene have made an international career from an Austrian base, such as:

Others have successfully relocated abroad, such as:

Production & Distribution

Austria is home to a range of companies with a rich history, who have won acclaim for their artistic bias. Companies such as :

represent the fusion of tradition and innovation.

There are many young companies who have established themselves in niche markets through cooperation with designers.

Examples include:

Vienna hosts a highly individual example of Austrian furniture design retailing - das möbel (in German) , its focus is young, non-established interior design and innovative furniture.

The platform PureAustrianDesign has had considerable success in presenting Austrian design in a new way for international markets.

Textile and Fashion Design

Accounting for just 3% of all Austrian design companies, fashion and textile design is the smallest sector, of which around half of the businesses are sole traders. Despite this, there has been a stark increase in the profile of Austrian labels in recent years. The fashion platform "Unit F büro für mode" has achieved a lot for the international recognition and professional respect for the Austrian fashion scene.

The growth potential is correspondingly high. Two thirds of successful Austrian labels have been founded since 2000. The largest growth rates have been seen in the pret-à-Porter segment, these are companies who design and mass-produce at least two collections per year.

The high standards and creative potential of Austrian fashion designers exemplify different styles. These include:

  • Internationally established designer labels:
    Edwina Hörl, Hartmann Nordenholz, Petar Petrov, Ute Ploier, Wendy & Jim
  • Avant garde/Conceptional:
    Eva Blut, Fabrics Interseason, flor de illusion
  • Classical:
    Edith A’Gay, Claudia Brandmair, Elfenkleid, Shella Kann, Michél Mayer, Claudia Rosa Lukas
  • Up and Coming:
    Anna Aichinger, Awareness & Consciousness, House Of The Very Island’s Royal Club Division Middlesex Klassenkampf But The Question Is Where Are You, Now?, Wilfried Mayer, Eric Rainer
  • Jewellery and Accessories:
    Sonja Bischur, Büro Baumann, Petra Galogaza, Florian Ladstätter, Melanie Haarhaus, Rosa Mosa

National fashion designers are highly export-oriented. Europe is the main target market, followed by Japan. Exports are normally sold via agencies or showrooms, and trade fairs are also a key channel in Europe.

Sample collections are produced in-house. Serial production is normally contracted out, preferably to local clothing manufacturers. Production sites in Estern Europe are increasingly gaining importance.

Among Austrian fashion producers, there are a large number of traditional companies who are synonymous with top quality workmanship and craftsmanship. Some of them consistently invest in innovative partner projects with designers.
Examples include:

Traditional dress - Tracht - plays a unique role. Cooperation initiatives between the Austrian 'Tracht' industry and the fashion industry give a new creative slant on traditional clothing.

A modern, cosmopolitan 'Austrian Look' is created by companies such as:

Austria is home to textile industry with a long tradition, which has now mostly moved to western Austria, with Vorarlberg as its centre. A thirst for innovation, along with a well-established network with national designers, are characteristic of the Austrian textile industry.

Examples include:

A special feature is Austrian embroidery - Vorarlberger Stickereiwirtschaft . Austria is the world's fourth largest embroidery producer and a leader in design and technology innovation.

Representation and Discourse

Platforms and Representatives

The most important platforms, institutions and representative bodies include the following:

Institutes for Design Appreciation

Festivals and Events