METROPOLE - Vienna in English - - EDITOR’S LETTER - Mar­garet Childs

Art and de­sign are at the cen­ter of a se­man­tic bat­tle. De­sign can serve the pur­pose of mak­ing things at­trac­tive, easy to use, evoca­tive, or sim­ply func­tional. But un­like fine art, with de­sign, there’s a mis­sion, a prob­lem to be solved. Some in the fine art com­mu­nity look down on de­sign as a lesser form of ex­pres­sion; not free enough to be real art.

His­tor­i­cally speak­ing this is ab­surd. There has been plenty of mean­ing­ful art cre­ated on com­mis­sion, from Michelan­gelo’s Sis­tine Chapel ceil­ing to Pi­casso’s Guer­nica to Keith Har­ing’s mu­ral Crack is Wack. For most of hu­man his­tory, artists were crafts­men, re­al­iz­ers of the vi­sions of their pa­trons.

Let’s test this in the cre­ative world of to­day: Do you know the name of the guy who de­signed the first iphone? Nei­ther do I, but I know who Steve Jobs is.

In Vi­enna, de­sign is tied into the city’s artis­tic iden­tity. Whether in the Ju­gend­stil build­ings by Otto Wag­ner (Cover Story p18), the Thonet chair you see on our cover (see com­pe­ti­tion below), the de­tails on Otto Neu­rath (Quotes, Stats & Num­bers p16) or in the in­tri­cate stitches on a dress by Su­sanne Bisovsky (Pro­files p28), the city hon­ors its de­signer sons and daugh­ters. With the pop­u­lar­ity of the con­tem­po­rary art scene on a steady rise (On Dis­play p52), Septem­ber in Vi­enna has be­come cen­tered around de­sign and cre­ative cul­ture (City Life p44).

If you’re look­ing to en­hance your home decor with some Aus­trian de­sign pieces, we’ve com­piled a few ideas for you in our How To (p32). We also spoke to Christoph Thun-ho­hen­stein about the cur­rent Neo-bie­der­meier age and how to de­sign dig­i­tal hu­man­ism (Me­lange p15) and vis­ited the Aus­trian de­sign com­pany Wideshot, which has cre­ated some out-of-this-world work for Hol­ly­wood (Busi­ness p34).

Our On the Town pages (pp50-75) are packed with art, the­ater, com­edy, film and mu­sic to keep you busy for sev­eral Septem­bers. Dis­cover Vi­enna’s best shops (Lo­cal Finds p69) and our Events cal­en­dar (p86), cu­rated es­pe­cially for non-ger­man speak­ers.

Form doesn’t al­ways fol­low func­tion, but when it does it’s es­pe­cially sat­is­fy­ing. Let’s be thank­ful for good de­sign­ers, ap­pre­ci­ate them and when you have the plea­sure of meet­ing one in the flesh, re­mem­ber,

don’t be a stranger,

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