05 January, 2006

The Wiener Werkstätte?

I had occasion this morning to recall a fond memory. On the plane coming back from Fairfax, Virginia (where my wife and I were staying for Christmas / New Year with her parents, a (mostly) fine time was had by all) I was reading Peter Blake's The Master Builders, which I'd just picked up in a cheap second-hand store. Despite being highly rated, incidentally, the book is a little too hagiographical for my taste—by p. 100, I was sick of hearing just how brilliant Le Corbusier (referred to, irritatingly, as "Corbu") really was. Anyway, Blake mentions (p. 7) "a highly sophisticated offspring of the Art Nouveau movement", the Wiener Werkstätte. The name struck a chord in me, and given my total unfamiliarity and lack of interest in design, avant-garde or otherwise, this was somewhat surprising. It soon occurred to me (wrongly, as I have since found out) that the Wiener Werkstätte were the hosts of a party I crashed with my good friend Dan in New York, around September 20, 2003. It was an odd event: we stumbled rather randomly into a lighted doorway somewhere near Times Square, only to find ourselves hobnobbing with societyfolk done up in Armani and fur, being served rather bad wheat-beer, champagne and chi-chi nibbles, and listening to a string-quartet between über-slick presentations by an Austrian design company, hawking its wares, kitsch and laughably dear, to begabbling Big Apple socialites. When we left we were given goody-bags with promotional material and . . . I don't remember: candy?

According to Wikipedia, the Wiener Werkstätte closed in 1932. So I was wrong to make the connection. But no amount of Googling has revealed to me which design-company we beheld in their rhetorical glory. Perhaps it was, in fact, the old WW, in ghost form, reliving a promotion of 80 years ago; perhaps if my friend and I return to the site we'll find nothing but a heap of rubble. The mystery continues. . .

1 comment:

Shawn Thuris said...

You were right the first time...sort of: www.neuewienerwerkstaette.at

It isn't exactly the WW. The Jodlbauer firm (I am not making up this name, evocative of singing elvish craftsmen) bought the rights to the name, then merged with a respected upholstered furniture maker. The important part is that you did not imagine yourself part of a soiree for high-priced furniture going under this name!