The “Melange,” a drink made of coffee and milk, is a Viennese invention; the coffeehouse produced new variants and saw to
the drink’s worldwide export. The typical newspaper holder is a relic of low-cost general education and access to the world—long
before television or the Internet. The coffeehouse table played host to the writing of literature, the composition of music
and the cutting of political and economic deals at a time when so-called “multifunctional furniture” did not yet exist. As
a place, the coffeehouse offers a home to both travelers and urban nomads. A coffeehouse’s interior and guests are indicative
of local fashions and styles—or they mix these as the global trends of tomorrow.
A work-in-progress exhibition will kick off the research project with a focus on various aspects of the Viennese coffeehouse. Julia Landsiedl www.jeplus.at, the 2011 MAK Designer in Residence, will make observations and conduct interviews around the coffeehouse scene, collecting examples from actual practice while sifting through the MAK collection in search of helpful clues. A cognitively produced and commented collage—a three-dimensional mind map consisting of historical and present-day ingredients, posters, photographs and objects concerning coffeehouse culture—will offer an initial screening of the topic and serve to delineate possible research questions and design tasks. It is to serve as an impulse and research kit for simultaneously held lab modules conceived by Gregor Eichinger by which it will in turn be complemented. It will also function as a starting point for further explorations of the MAK and the urban realm.
Research direction Gregor Eichinger
Project management Thomas Geisler, MAK Curator Design
MAK Designer-in-Residence 2011 Julia Landsiedl
"Coffeehouses are like pockets of the public sphere in which space and time are consumed-despite the fact that only coffee appears on the bill afterwards." (Gregor Eichinger)
THE COFFEEHOUSE OF THE FUTURE Under the guidance of architect and designer Gregor Eichinger as research director, The Great Viennese Café: a Laboratory is to provide new approaches to this special, specifically Viennese institution while both doing justice to the changing culture of urban life and testing an artistic and scholarly approach to design as a tool of applied research. The coffeehouse, an important point of cultural and social confluence within the urban sphere, is to be examined as to its developmental possibilities in the 21st century. As a place of transit between the private and the public, between leisure and work, and between communication, contemplation and opportunities for analog or digital encounters, it offers far greater potential than one might infer from its frequent reduction to consumption and nostalgia. Whether as a total work of art or as an open system: all of its components, from waiters to guests to water glasses, present opportunities for creativity.
This research project, which is divided into modules consisting of lectures, workshops and presentations of both research and works-in-progress, can be followed as a publicly accessible design laboratory at the MAK DESIGN SPACE. The workshops will see the development of approaches and ideas for the coffeehouse of the future. The project will culminate in the presentation of the Experimental Design at the MAK, a testable prototype incorporating the workshops’ most convincing inspirations.