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Searching for quintessential souvenirs for the 21st century —The European Home Run Design Competition


“Vienna Playing Cards” by Studio Formafantasma 
Unexpected designs such as a bentwood chair by Thonet and architecture by Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffman of Vienna Studio.

Souvenirs from Vienna are quite typical, such as coasters adorned with Klimt paintings, and attempts to produce something new have failed to stress the creative point of view. In order to remedy the situation, the Vienna Tourist Board held a design competition with the intention of stimulating the souvenir industry, and promote Vienna as a “design destination” for tourists by developing quintessential Viennese souvenirs for the 21st century. Titled European Home Run, this invitational competition was an unprecedented experiment for the Vienna Tourist Board. 

“Pop-up Vienna” by Héctor Serrano
Famous architecture such as the Vienna Ferris Wheel, Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and Session Hall pop up from ultra-thin brass cards painted in silver.

Since the majority of tourists in Vienna are from other countries, the competition sought foreign perspectives. Curation for the event was entrusted to Lilli Hollein, the director of Vienna Design Week, and as one might expect of a curator versed in design industry trends, she invited energetic design offices from six European nations: Ionna Vautrin (France), Pearson Lloyd (UK), DING3000 (Germany), Studio Formafantasma (Italy), Big-Game (Switzerland), and Héctor Serrano (Spain). To start off, the tourist board planned an inspiration tour in June in which the participating designers all got together to enjoy sightseeing in Vienna. The competition required the souvenir designs to be ecological, sized and shaped for convenient carry, and capable of being produced easily in the local area. In September, the prototypes were completed and exhibited in events held by the tourist board in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and Milan. On October 24 the designers assembled once again in Vienna, where the results of the screening were announced and an awards ceremony was held. 

“Flowers from Vienna” by DING3000
A bouquet of metal flowers in postcard form. Well-known Vienna tourist attractions and famous Viennese appear as pop-up flowers. The concept is to present an eternal, albeit small, bouquet of flowers from Vienna.

The winner was a set of cards called “Vienna Playing Cards” on the theme of Vienna's café culture and the birth of modern design, and was the highly intellectual work of Italy's Studio Formafantasma. Card games are an indispensable tradition of Vienna's café culture. In these cards, the Jokers show a café waiter; the Diamonds show Josef Hoffman's Kubus sofa; and in the Hearts suit, the buildings of Adolf Loos have become dresses worn by the Queen of Hearts.

“Doily Postcard” by Ionna Vautrin
A fusion of the postcard with traditional doily lace. When you dip the water-soluble card embroidered with doily lace into water, a bookmark, Christmas decoration, key holder, or bracelet appears.

A unique aspect of the competition was the fact that half of the proposed designs re-conceived the postcard—the most basic of souvenirs—as 3D communication products. Ionna Vautrin’s design is a traditional doily lace embroidered using water soluble cloth. When the receiver of the souvenir dips it in water, a bookmark, Christmas decoration, key holder, or bracelet appears. DING3000 proposed “Flowers from Vienna,” metal pop-up cards in the shape of a bouquet of flowers that never wither, like eternal love. Héctor Serrano's design employed the latest etching technology to etch into ultra-thin brass cards famous Viennese architecture—such as Vienna Ferris Wheel, Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral, and Session Hall—so that they appear to emerge from the metal. This “Pop-up Vienna” was selected for first place in a vote taken on the Vienna Tourist Board’s website where it earned 8,000 of a total of 33,000 votes cast by the general public. 

“Confluence of Ideas” by Pearson Lloyd
A contemporary interpretation of the traditional Vienna coffee set. Placing a spoon on top of the glass of water is a special feature of the Vienna tradition.

Manufacturers are already being sought for the commercialization of “Vienna Playing Cards” and “Pop-up Vienna,” and both will soon be available at the tourist information center at Albertina Plaza and the shop at the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts. However, as even the rejected designs are of high quality and deserve a better fate than becoming warehoused, I earnestly hope that all of them will eventually be commercialized. (Text by Hanae Komachi)

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