Opening Weekend of the Design Month Graz
On the weekend of May 6th to 9th 2022, we had the honor to be present at the opening of Design Month Graz, an annual cultural event that takes over the entire UNESCO City of Design Graz in Austria with countless events, exhibitions, and performances.
The Design Month Graz is initiated by Creative Industries Styria (CIS), a network company of the Province of Styria. Founded in 2007, it aims to be the bridge-builder and networking body between the creative industries and the classical economy, and strives to improve and expand performance on the market for both sides.
Design Month Graz bundles and condenses the energy of the local creative industries within one month, makes them visible to the outside world and thus makes a central contribution to anchoring the creative industries in people’s minds. Besides the goal of sharpening the perception for the importance of design, it is not only about the purely decorative prettification of things, but also about the economic relevance as well as the transformational power of design in the economy and society—which is why, fittingly, this year’s motto of Design Month is Green Transition.
Under the term Design Month, numerous local partners are involved with activities and designers, local design schools and many more individuals of the creative industry are enabled to build synergies. Within this month, the entire cityscape is shaped by the impressions of Design Month, its colorful flags can be found everywhere in the city, marking an eventful time. In attendance at the opening weekend were inspiring guests from all over the world, including visitors from other UNESCO cities.
On Friday evening at the grand opening ceremony in Minoriten Center Graz, we were welcomed by Eberhard Schrempf, Managing Director of CIS, as well as Günter Riegler, City Counciler for Tourism and Culture, and Kurt Egger, General Secretary of Austrian Economic League. With the opening of the Design Month Graz, accompanying exhibitions—like Design Everyday and ZweckZwei—Shift Circular Design which were also located in the Minoriten Center—also were declared open. All these exhibitions are united by the aspect of sustainability, which referred to the Design Month’s motto Green Transition. With a nice branded beer in one hand and delicious ice-cream in the other, one could walk around in the beautiful building through the exhibitions, also witnessing the reopening of the impressive historical Minoritensaal, which had prior been renovated for years.
Saturday started with a Designer’s Breakfast, getting to with other guests accompanied by excellent coffee and traditional Austrian breakfast. This was followed by the Design in the City tour: 37 stores all over Graz gave designers a platform to display their work, which you could discover and also buy. We visited four of those designers, who gave us insight to their crafts, showing the impressive backgrounds of their products and ideas, mostly paired with a sustainable aspect to them.
Highlight of Saturday afternoon was the opening of the Design Clinic—a novel and humorous concept for promoting the correcting of design mistakes. Under the motto “Bad Design can be healed,” people who suffer from chronic design problems or bad consultation can come to the clinic and will be referred to a fitting designer for a free consultation. The clinic includes designers along all categories, like Interior, Product Design, Furniture, Graphic Design, Identity and Brand, Website, Public Space and much more, which will gladly help you with your design problem.
On Saturday we ended the evening on the Murinsel, where we heard a short talk by the Design Capital of the World Valencia and otherwise had plenty of food and drinks, and good community. While walking around the city the whole day to the different locations and exhibitions, one could just notice the buzzing creativity provided by the Design Month.
Sunday was then: Off into the bus and off to the countryside!
First stop was the breathtaking Hollenegg Castle in Western Styria. We were welcomed by Alice Stori Liechtenstein, lady of the castle and also blogger, designer, and curator in the international design scene. Apart from living in the castle, she initiates design related talks and events as well as a reoccurring design residency. Every room in the castle we visited was overwhelmingly beautiful, showing old historical features, often with Asian influences, mixed with exhibits created by the design residents. The contrast of modern and sometimes almost futuristic objects with the historical background was astonishing.
Our tour continued to Casa Tondolo, inhabited and shaped by the designer duo Itshe & Io in the mountain village of Trahütten. Inherited by one of the artists grandmother, they took on the renovation to create a space overflowing with creativity, welcoming guests to stay with a beautiful view as well as creating a space to host workshops. For Design Month, we were welcomed with extravagant and humorous performances, surprising us in every room.
In the context of the designfrische series of exhibitions, we continued our journey to Kunstraum Sagmeister where artist Moya Hoke presented her artistic works. She created beautiful and sustainable lampshades made of self grown kombucha skin and self made porcelain. Kindly she explained to us in detail the process of this making, emphasizing how she finds it important—especially among designers—to share more insights into our “design-secrets.”
The countryside-trip was rounded off by an evening of wine tasting on a wine yard and traditional Austrian Buschenschank KRENN 49 in Edelsbach bei Feldbach. Another highlight and at the same time absolute nightmare for many: after the wine tasting, Eberhard Schrempf invited each represented country to sing a song from their home, which surely brought people closer together.
CIS doesn’t mess around: with so much care, knowledge, and motivation they manage to initiate such a powerful and inspiring event, aiming for Green Transition and to bring a positive impact not only to designers and design in general, but also for the city, Styria, and the whole of society. If you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to visit Design Month Graz in the remaining time this year or start making plans to join next year!
Images: © Creative Industries Styra GmbH, Miriam Raneburger, GEOPHO and Slanted Publishers