Study Collection of Contemporary Crafts and
Design in the Bregenzerwald
Guided tours: every first Saturday of the month, 11 am–12 noon or on request
The set-up Werkraumdepot as permanent study collection in the Werkraumhaus provides an in-depth view of contemporary crafts and design from the region. It gets its name from the first showroom of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald operating from 2004 to 2013. Even then, acquisitions of the vorarlberg museum were on display in the werkraum depot in Schwarzenberg – an important forerunner of the Zumthor building in Andelsbuch as exhibition venue and educational facility. The present new installation was made possible through the financial support of the Friends – Freunde des Werkraum Bregenzerwald and can be viewed every first Saturday of the month or on request in a special guided tour option organised by the vorarlberg museum and Werkraum Bregenzerwald.
The impetus for the new installation was triggered by the exhibition shown in summer 2017, Archiv der Formen. Handwerk und Design im Bregenzerwald (Archive of Forms. Crafts and Design in the Bregenz Forest, 1 July – 7 October 2017). This overview, with more than 200 exhibits selected from hitherto 632 submissions to Handwerk + Form, conveyed an overall impression of the developments and the creative richness of the Bregenz Forest craft workshops since the first edition of the design competition in 1991. The exhibition, in its a dense presentation of furniture and objects on room-high shelves, was acclaimed by visitors from home and abroad. Many of the exhibits were loans from the collection of the vorarlberg museum, which were in part stored already in the basement of the Werkraumhaus. The idea therefore seemed obvious to show – at least at certain times – this otherwise invisible “treasure chamber” in a permanent presentation to the interested public.
Treasure chamber and place for learning
The newly set-up Werkraumdepot is spread out on around 200m2 of floor space in the basement of the Werkraumhaus and includes about eighty objects from the collection of the vorarlberg museum, also a few loans directly from the craft workshops. The collection pieces stem mostly from the purchase of exhibits from the exhibition möbel für alle (Everyone’s furniture), also purchases from prize-winning projects from the competition Handwerk + Form from 1991 to the present day. The resulting study collection thus provides an excellent view of the works and influence of the regional craft workshops and manifests the superlative creative standard and quality of their products.
The design team of Robert Rüf (Robert Rüf Industrial Design, Vienna) and Christof Nardin (Büronardin, Vienna), who were also responsible for the summer exhibition, subtly adopted quotations from Archiv der Formen for the setting of the depot. Another specified assignment for the two men from Alberschwende (a village nearby) was to re-use the existing store shelves made of saw-rough, grey-painted wood and thus keep the reconstruction within economic and ecological limits – financing has mainly been provided by the Friends – Freunde des Werkraum Bregenzerwald. Moreover, the shelves are a reminiscence of the Schwarzenberg depot, where they were once in use.
The installation of the objects doesn’t keep to an explicit scheme, but is oriented on the available space – it allows objects or groups and ensembles (shelves, tables, chairs, stools, etc.) to be re-arranged or compacted if necessary. The study collection is not finalised and will offer space for further acquisitions. The object captions are attached with Velcro strips and easily positioned; they are kept to a minimum, since the information and educational options – in part with demonstrations of the way the objects function – are communicated in the guided tours. Guide and visitors wear gloves so as to protect the museum collection items. An introductory video interview made for Archiv der Formen provides a view of the starting situation before the organisation of the design competition and the founding of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald; it includes the “founding fathers” of Handwerk + Form, among them members of the Handwerkverein (Crafts Association) Andelsbuch and the graphic artist Harry Metzler. The competition and the collection möbel für alle supplying the exhibits form the background for the stories behind the individual objects.
Handwerk + Form
For the 200th anniversary of the Handwerkerverein Andelsbuch, in 1991 a design competition titled Handwerk + Form (Crafts + Form) was organised for the first time. The competition’s goal was to develop technically and aesthetically perfected products through the collaboration of regional craftspeople from home and abroad, all on an equal basis. However, only craft workshops and other enterprises from the Bregenz Forest were qualified to submit. The results and this collaboration were adjudicated by an expert jury according to specified criteria and presented to the public in a special exhibition tour through workshops and farm buildings. The competition has been organised by the Werkraum Bregenzerwald in a triennial rhythm since the year 2000 – in 2018 the competition is taking place for the eighth time.
Möbel für alle – Everyone’s Furniture
Vorarlberg is internationally acclaimed for its contemporary building culture. To have this access to architecture, craft enterprises with innovative initiative are needed that are creative and competent partners for the architects. Besides the conventional tasks involved in (interior) architecture, the approach to the kinds of objects and furniture demanded by these spaces is becoming increasingly important. Roland Gnaiger and Adolph Stiller curated the exhibition möbel für alle. designinitiative werkraum bregenzerwald for the Ringturm in Vienna (17 April—18 June 2002). Around forty everyday, functional and aesthetically exceptional objects by Werkraum craft workshops showed the standards of modern furniture construction in the Bregenz Forest – among them many objects that were created for the competition Handwerk+Form. The exhibition and the catalogue made the Bregenzerwald culture of everyday home living accessible to a broad-based public for the first time in contemporary form, and with the highest possible standard of craftsmanship.
The Werkraumdepot is thus an important place for education – not only for the crafts and creative qualities and skills in the regions – but also for the young history of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald and its narrative of change. It supplements and provides an in-depth enhancement to the rest of the presentation in the Werkraumhaus, including special exhibitions and the Werkraumschau (annual members only exhibition). The study collection and depot is a central place for training and learning in crafts and design for the Werkraum school, which will motivate and foster the pupils’ creativity through the example of superlative collection items. Besides the digital and universally accessible collection www.archivderformen.at, the Werkraumdepot offers the opportunity to learn about the physical object, hands-on and in depth.
The Werkraumdepot will be the starting point for the educational and guided tour programme within the framework of the competition Handwerk + Form, which is being held again this year, and the exhibition tour in autumn (13/14/18/19 October 2018).
Study Collection of Contemporary Crafts
and Design in the Bregenzerwald
Opening: February 2, 2018
Guided tours: every first Saturday of the month, 11 am–12 noon or on request
Admission (incl. guided tour): €12 / concessions € 9.- for pupils, apprentices and students
Concept: Thomas Geisler
Exhibition Design: Robert Rüf Industrial Design, Vienna
Graphic Design: Büronardin, Vienna
Film Interviews: Karin Guldenschuh
Educational Programme: Verena Dünser
Photos by Roswitha Schneider