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In Vienna, we went to see The Museum of Applied Arts (Museum der Angewandte Kunst, MAK) located in the Innere Stadt. This is the Austrian equivalent of the Victoria and Albert museum of London (V&A).’s description of MAK:

Design is one of the main features of MAK. The museum shows furniture, glass, china, silver, and textiles from the Middle Ages to the present day. Precious crafts from the Wiener Werkstätte, bentwood furniture by Thonet and art nouveau highlights such as the gilded design of Gustav Klimt for the frieze of the Stoclet Palais in Brussels.

Here are some of the exhibits that we saw. Biedermeier furniture of the early 1800’s.

This museum must be the best place in the world to look at chairs.

A clever way to show off the curves of Thonet bentwood chairs.

Down the middle of a big room, one can walk between two screens one on each side which shows the silhouettes of the chairs. Or one can walk around to the other side of the screen to see the chairs.

This year is Gustav Klimt’s 150th birthday – so there are lots of activities in Vienna about him and his work. MAK is mounting an exhibition about Klimt’s design of a frieze in the Stoclet Palais in Belgium. Of course we did not see the real thing (we had to borrow the photo below from the Klimt Museum online) but the frieze shares a similar design to his very famous painting – The Kiss – which we saw in the museum at the Belvedere. Klimt’s gilded paintings cannot be reproduced by photography – one has to see the real thing in full size with the metallic gold effect to truly enjoy the richness of the piece. I will not post here about Klimt even though we saw a few pieces on this trip.

The basement of the museum houses the Study Collection where one can view different types of articles organized by material (i.e., textile, glass, ceramics, … etc).

More chairs !

In one of the display cases, we came across the set of cutlery which we are using at home. We knew the set was named  “Dry” and designed by Achille Castiglioni as Alessi’s first cutlery line. But we did not know it has so many other pieces – a serving set, ladles, spears, etc (not shown in the photo below).

We also saw the Frankfurt Kitchen of 1926 which was considered the forerunner of modern fitted kitchens.  It was designed with the concept of efficiency and cheap to build and  installed in the municipal housing projects in Frankfurt.

We have seen similar permanent exhibits dedicated to design objects in other museums – Museum of Modern Art of New York (MoMA) and the Pinakoteck Der Moderne in Munich; but MAK is dedicated, much bigger and better organized.


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