AD MENSAM visual identity by Dorothée Dähler, Kaj Lehmann who worked together with photographer Simone Sandhal


A Schloss Hollenegg for Design exhibition, curated by Alice Stori Liechtenstein

May 2019
The objects that dress the table change; we use them to perform the rituals of how we take a meal. Eating together has a very social aspect. While sharing food we can forget our differences, food can stimulate friendships, food opens conversation but also discussions, but what is sure; certainly it creates a dialogue.
AD MENSAM visual identity by Dorothée Dähler, Kaj Lehmann who worked together with photographer Simone Sandhal
Alice Stori Liechtenstein invited 21 designers to work on this theme. ‘The vastness of the theme of Ad Mensam means we have only started scratching at the surface, but the surface of the table is a good place to start scratching.’
Schloss Hollenegg for Design started in 2015 offering a residency program for young emerging designers with strong conceptual portfolios; it provides space for design research and criticism of design culture. The designers’ work relating to the context of a given theme are connected to a specific room in the castle. The result of these projects are shown in the annual exhibition.
Alice Stori Lichtenstein ©Simone Sandahl
Being guided through the exhibition by Alice herself was a true privilege. She is so passionate about the project that one immediately feels like a part of it—her enthusiasm is contagious. Her mediterranean temperament is also reflected not only in the incredible location, but also in the relationships that she builds with the designers themselves. A clear manifestation of these kind of playful relationship was Katie Stout, one of the designers in residence, hand painting Alice’s evening gown–one that she has owned since she was 18–with McDonald’s french fries and Wiener sausages. The dress was of course worn with the grace and elegance of a princess. The castle is a breathtaking space, renovated with a great deal of reverence for its history but in a very human way. The generosity of Liechtenstein is reflected in her opening the private residence of her family, where she lives with her husband and two children, and in the way she tries to connect young, brilliant designers with brands in her network with whom they could collaborate–Alice makes things happen. The crowd at the opening was a mix of Austrian nobles, village people, international design aficionados and of course the designers. And yes, in case you’re wondering, Alice knows how to throw a hell of a party at the castle!
DAMN° highlights some of the projects on view at Schloss Hollenegg. This year residencies were Katie Scott, Katie Stout, OS&OOS and Nel Verbeke. Scott, graduated as an illustrator, has worked on the fact that poisoning was a constant threat for the nobility in the 12th century (Schloss Hollenegg dates back to that period). The poisons, as well as their antidotes, were mostly botanical. Today we also feel threatened by the food industry—we are concerned about our nutritional health, we don’t know exactly what toxic chemicals we are consuming. On the other hand some toxins we consume intentionally, like alcohol, which has almost always been an important part of human society and culture. Scott has created a set of drinking glasses for Lobmeyr, each engraved with a different botanical poison, and each poison is also the antidote to the previous poison in the drinking order.
Katie Scott photo by ©Leonhard Hilzensauer
Katie Stout imagines a naughty woman as the perfect hostess who likes to be bad and loves to eat. She designed and painted, together with Augarten, a dinner set with patterns and motifs that are inspired by her own blundering table rituals: messy, awkward and tardy.
OS&OOS worked on an interpretation of the archetypical head of the table chairs in anodised aluminium layers overlapping each other. They collaborated with Disé, an italian company specialised in collectible furniture; preserving the tradition of Italian craftsmanship and combining it with design research.
OS&OOS chairs photo by ©Simone Sandahl
Nel Verbeke worked on The Architecture of a Tea Ceremony. As in all of her work, she deals with the emotional potential of shape and space. The installation is set in a tower room and the architecture embraces her space for contemplation. Sitting in one of the four alcoves, you feel the invitation to free yourself of the daily concerns of every-day life and focus on the interaction between the other users. Verbeke questions the future perspectives of rituals and traditions in relation to her ongoing research on the emotional potential of design. Nel collaborated with Antoine to apply the faux maple technique alluding to the castle’s interiors where it is often used.
Nel Verbeke installation, photo by ©Simone Sandahl
A special project called Common Sitting by Commonplace was designed in partnership with Logicdata for the old library in the tower of Schloss Hollenegg. The road form of the room resulted in a large scale fluid piece of furniture that consists of two curved platforms that can move up and down independently, so they can be a bench, a high table, a bench with table and anything in between. The wine coloured lacquer was a choice Alice wasn’t enthusiastic about at first, but it blends perfectly with the colour of the room and the leather bound books in it.
Commonplace photo by ©Simone Sandahl
In the collective exhibition Crafting Plastics’ project Face the Waste is dealing with the waste we produce during dining rituals. They integrated a shredder and composter into the table design so that we can close the production, recycling cycle by using design that allows us to make new, more sustainable routines. All the material of the cups, plates and table top are made from the waste of corn, which can be recycled entirely.
Crafting Plastics photo by ©Simone Sandahl
Carolien Niebling investigated the beauty and edible possibilities of seaweed. She made a series of plates at Sèvres in delicate porcelain where you can see the relief of the algues, going as thin as 2 cells of thickness. The way we are accustomed to seeing seaweed is dried and cut into smaller pieces, a form in which its beauty isn’t particularly visible, which is why why Niebling wanted to show them in their natural, beautiful shape. Seeing it this way, she wants to stimulate us to eat them. This design also stems from a great deal of research that suggests that eating algae would help solve a lot of food sustainability issues and it is also packed full of nutrients.
Carolien Niebling plate photo by ©Simone Sandahl
Also Francesca Sarti, founder of Arabeschi di Latte, invites us to discover the multifaceted possibilities of the pumpkin; there are more than 40 varieties. Sarti also brings attention to the function of the pumpkin as a container used in different cultures around the world. On the night of the opening she invited the visitors to taste special drinks with pumpkin ingredients on a long, imposing table made from the Redwood Sequoia which had grown in the park of Schloss Hollenegg.
In the meantime Optimismus served dinner in the inner courtyard in their Bricknic, inspired by brick-firing in East Africa. It was a beautiful sight—the visitors flocking around the oven, getting to know each other, discussing food, sharing experiences—underlining the whole core of the exhibition.
Dean Brown made a compact kitchen for the future designers in residence, constructed from local Austrian pine timber. When closed, it looks like a massive castle door because it’s covered with 250 wooden spheres. When open you can discover the clever construction and different functionalities it has: a room divider, a breakfast bar, a canteen.
Dean Brown photo by ©Simone Sandahl
Studio Plastique did a research on the (ab)use of alcohol and came up with some playful high quality vessels that question the value of what we drink. Comrades’  handling and shape requires certain skills, so the more intoxicated you become, the more the vessels turn out to be logically illogic.
Alexandre Humbert surprises the visitors by letting the objects speak for themselves in an installation where three chairs from Schloss Hollenegg talk to each other over dinner in a discussion that questions their own existence. Humbert made a series of films called Object Interview, these are conversations with designed objects. He thinks designers are storytellers, and so they design the object, but also the system by which one would use that object.
Alexandre Humbert photo by ©Simone Sandahl
The evening ended with a party in one of the majestic rooms of the castle, with the ancestors in the paintings watching over the crowd as they danced and mingled. This is the perfect way to keep history alive and be generous with your heritage in a clever and respectful way.