Since its founding six generations ago, Lobmeyr has tended to follow its own compass rather than listening to the whims of the market — in other words, it’s never been afraid to be a little bit different. It’s why the company moved from its original role as glass merchants to manufacturers; what inspired a relationship with the radical designers of the Wiener Werkstätte; and why the company today collaborates with designers like Polka, whose 2008 beer glasses boast an engraving based on the goals scored during a 1978 soccer match between Austria and Germany.
In Lobmeyr’s case, different works. Its chandeliers hang in New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Kremlin, its drinking sets have been designed by everyone from Josef Hoffmann to Max Lamb, and its glittery, three-story emporium, on one of Vienna’s main shopping drags, is the kind of place tourists make a point to visit. But very few have had the opportunity to see inside Lobmeyr’s crystal-making workshop, where the company fits and fabricates each piece by hand, using the same methods that were employed during each glass or chandelier’s original production. A chance meeting at the Milan Furniture Fair with Marco Dessí, the Italian-born, Vienna-based designer who has been collaborating with Lobmeyr in recent years, netted me a visit; together we met with Leonid Rath, who with his two brothers now runs the company’s day to day.
If you’ve recently strolled through the streets of Vienna’s city center, chances are you’re familiar with Mühlbauer, the 107-year-old hat-maker whose two flagships, tiny jewelboxes designed by the German-Italian architect duo Kühn Malvezzi, are located just a stone’s throw from Adolf Loos’s infamous American Bar. Ditto if you’ve been paying attention to the ever-changing hat wardrobe of Brad Pitt — who’s a fan — or if you’ve been shopping for accessories in chic department stores from Bergdorf’s to Le Bon Marché. The millinery has made such a name for itself in the past few years, collaborating with cult fashion labels like Fabrics Interseason and outfitting the likes of Yoko Ono and Meryl Streep, it’s hard to believe that in 2001, when Klaus Mühlbauer took over the company with his sister Marlies, “nobody even knew that Mühlbauer was related to hats,” he says.
In the mountains north of Barcelona, deep in the heart of Catalonia, a renowned gastronomer toils in an experimental food lab, researching and testing dozens of flavors each year. Beloved by his peers, he has thousands of loyal fans. But he is not Ferran Adrìa.
From birth, Daniel Heer was groomed to take over his family's leather- and mattress-making business. He learned the necessary skills early on, honing them through an adolescence spent at the Heer workshop in Lucerne, Switzerland, watching his father and grandfather work. His post-secondary education focused on one thing and one thing only: how to ply his trade. And then when he moved to Berlin at age 20, he left it all behind.