Colorful tiles on the roof of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna

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Vienna Media News – June 2023 Viennese Handcraftsmanship at the World’s Fair

Viennese artisans who showcased their creations at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair continue to thrive in the city. Then as now, the companies work closely with the leading designers of their time. Always in tune with the times back then, they have managed to retain their contemporary edge to this day. And by collaborating with top contemporary designers, these artisan businesses are particularly adept at combining the traditional with the present day.

J. & L. Lobmeyr: Crystalline Works of Art

Crystal glass manufacturer J. & L. Lobmeyr was one of the highest-profile participants at the 1873 Vienna World's Fair where they enjoyed great success. Company founder Ludwig Lobmeyr received numerous awards for his designs and even sat on the jury himself. And if that wasn’t enough, his company was granted the honor of furnishing the Emperor's Pavilion, where it contributed various highlights including the elaborately engraved Emperor's Service and a stunning mirror that can still be admired at its Kärntner Strasse premises. Founded in 1823, the family-owned company is known for its delicate drinking glasses in countless different designs, as well as its striking and magnificent chandeliers.

Lobmeyr has a long history of collaboration with artists ranging from Theophil Hansen, Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffmann to modern-day designers such as Marco Dessí and Stefan Sagmeister. The company’s collaboration with Wiener Werkstätte gave rise to timeless classics which it still produces to this day, including Josef Hoffmann’s iconic series B drinking glasses. One of Lobmeyr’s oldest series is its Service No. 4 from 1856. It was shown at the 1873 World's Fair and has been a bestseller ever since, continuing to impress new generations all the time with its simplicity. The Starburst chandelier, Lobmeyr’s best-known decorative lighting fixture, was produced in 1966 for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Exhibitions Celebrating 200 Years of Lobmeyr

  • J. & L. Lobmeyr is marking its bicentennial in 2023. An exhibition at the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (Jul 7-Sep 24, 2023) is dedicated to the Vienna World’s Fair and the company anniversary.
  • Lobmeyr is celebrating its anniversary with two exhibitions on the first floor of its headquarters at Kärntner Strasse 26: running from April to July 2023, the first of them will explore the topic of Lobmeyr at World’s Fairs and other exhibitions, from the 1862 World's Fair in London to the Vienna expo of 1873, to Cologne in 1914, Paris in 1925, and latterly the passion paths at Vienna Design Week. And between September and December 2023, another exhibition will focus on everything from the company’s design process and understanding of materials to the iconic pieces that Lobmeyr has created over the last 200 years.  

Jewel Hunting at Köchert

Traditional Viennese jeweler A.E. Köchert was already one of the leading jewelers in Europe at the time of the Vienna World's Fair. Once jeweler to the Austrian emperors, this traditional manufacturer continues to produce typical Viennese jewelry that elegantly combines the avant garde and the classical. The most famous jewelry to emerge from the house of Köchert are the legendary Sisi stars. Empress Elisabeth owned 27 of the diamond stars, designed and manufactured by the former holder of the royal warrant Köchert. Sisi wore the stars as necklaces, tiaras, pendants, brooches or simply in her hair. The latter style would became world-famous through a painting of the Empress by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (on display in the Sisi Museum at the Hofburg). Through her fashion preferences, Sisi triggered a "star trend" throughout Europe. Reissued in accordance with the original designs, the Sisi stars are now available to purchase once again from Köchert.

Founded in 1814, the family business set up shop in a store designed by the famous Ringstrasse architect Theophil Hansen on Neuer Markt in 1873 – the year of the Vienna World's Fair. But Hansen was not just an architect; he also designed jewelry for Köchert. His "Byzantine" tiara and "Swan Parure” (consisting of a necklace and earrings) earned Köchert first prize from the international jury at the 1873 Vienna World's Fair. However, the bespoke pieces were never put on sale as they were simply too expensive. Instead, they were taken apart and the individual elements were turned into other items of jewelry. An anniversary collection for the World's Fair is planned for fall 2023.

Like any self-respecting craftsman, Köchert would go on to collaborate with the Wiener Werkstätte design collective. Today, the goldsmiths at Köchert not only produce historical pieces but also numerous designs created by contemporary designers. While Hansen's historic storefront has also received a contemporary makeover, inside the original Hansen salon from 1873 remains intact. The precious pieces of jewelry are still made in the historic workshop on the first floor. In front of it is a salon, which also serves as a museum where patrons can see valuable original drawings and jewelry designs.

Jarosinski & Vaugoin: Silversmiths to Royalty

Traditional silversmiths Jarosinski & Vaugoin was another of the exhibitors at the Vienna World's Fair in 1873 and picked up various medals for its outstanding silver objects. Today, Jean-Paul Vaugoin runs the family business (est. 1847), which is now in its sixth generation. The fine silverware handcrafted here has an illustrious clientele including the royals at Kensington Palace in London, as well as royal houses as far afield as Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. The boutique silver manufactory specializes in cutlery and tableware featuring everything from Baroque to contemporary designs.

One of the last companies in the world to still craft its silverware by hand, Jarosinski & Vaugoin has 200 different models in its range. Figurehead Jean-Paul Vaugoin loves nothing more than waxing lyrical about these and some of the less conventional items in a cutlery canteen. Because there is a separate cutlery set for just about everything, from grapefruit spoons to oyster forks and even silver chicken leg holders. Vaugoin silverware continues to be made in a historic workshop in the seventh district. But it’s not just historical pieces – the company portfolio also features modern designs by respected names such as Thomas Feichtner and Sebastian Menschhorn. Jean-Paul Vaugoin is particularly proud of a silver replica of Benvenuto Cellini's famous saliera salt cellar (the original is gold), which was made in 1969 for a state visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Vienna as a guest favor.

Bespoke Footwear from Scheer: Timeless Elegance

Scheer has been famous for its handmade custom shoes since 1816. And they are not any old shoes. The company was awarded a prize for its footwear at the 1873 Vienna World's Fair, and soon after was also granted the royal warrant as an official supplier to the Imperial Court. Now in its seventh generation, the company is managed by Markus Scheer, under whose leadership exclusive made-to-measure shoes for ladies and gentlemen continue to be crafted using time-honored shoemaking techniques. Made by hand, each shoe takes around 60 hours to complete. Patrons enjoy a complimentary professional cleaning service, with customers as far away as Japan sending in their shoes for a shine. Over the years, the company has made shoes for Emperor Franz Joseph and many other high-profile figures.

Tip: To mark 150 years of the Vienna World's Fair, the Medal of Merit and various showcases from 1873 have been on display at the Scheer boutique since the beginning of January 2023.



Helena Steinhart
Media Relations
+43 1 211 14-364