For 7 consecutive years, Vienna has been chosen as the number 1 city in quality of life. Among the many criteria that constitute a good place to live is its cultural legacy: museums, opera, design, theater. In this regard, the ancient capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire hides real treasures of the grand Habsburg era.
One of these historical gems is located in the 1st district, on Kärntner Straße. There, in the heart of the city, is LOBMEYR, one of the most famous and traditional crystal and glass factories in Europe.
LOBMEYR is in its sixth generation as a family business. It was founded in 1823 by Josef Lobmeyr, who soon after became the official supplier to the Imperial House. His children inherited the company, which was then passed to a nephew, Stephan Rath. The descendants of Mr. Rath are still leading the business today. I met with them personally to see the backstage of the production of chandeliers that currently light the Metropolitan Opera in New York. I was also able to see the production of the vases that Maison Dior recently commissioned for an exhibition in France. Everything handmade by Austrian and Hungarian artisans.
Leonid Rath, who showed us the entire factory, doesn’t talk about perfection in production, but of the best quality and the best technique. His artisans use the same remote techniques from the Baroque era or the French Colonial Empire to produce the chandeliers, for instance. The excellence of the crafts is impressive. Here I’m engraving initials, a huge challenge because I have two left hands.
Since the beginning of its history, the Lobmeyr family has worked with artists, painters and designers, creating an interaction among the artistic movements of these 200 years. In the same workshop, glasses and bottles designed by architect Adolf Loos in the beginning of the 20th century live together with the drawings of Austrian artist Stefan Sagmeister of the 2000s. The works of architect Joseph Hoffmann, from the 30s, are alive next to the latest collaboration with artist Taiwanese Hanhsi Chen, from the studio Poetic Lab.
Tradition is not a repetition of the past, but the transference of habits and memories onto the next generation. This is probably the secret to the longevity of LOBMEYR.