“When the end of the world comes, I’ll go to Vienna. Everything happens ten years later there.”
There might be a kernel of truth to this shot of vitriol the writer Karl Kraus is said to have fired against the backwardness of his home of many years, Vienna. Could it be that the veil of lethargy, morbidity, and misanthropy Vienna is so joyously cultivating has immunised the city against the apocalypse? That, like a vaccine, there’s enough flirtation with death to scare real death away, if only for a while?
It’s no coincidence that Vienna’s most popular era, the fin-de-siècle of the 19th century seems to be a time eagerly, albeit passively, waiting for its own end and all the further horrible ends of the 20th century. Even its name has an ‘end’ in itself. Of course, by now Vienna is a lively and diverse city thriving on its social consensus, its hospitality and creative industry. Still, notwithstanding their brutal cousins, here the polite shadows of the past brush past you with a gentle “Memento mori” on their pursed lips more often than in other places. So, you better get a dose of decadently raw beauty straight from the best Viennese workshops to prep against any coming small apocalypses. And where better to celebrate our heated ennui as the world around us goes under than the famous Viennese coffee houses. That’s an institution that will surely survive the world’s end. In fact, they will be better than ever, once ‘Wien ohne Wiener’, the Vienna without the Viennese desired by every real Viennese person, is achieved.
Jokes aside, the objects of our “Postapocalyptic Kaffeehaus” are poetic interventions contemplating what remains of our rituals when circumstances change. As sensitive observers, the designers open a variety of windows: radical, humorous, intuitive or conceptual, raw or refined, they all strive not to wallow in cynic dystopianism but to reimagine, build, and focus on what we cherish.
Read our interview with curator Gabriel Roland on Adorno Editorial.