In 2012, six product designers from six different European countries were invited by the Vienna Tourist Board1 to capture their view of Vienna in a three-dimensional proposal for a souvenir for the city. The result of the competition saw Formafantasma as the winner, with its design for a deck of playing cards loaded with historical references to modernist Vienna.
The design of the cards revisits the picturesque. Textures sampled from museum archives, iconic modernist buildings and traditional Austrian products are playfully combined to create a new iconic collection of playing cards. The deck has been locally produced in Vienna by the traditional playing cards company Piatnik & Söhne2. Started in 1824 by Anton Moser, the company is considered by some to be an icon of Vienna and still one of the most successful producers of its kind.
Following some of the references used to design the deck of cards: the club is pictured as the weave of the straw in the Thonet chair no.14, while the diamond symbol is a square turned at ninety degrees, alluding to the recurrent quadratic theme in the work of Josef Hoffmann. The Ace of Diamonds features Hoffmann’s iconic Kubus armchair, designed in 1910. The Ace of Hearts is the ‘heart of Adolf Loos’ and is accompanied by the title of his 1913 essay, ‘Ornament and Crime’. The spade symbol has been replaced with the Eicheln (acorn), one of the card suits used in Germany and Austria, especially in the southern regions. These suits explicitly refer to rural culture and seasonal harvesting. As a reinterpretation of such characteristics, the six is designed with five acorns stacked at the bottom of the card as if they had just fallen from the tree. The King of Hearts is armed with elegance. His sword is carved with the title of the essay by Adolf Loos ‘Why a man should be well – dressed’, while the texture of his vest displays a textile designed by Josef Hoffmann for the Austrian company Wiener Werkstätte.
The Queen of Hearts is the French American – born dancer Josephine Baker. She is wearing the house that Adolf Loos designed for her in 1927 but never built. The armour of the Jack of Hearts is a side view of the Steiner House, designed in 1910 by Adolf Loos and located at St. VeitGasse 10, Vienna. The two jokers are pictured as waiters of a Viennese Kaffeehaus. One wears the iconic hat of the famous coffee brand Julius Meinl. On the tray, coffee is served traditionally, with a spoon laid upside down on the cup. The other joker carries the ‘candy dish’, one of the most iconic pieces by the J. & L. Lobmeyr Viennese glass manufacturer, designed by Oswald Haerdtl in 1925.
Notes, References and External Links
1. The Vienna Tourist Board provides services like the Vienna Card and comprehensive information about sights, hotels and leisure activities in Vienna. 2. Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne (Wiener Spielkartenfabrik), commonly referred to as Piatnik, is an Austrian playing card and board game manufacturing company based in Vienna.
CONCEPT, DESIGN Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin DEVELOPMENT Francesco Zorzi PRODUCTION Piatnik, Vienna PHOTO CREDITS Federico Floriani
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