When Stephan Vary and his architecture and design studio Labvert were recently contracted to redecorate an apartment in a nineteenth-century building in the 8th district of Vienna, there was a special challenge in store for them. The clients were friends of Vary’s, a cosmopolitan married couple with residences in Paris and Vienna and a great passion for design. This undoubtedly made the assignment more demanding, but simultaneously more appealing as well—for it offered the possibility of a creative exchange at eye level. The result is a uniquely holistic approach in which architecture, layout organization and furniture design harmonize perfectly. Instead of a heterogeneous mix-and-match, all materials, colours and shapes are meticulously coordinated throughout the entire apartment. Taking inspiration from the mid-century style, the overall concept pays tribute to the heyday of interior design in the 1950s and 60s. Using natural materials and colours wherever possible, a contemporary and one-of-akind living space was created. As such, a hint of Wiener Werkstätte is discernible in the approach as well, since a significant number of furniture items, installations and accessories were exclusively designed and hand-made for the occasion.
Located in a typical Viennese Gründerzeit building, the heart of the apartment is an expansive cooking, dining and living area that forms a flowing continuum of space. Historical details like the mirrored doors and tall double windows with interior wooden shutters were carefully restored and integrated into the new design concept. To ensure maximum functionality without detracting from the generous spaciousness, the kitchen was partitioned off with a delicate steel-and-glass wall that can be closed as needed with two sliding doors or opened up to create a commodious eat-in kitchen. The cooking area is characterized by clear-cut shapes and high-quality surfaces, with countertops made of a gentle grey terrazzo that harmonizes pleasantly with the new light-coloured oak floors laid down throughout the apartment. Some of the cupboard doors are made of warm teakwood, while others feature lightly reflective structured glass fronts to lend additional emphasis to the depth of the room. The interiors of the cupboards are lined with light maple wood and natural leather.
This combination of open-pored teakwood exteriors and maple interiors complemented with nickel-plated metal details is encountered throughout the entire apartment. The dining table is a special highlight which was designed for the clients by Stephan Vary: Its slanted legs made of solid wood and nickel-plated steel playfully pick up the midcentury theme, thereby harmonizing perfectly not only with the classic designer chairs by Arne Jacobsen, but also with the hand-crafted sideboard. The ensemble is complemented by a black leather sofa group drafted by Johannes Spalt for Wittmann in the 1960s and a rug with stripes of red, light brown and gold that was designed by the apartment owners themselves.
All of the style elements are repeated in the remaining rooms in a playful richness of variations and adaptations. The adjoining office, for instance, features a further sideboard with the characteristic slanted legs and a purpose-built desk, both made of teak. The bedroom, which faces the interior courtyard, continues the concept of steel-and-glass constructions as room dividers. In addition, both the sleeping area and the walk-in closet make use of a high-tech textile weave to create a more intimate and peaceful atmosphere, and the full-length curtains in sand-coloured cashmere emphasize this impression even more. Finally, the bathroom takes up the harmonious combination of terrazzo and teakwood once again, with both the mirror lights and the mustard-yellow rug being exclusive Labvertdesigns.
Design: Labvert, www.labvert.com
Location: 1080 Vienna
Completion: Spring 2019
Total area: 130 m2
Photos: Mark Glassner