As a stylist who sources products from all over the world, the greatest shopping tip I can give the traveler is to search online for either mid-century or local artisan boutiques in any given city. Even the travel books can’t keep up with the up-and-coming neighborhoods. Read blogs and search each store name that sounds interesting to you—this will narrow down all the choices and help you zero in on those shops that have what you are looking for.
This process is how I decided in a few minutes what street to shop in Vienna last month. These three stores have inventory you can access online or via email if you would like to purchase some of the items I sourced.
I found heaven in Vienna–“Henny” heaven that is. After working for Tiffany’s in New York for over 13 years, shop owner Henny Abraham decided to open a boutique in a very hip Vienna neighborhood on Schleifmuhlgasse Street. She has quite a local following, evident by the several women who stopped in to see what was new and started buying with serious intent while I was there.
Her shop is filled with scarves, bed linens, slippers, robes, wraps, and jewelry. I bought a pair of slippers from Morocco, silk scarves and a wrap from East India. And there was so much more—wedding shawls and tribal wear that was endlessly detailed, special, and completely one of a kind.
What I learned the most from Henny was her love of fabric and craftsmanship. Every single item in her shop is something she knows and loves. She’s collected her shop’s wares purposely, and stacked them neatly into piles of history for the shoppers’ edification.
Her clear blue eyes flickered when I told her I was a stylist—then when I reached for something in the shop, a touch was welcomed even though I was ruining the perfect pile of color spectrum. Many of her items cannot be found anywhere—she hunts for East Indian pieces that are completely handmade from loom to embroidery and finishing.
If you are interested in any of these fabrics, contact Henny via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she’ll gladly send you photos. She takes credit cards and will ship to Minnesota, where one of her favorite new clients will be featuring her items in a local editorial soon.
Garabarage is not Garbage
I saw this store online and fell in love with idea—taking everyday discarded items and making them into something hip, functional, and valued by consumers. When I walked into Garabarage, I noticed beautifully big necklaces fashioned from what turned out to be bicycle tire tubes. I almost bought one but was drawn instead to the super heavy bags they make out of used canvas and vinyl.
If they could have taken one of our credit cards, I would have bought even more. There were cute pieces of furniture made out of books, lamps made out materials from snow skis, and duffels made from boat sails.
I did shoot a photo (which unfortunately, turned out a little blurry) of two employees against a fabulous art wall. Notice that chair they are sitting on? It’s repurposed stair tread. They’ve taken garbage cans and made them into sturdy chairs, and firehouse hose for a swing hanging in the middle of the shop.
Just the experience of exploring the Garabarage mindset is a product designer’s dream. Bowling pin stools or planters? No problem. Anything can be made to be useful and artful for that super-strong construction one looks for in product design longevity.
The shop’s managers are interested in featuring product in Twin Cities stores—or you can set up a PayPal account and buy a few of these items for yourself. I would not be surprised to see Garabarage featured in a national venue soon.
If you could befriend a Mid-century curator in Europe who knows the real deal when he sees it, wouldn’t you? Absolutely. Galerie Rauminhalt is going on 1stdibs in a matter of weeks as the first batch of dealers to gain a coveted spot on the super successful retailers site.
I didn’t buy anything here, but I wanted to. There was original Frank Stella artwork and a Serge Mouille Cocotte light fixture that could have been sent back to the Midwest. No matter—there are so many great finds in Harald Bichler’s shop, you’ll soon be able shop them just like I did, but from the comfort of your own home.
Are the Austrian’s into mid century? Yes and no. Some of the pieces are just too big for their spaces, and some of the higher priced items are destined for a specialized collection.Right now, Galerie Rauminhalt is setting prices at a fair level for the U.S. and we should snap them up as quickly as we can!
Barbara Schmidt, is principal and lead designer of bstyle, inc., a nationally recognized design firm creating and building spaces for homeowners, retailers and manufacturers for over twenty years.