Austria’s top concept stores offer an experience that goes over and above that of a simple retail space. From the quality of their products to the unique atmospheres and events they offer, these are some of the most creative and stylish boutiques in Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Graz
The notion of concept stores is a relatively new global retail phenomenon, yet it has established a firm foothold in Austria over recent years. The Viennese fashion and lifestyle boutique Song, which opened in 1998, can be counted as one of the forerunners: it paved the way for a whole fleet of fascinating concept stores to open across the country.
When you cross the threshold you step into a carefully curated world where you’ll enjoy an experience that is designed to be exclusive and personal
Designed as a world of its own, each concept store is based around a specific theme and sets out to offer an exclusive shopping experience. Often established as a reaction to mass consumerism and large chains, these stores set out to provide a different offering. Die Sellerie, located in the creative neighbourhood of Vienna’s seventh district, is one such boutique.
‘We wanted to position ourselves as a Viennese alternative to the big players of home decor and create a cosy space where you can enjoy your day,’ explain founders Patrick Bauer and Georg Leditzky, both graphic designers. Home accessories, stationery and beautiful gifts by niche European names sit alongside the brand’s own line of locally made stationery products.
Less than five minutes’ walk away you’ll find Volta, which follows a similar principles: this contemporary design store is a celebration of craftsmanship. Volta carries minimalist design pieces for the home, sourced from across the world, including Welsh ceramics, Austrian beeswax candles, brass pieces from Norway and organic tea from Denmark.
What began in Vienna has since expanded beyond the capital and today concept stores can be found in other cities. Daniel Matt founded Resort in 2013, bringing a new store format to the town of Innsbruck. He originally planned to open in Vienna, but ‘fell in love’ with the Innsbruck location. ‘Nothing like this type of store existed in western Austria, so the decision came quite naturally,’ he recalls.
Keen to encourage customers on a voyage of discovery, Matt organised Resort into themed areas. ‘I try to showcase lifestyle in all its daily aspects,’ he says. ‘But I’m always on the hunt for the new, or the unexpected.’ The boutique stocks niche brands across beauty, home and lifestyle, including Binchotan, Cire Trudon and Timorous Beasties, alongside Austrian labels such as Susanne Kaufmann and WienerBlut.
Like Resort in Innsbruck, Tash Living in Graz opened four years ago by Natascha Galler, was founded to fill a gap in the market. ‘It was really time to enrich the offer here with such a store,’ she explains. Inspired by experiences in Istanbul of shopping paired with coffee, the boutique, coffee house and interior design studio flow harmoniously together to form one entity under one roof. Products are presented according to the notion of designwelt (design world); carefully thought out by the founder, these change on a regular basis.
Despite being different in concept and location, these stores share a common outlook. Ethical and sustainable approaches, for example, are valued principles. ‘I always care about natural materials, little to no packaging and fair production with good quality. And I look for labels from Europe to avoid unnecessarily long delivery routes,’ says Galler. The team at Die Sellerie also seek out products that have not been mass-produced in unethical conditions. ‘It's a constant self-imposed filter mechanism to guarantee our customers the constant high level of quality they expect from us,’ they explain. Ethics and quality go hand-in-hand.
Besides creating a space for specialised fashion and design labels in Austria’s retail landscape, these concept stores go beyond simply providing a retail experience. Song in Vienna hosts exhibitions, creating a hybrid space that combines fashion and art. At Tash Living, the studio aspect allows customers to enjoy a bespoke experience. ‘It is a useful addition for customers who are not only looking for one furniture piece from the store but would like an individual custom-made concept or wish to be advised in interior matters,’ explains Galler. Die Sellerie offers prop and set styling services – and you might get advice on more than just shopping. Indeed, the team is keen to offer you top tips about their city, as they explain: ‘We love to chat about Vienna, its sights and the most bohemian places around town.’
Whether you visit Die Sellerie, Volta or Song in Vienna, Resort in Innsbruck or Tash Living in Graz, when you cross the threshold you step into a carefully curated world where you’ll enjoy an experience that is designed to be exclusive and personal.