Vienna is the world’s best city to live in, according to the 2016 Mercer Quality of Life survey. It’s easy to see why, given the city’s abundance of cultural attractions, from the Vienna State Opera to the MuseumsQuartier, its increasingly on-trend fashion scene and its wave of cool cafés, bars and restaurants. So, move over Berlin – make way for Europe’s new capital of cool.
As well as being home to long-established brands such as Ludwig Reiter and Frey Wille, Vienna has also seen the opening of innovative boutiques such as Supersense. The creators of the store were involved in the Impossible Project, which salvaged and resurrected the production of instant film after the closure of Polaroid in 2008. Following its success they decided to open a boutique with similar values. Supersense is not only a store; it is also a recording studio and a workshop. ‘At Supersense, we expanded our passion for analog to further analog technologies such as vinyl recording and letterpress printing,’ says founder Florian Kaps. The store offers, he adds, a ‘magic, holistic, multi-sensory and intimate experience which is now quite rare in our digital world.’
Old meets new
Supersense is housed in a Venetian palazzo-style building that dates back to 1898 – it is a haven of eccentricity that looks more like a museum or a gallery than a shop. Which is entirely the point. Supersense wants its customers to take their time to discover the products on offer and learn how they might enrich their lives.
‘Our place may be described as a cabinet of wonders,’ Kaps explains. You explore it at your own speed, he says, rather than being instantly impressed with it as a concept store. From recording music in the studio to printing their own posters, customers are encouraged to get involved in the creation of their own unique products before heading to the on-site café to sample a Tyrolean craft beer.
Passion for fashion
Wall is another unique and intriguing store in the city of cool. It was initially intended to combine a hair salon with a fashion store, but the fashion element gradually took over, showcasing brands such as Henrik Vibskov, Barbara I Gongini and Vienna’s Brandmair, and expanding to include books, photography and jewellery. Andreas Wall from the store is quick to emphasise Vienna’s hip status. ‘Vienna is getting better and better! A lot of cool things are happening here and Vienna is, step by step, becoming a hotspot for fashion,’ he says. ‘There is a whole new generation growing up in Vienna in a multicultural society and this brings along great new influences and innovative concepts. I think the charm of Vienna is the mixture of old and new. I don’t know any other city where this works out as well.’
Roberto Pavlovic from Roberto American Bar has similar views. Acknowledged as one of Vienna’s best bartenders, he runs an intimate space serving a delicious array of cocktails, and he is proud of the city. ‘Vienna is definitely heating up in every aspect,’ Pavlovic says. He points out that the city celebrates a great combination of the arts and that young, innovative people are creating new outlets for modern art and music and great new restaurants and bars. His own bar is a must-visit on a cool Vienna tour, for its relaxed, positive atmosphere. ‘Everybody who works at the bar is chosen because of their social skills,’ he explains. He says they treat everyone with respect and are always welcoming. ‘I put a team together that loves what they do and the guests can feel and see that,’ he adds.
Pavlovic’s neighbour Nicole Doleh at Inked concept store, another centre of cool, has a similar outlook. ‘I think it’s all about personality,’ she says. ‘What makes you stand out in a group? Being different. I am, and my staff are very outgoing, happy and interested in what is going on in the world – not just about fashion.’ They are, she says, ‘a small gang who care and like to share good stuff.’ This philosophy appeals to visitors from within Vienna and from overseas. As Doleh says, ‘fashion can be interaction’.
Another hipster hangout that encourages interaction and a community vibe is Radlager, a café that also stocks cycles from Moulton and Faggin Bikes and cycling footwear from Quoc. Christoph Kletzer, one of the store’s founding partners, thinks that what sets Vienna apart is the fact that it offers a different kind of cool to the German capital. ‘On the one hand Vienna is more old-school and bourgeois than Berlin – there is a lot of old money and a grand imperial tradition here, whereas in Berlin you still get the sense of quite a young capital. On the other hand, Vienna has only very recently found its voice in the choir of hip cities, so there is a still a certain freshness about it. I really do think that Vienna is the place to be right now!’