rudolf Vienna

“Our designs are not for the short-term” – a visit to rudolf Vienna

Lisa Mladek and Antonia Maedel — both designers at the label rudolf Vienna — won this year’s Accessories Award sponsored by Wien Products at the TAKE FESTIVAL Vienna and are adding to the Wien Products’ cluster STIL.

I am curious what makes this label what is it and how these magnificent designs are created and fix an appointment with the two protagonists at their studio in Vienna’s 23rd District.

Their studio is located on Draschestrasse. As I entere the bright rooms, knitted cushions, blankets and jumpers stacked neatly on tables and shelves, immediately catch my eye. Both designers are in the middle of the final preparations for their latest collection and are already planning a new one for the coming year.

We sit down and they explain what happens in this place and how rudolf Vienna came about.

The Fritsch dyeing factory, located at the same address, is widely known far beyond the city of Vienna and is the No. 1 address when it comes to dyed yarn.

It was here that Lisa Mladek’s father began to experiment with natural colors more than 20 years ago – at a time when sustainability was not fashionable. Meanwhile, the dyeing factory is in high demand among specialists when it comes to yarns dyed with vegetable colors. The family is proud of the certificates that demonstrate their environmental friendliness and result in goods produced on a sustainable basis.

Lisa Mladek grew up in this place, amid the dyes and yarns, studied textile chemistry and then met Antonia Maedel, who she had known before and who had studied Textile Design in London and had developed a great fondness for tailoring, weaving and knitting.

The two went on to found their label rudolf Vienna in 2014. “Why Rudolf?“ I want to know. Lisa Mladek chuckles and tells me that they had tried to find a suitable name to reflect their standards for design, quality and sustainability for weeks, but finally gave up and threw away all their ideas and simply called themselves rudolf Vienna, after both their grandfathers. A great idea – their first collections always paid homage to a great Rudolf – and there have been many to choose from the Austria’s imperial Habsburg dynasty. Even today, their products bear names with references to Vienna.

The wool for their home collection and their knitted jumpers (for the first time, there are also unisex models that can also be worn by men) is organic-certified merino wool, dyed with organic colors at the in-house dyeing factory.

The range of vegetable dyes is wide and during a tour through the dyeing factory I get a short introduction into the world of organic dyes which are made from things such as the common madder, Reseda, indigo and logwood, among others. An in-house laboratory ensures the dyed yarns meet all the necessary standards and that they have exactly the shade desired. The two entrepreneurs have very strict views – they combine traditional artisan crafts with cutting-edge technology, thus creating products that are always up there with the latest trends.

Sustainability is a key issue for them – they create all their prototypes themselves in their workshop. To do this, Antonia Maedel uses knitting and sewing machines, in addition to an old loom – she is the expert in making tangible objects from the design patterns – while Lisa Mladek is responsible for the materials and dyeing. Their models are produced in small Austrian workshops within a 150 km radius of Vienna.

“This is something we decide from collection to collection,” the two designers explain – depending on the material and processes involved, they cooperate with different partners who work in traditional handcrafts and can ensure the quality expected. Then, there are enthusiasts who meet as a group to knit on a regular basis and who are responsible for the hand-knitted caps and turbans by rudolf Vienna. Leftover material is never wasted but transformed into buttons and fringes by a partner company. This is also sustainable business.

The two designers think far into the future with their products. “We don’t design short-lived trends – our products are durable and have everything it takes to become classics. Silk and unbleached linen are also used, in addition to wool. They have these materials specially made by a weaving mill in Vienna. The models are definitely attractive and not made for just one season.

We are back in the showroom – their home collection in front me.  A mix of gray, black and white creates exciting, geometric patterns reminiscent of the Wiener Werkstätte.  Recently, the two were to be found at the Wien Products joint booth at the Maison et Objet in Paris. Now, it’s the Vienna Design Week, where they are cooperating with Die Sellerie, a concept store in Neubau, Vienna‘s 7th District. The two designers will also open their first own rudolf Vienna Shop on Kirchengasse in Vienna’s hip 7th District on  the 9th of November.

I say goodbye to Lisa Mladek and Antonia Maedel – the quality of their designs is definitely worth a visit to the new shop at Kirchengasse 24.