2020 is a tough cookie for most of us in the art world and beyond. But the good part is that it changed all our patterns like no year before and somehow still spirited us to embrace new ideas.
This is also the case for Austria-based publishing house VFMK, brave enough to not only overcome all those 2020 obstacles, but daring to go for another bold statement – opening a physical shop in the heart of Vienna just a few weeks back.
We spoke to the ladies behind it all, Silvia Jaklitsch and Dajana Dorfmayr, and hands down, this new project will make you want to fly over to Vienna (at least virtually… sigh!) straight away.
How did you and your team manage to stay sane during this weird 2020?
We fought the virus with our thoughts, acting in opposition to it mentally, while we were extremely productive in our home offices. We started implementing new ideas we had been bubbling over with since the beginning of the year 2020. Several events had been planned for 2020—design, book, and art fairs in London, San Francisco, and Bad Gastein—all of which were canceled one after the other. Conceptually, we decided to keep going, constantly sorting things out, adapting relevant content, seeing about what would be useful at the moment and for the coming year 2021. During the first lockdown we found out about this beautiful vacant store designed by the artist Andreas Fogarasi (he designed the space itself, Florent Souly the shop interior), and off we went with everything.
What have been your most sought-after items during this year (online and in the store)?
It has been great to see that our range of selected “Books”—we also offer titles by publishers like starfruit publications, Phaidon, Suhrkamp, or Matthes Seitz—is received as enthusiastically as our range of “Goods.” Naturally, the heart is the most appealing product, as it speaks to people directly. A simple message.
What is your ultimate dream collab for a product?
SNOOP DOG! Well, hard to say, as we planned to span our collabs from the unknown artist we love and whom we wish to offer an opportunity to established fashion designers and artists. From local interveners to international exchanges… So let’s say… hum, hum… Fräulein Müller from Margareten and John Doe from Australia… Monsieur Dupont and Ize Ikaye.
You were brave enough to open a shop just a few weeks back. How did you come up with that and how have things started off so far?
To keep things going and to have some fun at the beginning of the first lockdown, we decided to open a concept store in Vienna… and to come back to your first question, this was probably insane enough…
The thing with the store came up because its previous owner decided she was ready for something new, and her wonderful store was suddenly up for rent. It is located in the Freihausviertel, one of Vienna’s trendsetting urban neighborhoods, with galleries (Kargl, König), fancy restaurants, and laid-back bars (Die Herknerin, Anzengruber, Xeno Bar), the world’s finest flower shop (Blumenkraft), and one of Vienna’s best coffee roasters (Naber Kaffee). It was a spontaneous decision, and very easy for us. We had wanted to present our titles in an in-house bookstore for a very long time. We took off quite successfully but were forced to close after three to four weeks. For this reason, we got down to work, establishing a new World Wide Web page to complement our clientele of local customers. The creative potential of our team was activated, it was fun work! We are currently working on a new window decoration, which, if everything works out, will be ready for the coming weeks before Christmas.
What to gift our art girls squad this Christmas?
Definitely the heart towel! For good vibes. As a message of love, or just for fun. For cuddling up to and wrapping oneself in after a bath or at the sauna, as a play mat for babies or a picnic blanket with a pretty and practical handle to carry around. When you think about it, most of our articles have something romantic or poetic about them. And if she or he really means such a lot to you, make it a package of various items combined. We offer free shipping.
People who love … (brands, artists, books, songs, galleries…), also will love your shop?
People with a sense of humor and good style will love our appealing, handcrafted items—similar to Amazon, we can tell that people who have always bought pretty home textiles, museum tickets, and fashion magazines will love our whole product range.
What is your favorite customer like?
In fact, people who have a new approach to things, who like to collect objects and moments. We offer items for a broad clientele through our choice of selected objects. From kitschy handmade Egyptian Christmas glass ornaments decorated with pure gold to Azerbaijani socks, from the latest high-tech objects from Japan to some artisanal handcrafted baskets from Lower Austria… and books, books, books!
And, of course, we love it when people pop in and definitely know what they WANT TO HAVE NOW!