Design & Decoration S03 ep7 : Stefan Rath Lobmeyer, Lobmeyer Glass, [Vienna]
Interview with Stefan Rath Lobmeyer
Lobmeyr is working steadily on a contemporary interpretation of glass, always in the awareness of the own tradition. The interest in glass, practiced in our daily work, and the dialogue with our artisans, designers and customers have time and again led to innovations. In 1835, Josef Lobmeyr equipped the table of the imperial court with the "prism cut drinking set" and received the title of a "Purveyor to the Imperial and Royal Court". The plain drinking set No. 4 by Ludwig Lobmeyr from 1856 can be found in many current design bibles. With the drinking set from 1905, Stefan Rath revisited the Viennese Baroque. The muslin drinking glass set by Josef Hoffmann was created together with designers of the Vienna Workshop. In 1929, the drinking set No. 248 by Adolf Loos anticipated the shape of a plain chalice that is valid to this day. "Ambassador" and the spherical boxes by Oswald Härdtle received the Grand Prix of the International Jury at the "Art Deco" exhibition in Paris in 1925. In 2007, Ted Muehling subtly combined style elements of different epochs in his chalice set.
In reality it’s a small family based company producing chandeliers, stand … and mirrors.
It started off as a small shop in C… in Vienna a few hundred metres from where our shop now is
based. It’s main business was trade in glass the owner he came from a small town in upper Austria
and soon after raised the attention of the Imperial Court and had a chance to design what was our
first table set for the Imperial table and this is now still used by the government for important
dinners of State.
In fact we are Lobmeyers as the second generation died without a male heir and so the company
was inherited to the son of one of the daughters which married Rath so we as Rath are the direct
line of the Lobmeyers.
The fifth generations our fathers all were brothers which grew up in the same building having the
same mother, the same father, from what I heard and what my cousins told and my uncles, they
were kind of brats.
We as cousins we lacked this too close familiar contact so we are one generation removed from
that core and that keeps us from being too close to lose the eye for the real situation.
Having grown up here in this building with all the company and all the workshops going around so
the sound of my childhood while I was sitting in the sand box and building my castles was the
hammer of the blacksmith on the anvil flattening out the baroque chandeliers.
I was lucky to have a kind of a tinkering mentality so I’m quite good with tools, I have like a three
dimensional perspective and can visualise things and the real education I then got was on the
University of Business Administration in Vienna.
I think I was 16 or 17, he took me to the side and said well boy, now it’s to decide, you want to go
in there or you don’t want to, I said well I do want and that was it maybe.
We started again in Austria after the World War with some of the biggest companies and all we
switched and have been with one specific company for a period of more than 30 years which
unfortunately went out of business just about the time when we three cousins, the 6th generation
took over the business and were faced with the problem of finding new production facilities. From
then on we not focus on one company doing all our sets, our glasses.
We’re like book publishers where we have designers, so just say authors, we have the
manufacturers and craftsmen so just speak the printer and the binder and we have therefore the
liability or the possibility to pick manufacturers based on the specifications of a given design.
Designing a very sensible items you have to be very close to the soul and the technical interface of
a computer and then the very sophisticated program you are very far from the actual soul of the
person designing it and our stuff lives very much from the energy coming in from the people so we
have the designer giving in his the flow from his wrist so to speak, we have our own energy as the
traders and the selectors of designers and producers and last but not least the actual craftsman on
the oven on the wheel, on the hammer who also puts in his soul, his human factor and this human
factor is the thing Lobmeyer is about in a way.
We equally have the same responsibilities. We all have our fields of expertise and for sure we have
also some, some defined fields where we all decide together but with selecting designers which
would be Leonit’s responsibility in the glass business, I then take care of the chandeliers and
Andreas then he’s the main guy of our own showrooms in Vienna and Salzburg and also takes care
of our stock on merchandise we have from other companies like N… or H… porcelain.
My cousin Leonit just told me once that he was very eager to work with a specific New York
designer. He never dared to approach and when we had started our trading and retailing
experiment in New York with Mary Moss and … there was an event where he just ran into this
specific designer and got his contact and when he then called him the other day, Ted M… was
saying ah nice you called at last.
When one of the big blocks of the Imperial Palace in Vienna burnt down some 12 or 15 years ago
we saw it on the early evening news, realising that they are our chandeliers in there and in the late
evening news, some two hours later, I saw my father on the smoking ruins of the building looking
for pieces of chandeliers.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Stefan Rath Lobmeyer, Lobmeyer Glass, Vienna