NDU Summer School Stone design: stone carving at the forefront

© WKNÖParticipation in the workshop: From left: WKNÖ director Johannes Schedlbauer, vice-rector Johannes Zederbauer, workshop participant Valeria Stecher, rector Herber Grüner, WKNÖ president Wolfgang Ecker, Daniel Zeisner and dean Neil Harkess.

The art of stonemasonry and the associated traditional crafts have a long tradition in Austria. In 2020, UNESCO added this special craft technique to the list of intangible cultural assets (www.unesco.at). This craft technique was also celebrated at New Design University as part of the “Summer School Stone Design” workshop. From 05.-16. In collaboration with the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Crafts, traditional craftsmanship was merged with modern design. Working with local stonemasons, workshop participants explored how stone can be used in unexpected and innovative ways for product and interior design. The course was also supported by the Masons’ Guild and the Lower Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

A total of 12 people from nine European countries participated in the Stone Design Summer School, which took place for the first time in this form. The participants came from different disciplines such as architecture, visual arts or restoration and, as part of the two-week workshop, developed innovative design objects and prototypes for “product and interior design made of stone in living spaces – inside and out”. “We are particularly pleased that New Design University, together with the Michelangelo Foundation, gives young creative people the opportunity to reinterpret old handicrafts,” says Rector Herbert Grüner.

While practicing the craft

© Selma Agovic Old craftsmanship meets creative ideas

Local stones recovered

“With the unique workshop, the Summer School Stone Design wants to demonstrate the diversity and sustainability of Austrian stone and bring the art of stone carving closer together with design,” explains Daniel Zeisner, initiator of the workshop and head of the university course “Product Design” at NDU. Together with sculptor Judith Wagner, Steinmetzbetriebe Breitwieser GmbH and Schreiber & Partner Natursteine, Mr. Zeisner introduced the participants to local stones such as sandstone from St. Margarethen, Krastaler marble or Waldviertler gneiss. “These stones from the region are ideal for high quality products and architecture. Thanks to their diverse appearance and properties, they are a sustainable alternative to other materials,” says Zeisner about the importance of the diversity of local stones. The stone used in the workshop was provided free of charge by the stonemason and quarry company Hummel from St. Margarethen.

Old craftsmanship meets creative ideas

In an intensive exchange with stonemasons from the region, the participants designed their drafts digitally and then – equipped with files, rasps and hammers – implemented them in NDU’s workrooms. This is how unique masterpieces were created, such as: stone tables, lamps, indoor rock gardens and sculptural bookshelves made of solid stone. By combining digital tools with analog craftsmanship, traditional processing can be successfully combined with excellent design. WKNÖ president and master stonemason Wolfgang Ecker was also convinced of the results of the workshop during a visit to NDU and emphasized the importance of stonemasonry for Lower Austria as a place of business: “In Lower Austria, there are currently 170 member companies. With a lot of creativity, they create unique crafts for all areas of life, not just tombstones. Stonemasons are also experts in interior and exterior design and restoration. This makes them ideal partners for individual building projects and also particularly attractive as training companies. The four-year apprenticeship “Stonemasonry” builds both on (three -year-old) acquisition of traditional craftsmanship and computerized stoneworking using CAD drawings and CNC programs.”

Finished artwork

© Selma Agovic Unique works of art were created as part of the Summer School Stone Design

About New Design University

The new design university St. Pölten (NDU) was founded in 2004 by the Lower Austrian Chamber of Commerce and its WIFI. As an international and close-to-life place for demanding educations in design, technology and business, NDU educates creative minds who drive change in society and are already dealing with the work and design processes of the future today.

About the Michelangelo Foundation

The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is a Geneva-based non-profit institution that supports contemporary artisans worldwide to promote a more humane, inclusive and sustainable future. The foundation aims to emphasize the connection between handicrafts and the wider world of art and design. It is dedicated to celebrating and preserving craft and its diversity of makers, materials and techniques by increasing the appreciation of craft in everyday life and its viability as a career path for generations to come.
With dedicated educational programs such as the summer school, the digital project Homo Faber Guide and the international exhibition Homo Faber Event, the foundation promotes a cultural movement centered on artisan masters and rising stars.

Finished artwork

© Selma Agovic Unique works of art were created as part of the Summer School Stone Design

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