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Art meets life in V-ZUG’s latest studio

Located in the gallery precinct of Vienna’s historic old town, the V-ZUG brand display team set out to do something different for a new market, and the outcome is breathtaking.

Art meets life in V-ZUG’s latest studio


February 9th, 2024

It’s hard to know where to start with V-ZUG’s new Vienna studio. The incredible barrel vaulted ceiling? The company’s signature products liberated from cabinetry and hung like art on the wall? The subtle local references in the furniture and furnishing selections? The inverted active kitchen that rethinks this space to create even more immersive events? And how so many inputs and influences can result in a minimalist space… that nonetheless feels rich and warm?

Perhaps it’s easiest to start at the start, when Gabriel Castello, V-ZUG’s Global Interior Art Director walked into the as-good-as derelict ground floor of an 18th Century building in Vienna’s art gallery district in 2022 and said “This is it!” Which makes the project even more remarkable – that he could see past the rising damp and crumbling plaster to create a space that expresses a pureness of design vision and is a quiet joy to experience. Much like the V-ZUG products themselves.

But not everyone was immediately convinced, including Thomas Felber, Sales Director for Austria: “After the first visit in these premises it was almost unimaginable. But I trusted Gabriel and his big vision, and step-by-step I saw the philosophy gathering. It was amazing to see what is possible when you have the motivation and the creativity.”

Castello’s interior design vision is an important pillar of the company’s international expansion strategy, where each new studio is a critical gateway experience for customers to discover the brand and its products, which seamlessly forge timeless aesthetics and technical innovation. Two keywords used in the conceiving of each space are evolution and adaptation; evolution in not wanting to create the same showroom experience again and again, and always wanting to improve; and adaptation in considering each city’s architecture and culture, to give a space a local flavour.

Both are evident in Vienna. After using a darker palette in London and Paris, Castello and his team had been looking for an opportunity to use lighter hues as a means to showcase the new pearl finish of the company’s excellence range. The result is still as elegant as ever, but replaces the moodier atmosphere of earlier studios with a serenity that Castello says matches the tone of Vienna; it also echoes the paler shades of stone to be found in city’s historic buildings.

Another evolution was changing how the Combair ovens, CombiSteamers and WineCoolers were displayed in the main area of the studio. Either set on plinths or floating on the wall, the rooms feels more art installation than showroom, and is the next iteration of a display approach that was explored at Salone in 2022 in a collaboration with Elissa Ossino. The effect is deliberate and reflects Castello’s frequent journeys to the limits of retail design, but where he is under no illusion that his job is to sell product.

“This space is full of product but you don’t feel it is full of product. You feel like you’ve got a super open space, like a loft space or gallery, a very minimalistic approach and the lines are super clean”

One of the ways that Castello and his team solved that problem was to reconfigure the active kitchen space, which is where V-ZUG’s Gourmet Academy team can be found running cooking demonstrations and events. Typically ovens and fridges are set behind a large island workbench; Castello had been wanting to toy with this convention for some time, and his determination to keep the main area as clean as possible to celebrate lines of the timeless arches justified a re-think of the active kitchen. The products have therefore emerged from behind the island to be visible from every angle in the room and displayed in a bank of cabinetry which also acts as a partition wall between the working kitchen and the design collaboration spaces.

The chefs are only taking a few more steps from bench to oven but instead of turning away from their audience, they walk as if across a stage, adding an element of theatre to the V-ZUG experience. And what is now behind the island? An artwork that is a hugely pixelated interpretation of the famous tiered seating of the Vienna Opera House. It’s one of a number of subtle references to the city that have been incorporated into the space, including classic Thonet chairs, and which reflect the ‘adaptation’ approach where each V-ZUG studio has a character of its own that draws on key touchstones in each location.

Castello points to the locally-produced ceramics by feinedinge as an example of this process, “To be honest, this is not my personal taste, but after spending time in this city, you start to change your mind. You become more like a local and these things start to make sense.”

“I think it looks beautiful and I love it. It’s super good quality, and I love also that it’s a small company, like us. It’s the same for all the chairs, the fabrics, the carpets – all the things we put in the showroom always come from companies sharing the same values as us,” Castello adds.

Felber expands the notion of balancing of values, commenting that “This is the difference between us and our competitors. We are a small family company with a flat hierchary. Today, we work hard to bring simplicity to your home and creativity to your kitchen, believing that time is the most important thing, and each one of us should focus on the essential: sharing, hosting, living”.

“We can now demonstrate these qualities perfectly in the new masterpiece in the heart from Vienna in the first district. With the opening of the studio and the staging of the products, we took home appliances to a new level”.

Castello is more modest about the project and simply says: “We’ve opened a new V-ZUG home in Vienna.”

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