Alice Stori Liechtenstein with Traces of Lightby Tamara Barrage and Studio Comploj.
Photo: Lippzahnschirm

How a 12th-Century Austrian Castle Became an Unlikely Design Destination

At Schloss Hollenegg, Alice Stori Liechtenstein is fostering a new generation of talent with a design residency and themed exhibitions

A stately 12th-century castle in eastern Austria may seem an unlikely destination for the international design set, yet Schloss Hollenegg has become just that. Located two and a half hours south of Vienna in the small village of Hollenegg, the living museum of sorts hosts a residency program and an annual themed exhibition curated by ascending design-world darling Alice Stori Liechtenstein.

A view of the Renaissance courtyard at Schloss Hollenegg in Austria. Photo: Robyn Lea

Born in Milan and raised in Bologna, Italy, Liechtenstein, who holds a master’s degree in public-space design from Barcelona’s Elisava School of Design and Engineering, moved to Austria in the early aughts after meeting her now husband, Alfred Lichtenstein. Their 21,500-square-foot, 52-room castle has been in his family for two centuries, and in the eight years since she reintroduced the space as Schloss Hollenegg for Design, it has lured a creative community with a program that explores heady ideas ranging from metamorphosis to the benefits of slowing down and the table’s role as a communal gathering place.

Included in the recent “Ashes & Sand” exhibition were Life and Death by Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen. Photo: Lippzahnschirm

For this year’s exhibition, “Ashes & Sand,” which ran through May, Liechtenstein collaborated with Rainald Franz, curator of the glass and ceramics collection at the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) in Vienna, to display a variety of glassworks—an apt material considering Austria’s illustrious history in the medium. “Ashes & Sand” included pieces by 25 emerging designers, five of whom were in residence last year. “I thought it was a little bit kitschy,” Liechtenstein admits of her initial reaction to the topic. “But as I got to researching, I totally got into it. The design and art components are so intertwined; there’s a lot of innovation.”

“We are fostering a community of creatives, and we are doing it in an unusual place”

Alice Stori Liechtenstein

In addition to spending three weeks living in and exploring a castle filled with generations of museum-quality treasures, such as Venetian glass from the 1800s and antique chandeliers by Lobmeyr, participants in the most recent Schloss Hollenegg residency visited local glass studios and an archaeological site where glass was made in the 18th and 19th centuries. From that experience, the Copenhagen-based duo Christian+Jade crafted a deep-green glass wine fountain, crafted from sand left over from construction of a tunnel on the property.

Included in the recent “Ashes & Sand” exhibition was the Oz lamp by Luca Gruber, which illuminates the ballroom. Photo: Lippzahnschirm

Other standouts at this year’s exhibition include Canadian designer Sarah Roseman’s knitted and embroidered glass tapestries inspired by Renaissance imagery at the schloss and 3D printed glass pieces by Julia Koerner, founder of JK3D, a company pioneering 3D printed decor and fashion. (She made the headpieces worn by Angela Bassett in the Black Panther films.) “I wanted to show a diverse selection of glassworks and was really happy to see how the designers quickly caught onto that,” says Liechtenstein.

The next group, arriving in July, will contemplate wood as a material, visiting local carpenters and sawmills and attending workshops and lectures on topics ranging from the effects of climate change to the role of wood in architecture. Unlike previous residents, this year’s talents will work alongside their production partners while in Austria to create the pieces that will be exhibited at the schloss next year.

View of the 12th-century castle where Liechtenstein houses the Schloss Hollenegg for Design. Photo: Leonhard Hilzensauer

Ultimately, Liechtenstein sees Schloss Hollenegg for Design as an enabler. “We are fostering a community of creatives, and we are doing it in an unusual place,” says Liechtenstein, who notes all the prototypes created by Schloss Hollenegg residents remain at the property, contributing to the ancestral family home. “There are so many historical objects here,” she muses. “What we’re doing is adding the 21st century to the collection.”

A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Summer Issue under the headline “Living Legend.” Subscribe to the magazine.

Cover: Alice Stori Liechtenstein with Traces of Lightby Tamara Barrage and Studio Comploj.
Photo: Lippzahnschirm


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