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Stefan Sagmeister Reveals Vienna’s Design Secrets

The graphic design star says the Austrian capital achieves “the perfect balance between young pips and old farts.”

Welcome to Wanderlust, a weekly series on Co.Design where some of our favorite designers share their secret picks and insider tips for the best design cities on the planet. We asked New York-based graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister to take a break from designing album covers for the likes of Lou Reed and OK Go and tell us about the one design city will never leave his heart: Vienna.

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What’s your favorite design city, and why?

I was tempted to either pick the obvious like Barcelona, Amsterdam, or Tokyo or go for the more hidden treasures like Tehran, Quito, or Beirut. Ultimately, though, I chose the city that I studied in: Vienna. Why? Because Vienna right now manages to achieve a delightful equilibrium between the contemporary and the historic, between young pips and old farts.

Where do you like to stay when you’re there?

If I want the view, I go to the Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom. Like most descriptive hotel names, it’s nowhere close to the Stephansdom, but it does have the most spectacular views of all of Vienna. And I can run up and down the Donaukanal (Danube Canal) by just walking out the door. If I need to stay close to City Center, though, I am at the Hotel Ambassador, directly on Kaertnerstrasse. There is no ambassador there either.

Where do you like to eat?

At the Cafe Landtmann. It’s rather touristy during the day, so I like to go in the evening when the booths in the back are quiet. The food is delicious, the cakes delightful, and the walls absolutely gorgeous.

Breakfast at the Hotel Sofitel Vienna am Stephansdom. Flickr user Torsten Maue

What design destinations do you visit?

The MAK, the Belvedere Palace and Musem, and the Museumsquartier. That usually keeps me busy for a couple of days. Also, the Albertina Museum right now is showing a giant exhibit of one of my favorite Austrian artists, Arnulf Rainer. But if you miss it, dont worry: you can easily get to the Arnulf Rainier Museum in Baden from Vienna.

Do you have any good tips for people going there interested in design?

Visit the excellent store SUPERSENSE at Praterstrasse 70, a “gourmet food store for the senses.” Also, sartorialists should make sure to visit the nearby fashion store, Song.