Vienna, Austria

Nadja Zerunian and Peter Weisz founded their eponymous design studio, zerunianandweisz, in Vienna, Austria in 2016. Together, the Vienna natives explore the potential roles of traditionally handmade objects within the contemporary design world.

The designers first met socially in Vienna. Since 2013, however, Zerunian and Weisz have served as pro-bono experts for the Erste Foundation’s Roma Partnership Program. This project was the first to bring the pair together on a professional level. Collaborating with Roma craftsmen across Romania, they aim to revive the handicraft culture of the area at the same time that they create objects with a decidedly contemporary aesthetic—often equal parts elegant and humorous. As they describe it: “Our challenge is to remove sentimentality and melancholy from handicraft. We revive an ancient craft, contextualize handmade products and vintage design icons to build a connection to the contemporary world.”

zerunianandweisz debuted their first limited edition collection, entitled 7000 Blows, at Vienna’s Rauminhalt Gallery in 2016. The handmade series is composed of copper, silver, and brass, complemented by found treasures. Together, the designers tells us, the new and found objects “create small, sensual landscapes, based on the traditional competence of the Caldarari, a Roma community in Transylvania, working for centuries in metal crafts. It takes 7,ooo rhythmic blows and 70 times in the fire until the final shape evolves. The result: a collection of product-landscapes that examine material, an ancient craft, and a new cultural reference.”

Zerunian was born in 1964 in Vienna; she studied design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna under Ernst Caramelle, earning her Bachelor’s degree in 1990. She fine-tuned her skills in master classes with Carl Auböck in 1991 and Ron Arad in 1993. After school, she worked as a senior designer for nearly a decade at Calvin Klein in New York before going on to work as creative director at Georg Jensen and then the Swatch Group. She divides her time between the US and Vienna.

Designer, editor, and master tailor Peter Weisz was born in 1967 in Vienna. He earned his Master Craftsman’s Diploma from HBLA [Higher Secondary School] for Fashion and Clothing Technology Michelbeuern in Vienna in 1987. Over the course of his career, Weisz has designed for Gloriette, Boos, Original Salzburger, and Josef von Watzdorf. As an editor he has worked for Brigitte Austria, AHEAD, Wiener, and Seitenblicke Magazin, among others. He was also fashion director and stylist for The Schaufenster (Die Presse), Diva, and Attitude. In addition to his work for zerunianandweisz, he designs his own model line and conceives interior designs.

As of this writing, zerunianandweisz is collaborating with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization as creative experts for the Creative Mediterranean project in Lebanon and Algeria.