The latest extraordinary project from design curator Alice Stori Liechtenstein

Ad Mensam

In 2015, design curator Alice Stori Liechtenstein launched Schloss Hollenegg for Design—a residency program and exhibition platform to support emerging designers from around the globe. The program is set in a baroque Austrian castle (which is, fabulously, also Stori Liechtenstein’s family home); and the space opens to the public just once a year to present fresh works from a selection of today’s rising stars.

Schloss Hollenegg celebrates its fourth birthday this year, and its latest exhibition, Ad Mensam—literally translated from Latin as to the table—launches on May 17th. The show features works especially commissioned for exhibition by twenty talented designers, including James Shaw, Dean Brown, Nel Verbeke, Ferréol Babin , Sara Ricciardi, and Katie Stout.

According to Stori Liechtenstein, Ad Mensam explores “the table as a place where we come together, share food, behave, fight, and reunite.” She further explains that the dinner table holds unique value within the home, because it is “a place where rituals play an important role in determining with whom we sit and how, [where] instinctively and traditionally, the rules of sharing food get made.”

On the eve of the opening, Stori Liechtenstein kindly sat down with us to chat.


Anna Carnick: How did you land on Ad Mensam, the theme of this year’s presentation?

Alice Stori Liechtenstein: I believe very much in context, so I always choose themes that have some kind of meaning for the castle. Schloss Hollenegg was always a place where people were welcomed and entertained. It was also a place where rituals played an important role. So I was interested in exploring the rituals at the table. On a more personal level, as I try to teach table manners to my children, they rebel, and that made me question why we sit together at the table for meals and the importance of it. 

Alice Stori Liechtenstein Photo © Federico Floriani
: What makes this year different from past presentations?

ASL: I have the feeling it is more mature—we are all growing! Also, there are more rooms open to the public, and the castle will be open to the public ten days instead of four. 

AC: How do you choose the designers with whom you collaborate each year? And what makes this year’s roster of designers so exciting in your mind?

ASL: I do plenty of research all year round to find exciting designers to work with, but ultimately there has to be a reciprocal understanding and an interest and willingness on the part of the designers to work in a historical context to a conceptual brief.

AC: Tell us about a few of the pieces on display in this year’s show that are especially exciting for you.

ASL: I am particularly proud of the projects of our four designers in residence. OS&OOS have designed two imposing chairs, to bring a futuristic interpretation to the classical concept of “the head of the table.” Nel Verbeke has created a sculptural, arched structure to create a secluded space for a meditative tea ceremony. Katie Stout, together with Augarten, has created and painted a porcelain dinner set of eighteen plates, each with a unique motif that juxtaposes historical shapes such as ribbons with more abstract and primitive ones that need to be observed once the food has been enjoyed. Finally, Katie Scott has worked with Lobmeyr, and—taking into consideration the order in which habitually different spirits are served at a meal—has created a set of drinking glasses each engraved with a different botanical poison. Each poison is also a known antidote to the poison served previously in the drinking order.

For Ad Mensam, OS ∆ OOS designed a contemporary version of the archetypal head-of-the-table chair. ⠀ Photo courtesy of Alice Stori Liechtenstein

: Are there any other particular highlights relating to this year’s presentation we should be sure to observe? 

ASL: This year is the first year that we also had a graphic team and a photographer in residence. We cooperated with Écal to select three creatives—Simone Sandahl, Kaj Lehmann, and Dorothee Dahler—who did Ad Mensam’s corporate identity and are currently working on our catalogue. And it is exciting to be working with both local and international companies such as Logicdata, Lobmeyr, Antoine, and DiSé, who understand the ethos of the project.

AC: Do you still get tingles seeing new contemporary works set against the magnificent, baroque backdrop of the Schloss?

ASL: In the daily routine of every day, I must admit I don’t see the castle anymore. I just see the stairs, the distances, the things that need repair; I only feel the responsibility. But as soon as a visitor arrives, I suddenly realize what an immense privilege it is to live year and how much beauty surrounds me. I love having visitors! 


Thanks so much, Alice! Ad Mensam runs Friday, 17th May 2019 to Monday, 27th May 2019 at Schloss Hollenegg. For more info, click here

  • Words by

    • Anna Carnick

      Anna Carnick

      Anna is Pamono’s Managing Editor. Her writing has appeared in several arts and culture publications, and she's edited over 20 books. Anna loves celebrating great artists, and seriously enjoys a good picnic.

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