It’s been said there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.
I’d like to add a third: hipster neighbourhoods. Every city has one, and Austria’s capital, Vienna, is no exception.
Vienna’s version is centered on Praterstrasse, a wide avenue in the city’s Leopoldstadt neighbourhood — a district historically home to Turkish and Balkan immigrants and Orthodox Jews.
While the area is full of trendy restaurants and cafes, art galleries, and boutiques, the neighbourhood’s crown jewel is a place that is hard to categorise.
Supersense is a cafe/recording studio/photo booth/printing press that is indebted to all things vintage and analogue.
I stumbled across Supersense recently while travelling in Austria recently and found myself peeking through the shop’s many curiosities for the better part of an afternoon.
Take a look inside.
When you walk in, you enter the cafe first. It serves high-end coffee roasted in a nearby region, as well as locally-sourced Austrian beer, wine, and butcher meats.
Coffee in the shop is made on a top-of-the-line Slayer espresso machine, which runs for $US22,000 and is 'built to brew for the truly obsessive,' according to Bloomberg News.
The tables and chairs are, of course, made from reclaimed materials, and the bar is fashioned from refashioned American cabinets.
Supersense was founded by Austrian artist Florian Kaps. He is well-known in the photography world for founding The Impossible Project after Polaroid announced that it would close its last instant-film factory in 2008.
Kaps and the Impossible Project took over Polaroid's factory in the Netherlands and began to produce instant film again. It became a huge hit and earlier this year, the company purchased Polaroid.
The idea behind Supersense is to bring unique analogue experiences to customers. This is the largest Polaroid camera in the world.
A vintage Viennese creation, the camera is one of only seven in the world. It takes Polaroids that are 20x24 inches. At nearly $US300 ($AU400) per shot, it's not cheap.
If you don't want to splurge for the biggest Polaroid in the world, this camera takes 8x10 inch Polaroids and will cost you only $US60 ($AU80).
Both cameras are shot on Impossible Project film or 'super rare, matured, original Polaroid film' in colour, black & white, or sepia. Here's what one of the giant Polaroids looks like.
In the late 1800s, Viennese architects were obsessed with Venice, leading Austrian contractor Maximilian Hass and architect Carl Caufal to build a replica of a Venetian Palazzo in 1898. The stucco walls are lined in gold.
The store sells all original cards printed on Supersense's printing presses, made by artist and printer Annamaria Tatu.
You can even have the shop make custom cards on the press or take a private workshop to learn how to use it.
... or practice your calligraphy, this is the place. If you don't trust your handwriting, a calligrapher is on-site to write out your heartfelt letter to a loved one.
One of the strangest offerings in the store is the 'Smell Memory Kit.' Created by Norwegian artist and researcher Sissel Tolaas, the kit features 'abstract' smells that you've never smelled before.
Tolaas is well-known for having created a library of over 7,000 smells stored in glass jars that mimic everything from the everyday to the extraordinary. For a museum show in Germany about World War I, she recreated the smell of mustard gas to evoke the era. Attendees quickly got sick from the stench.
The idea is to break open one of these vials when a moment you want to remember happens. The next time you smell the scent, you will remember the moment.
The store also features a professional 'living room' recording studio complete with recording equipment from the 1970s and a vinyl recording lathe considered to be the best by many audiophiles.
The recording studio features a wide range of vintage guitars, keyboards, and other instruments to use in your recording session.
Lots of famous artists have recorded in the space. Here's American jazz singer/songwriter Gregory Porter recording a set.
I couldn't figure out what these were when I was in the store. I found out later that they are lamp heads made by a local metalsmith.
There's even an old pinball machine that has been customised to take a Polaroid if you get a high score.
We gave it a try for 1€, but sadly did not get anywhere close to the high score. Better luck next time.
The store will let you experiment with turn-of-the-century photographic techniques like wet-plate collodion photographs and tin-types.
There's a message-in-a-bottle maker if you are so inclined. I wasn't on a desert island, so I saved my 5€.
The stores sells a variety of Impossible Project and Polaroid films, or you can have Kaps take a regular-size Polaroid of you in-store for a few dollars.
We opted for the Polaroid. Afterwards, you can decorate the photo with metal or rubber stamps. You also get a card to hold the photo in.
The shop runs special workshops to teach people how to cut their own rubber stamps or linoleum prints. We used the letter stamps they had in store.
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