Small Businesses With Global Impact Reflect The Ethos Of Innsbruck. Australian travel writer Robert La Bua sees Innsbruck through the products made there.

On first glance, Innsbruck looks to be a fiction-perfect Alpine town where ladies skip down the street in their dirndls, leaving flower petals in their wake, and gentlemen in green Lederhosen burst into song after the first handshake. Well, fairytales are nice, but they are not the reality; yes, there are graceful women in dirndls maintaining the use of lovely traditional attire…but it is only after a few minutes’ conversation that the men start to sing.

Uniden Digital Camera

On first glance, Innsbruck looks to be a fiction-perfect Alpine town where ladies skip down the street in their dirndls, leaving flower petals in their wake, and gentlemen in green Lederhosen burst into song after the first handshake. Well, fairytales are nice, but they are not the reality; yes, there are graceful women in dirndls maintaining the use of lovely traditional attire…but it is only after a few minutes’ conversation that the men start to sing.

The point is that Innsbruck’s historical appearance and preservation of tradition can deceive visitors into thinking this is a place lost in nostalgia. The reality is quite the opposite; Innsbruck is a place where respect for the past and forward thinking toward the future are not mutually exclusive. Behind centuries-old façades of elegant buildings, in the back of the barn on a hillside farm, around the next green hill above the city, there may be a small but renowned company working discreetly to maintain its role as a leader in its field. It’s not the typical tourist who wants to see the inside of a light factory or a chair workshop, but for those visitors who want to gain insight into the soul of Innsbruck, these businesses represent much more than their final products; they embody the essence of Tyrol. It is no coincidence that world leader Med-El, a maker of cochlear implants that help deaf people regain their hearing, has its headquarters in Innsbruck, a city where good design is as highly valued in everyday life as functionality and precision.

Peter Hussl understands these characteristics implicitly. They are evident in every Hussl chair that comes out of the family workshop located in a cowfield in a tiny place called Terfens, just east of Innsbruck. Far from being hobbyists who sell their products to the occasional passerby—the only passersby on the little track that leads to the meadow are four-legged—the quality of Hussl chairs and tables has seen it become a successful enterprise in the production of furniture for hospitals, nursing homes, and other places across Europe where people sit for extended periods and chairs need to be comfortable. Hussl chairs are also found onstage in the magnificent Spanish Hall of Ambras Castle where the audience can watch musicians play their violins, violas, and clarinets while seated in comfort.

Uniden Digital Camera

Bartenbach Lichtlabor, a world leader in the design of lighting solutions for large buildings and public spaces, is another company that well represents Innsbruck’s embrace of modern design and technology. Just outside Innsbruck in its discreet headquarters in Aldrans, Bartenbach engineers go about their business creating light with the assistance of an ingenious device—designed by the same engineers—that simulates the position of the sun at any time of day at any time of year, anywhere on Earth. A scale model of a building is placed under the dome and a computer positions the ‘sun’ so that the team can observe shadows and effects on the building and surrounding area. It is an amazing machine.

People with a particular interest in chairs or light can ask nicely and maybe a private visit to see these examples of Innsbruck ingenuity can be arranged. And why not come home with some well-made chairs and lamps for the living room? And maybe a bell, too, from Grassmayr bell foundry, which has been operated by the Grassmayr family for FIFTEEN generations. From little bells for calling the dog to very large bells for church towers, Grassmayr is considered a world leader in bellmaking. In Innsbruck, though, it is a normal company going about its business in the pursuit of excellence.

medel.com

hussl.at/eng

bartenbach.com/en

grassmayr.at