A Designer Who’s a Real Spokesman
Bernhard Angerer/Embacher-Collection/By SANDY KEENAN/Published: July 17, 2013
Michael Embacher, an architectural designer in Vienna, with his collection of bicycles.
Michael Embacher, an architectural designer in Vienna, has amassed one of the most diverse bicycle collections in the world, from racing and street bikes to really curious spiky ones for riding on frozen lakes.
This summer, many of the 230 bicycles normally stored in his attic are on view simultaneously at the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna and at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. In anticipation of “Cyclepedia,” the Portland show, 100 extra bike racks were installed outside the museum and a call went out for a celebratory ride through the streets, clothing optional. Entry that day was $1 per wardrobe item; word is that many entered free.
It was Mr. Embacher’s idea to suspend the bikes from the ceilings of the installations as if in midride, but he is reluctant to glorify these utilitarian products. There are no pampered relics in the shows. Not even the oldest bicycle, from 1922, has been allowed to retire from active street duty. (His down-to-earth attitude didn’t prevent him from releasing a gorgeous companion catalog and iPad app.)
“For me, bicycling is a very intelligent everyday product and so important to the city,” he said by phone from his home and office in the Neubau neighborhood. “It is not how many people can own cars, it is how many rich people are driving bicycles.”
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