There are no rules in the world of luxury except that everything goes. The people who work with this clientele don’t sell a mere product, but provide an experience and a certain identity

by Dardis McNamee & Janima Nam

Interior Designer

A truly beautiful room, Philip Hohenlohe will tell you, pays homage to classic values –proportion, clarity, harmony, intimacy.

“The sense of intimacy is paramount,” he said on a recent afternoon in his apartment in the 3rd district. “And warmth.”  Which perfectly captures the feel of this handsome, yet cozy sitting room, with its magical mixture of classic and contemporary that defines European style. It is also the elusive quality that defines his website gallery at

After 20 years and a successful interior design business in New York, Hohenlohe came back to Vienna in 2001. It was a difficult transition. It’s hard to be invisible as a Hohenlohe – a German-Austrian family of knighthood and nobility dating back to the 12th century. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to launch a business, especially in a creative field.

“It was very hard coming here at first,” he remembered. “New York was a little island with an enormous amount of money.” Vienna… well, “it’s not in the Viennese tradition to be sensual.” His heritage did give him a sense of history, something Hohenlohe sees as essential to good design.

Now, a decade later, Philip Hohenlohe Design Vienna is prospering, and he is working on his second show at the Dorotheum, “Selected by Philip Hohenlohe,” opening March 2, 2017, combining pieces from private owners and dealers with the auction house’s own collection.

Central to the effect is the role of light. “Lighting should never be democratic – never this horrible office light, where it is always midday. You need a variety of tones, some light, and some
dark. Like the moods of a human being, there needs to be some mystery.” It’s about mood, atmosphere. “Without this, design means nothing.”

And it’s not necessarily about money. True luxury is understated.  “Elegance can also be unpretentious. If you do it right, even if it’s expensive, that’s not what you notice.

“Only that it works.”

The great architects and designers have always built on ‘historicism’, on copying ideas from the past, before they went somewhere else.