The Victor Papanek Archive and Library consists of a diverse range of materials reflecting the work and life of Victor Papanek. The archive includes photographs, drawings, documents, and objects, ranging from the 1950s to the 1990s relating to the course of Papanek’s successful career as a designer, teacher, and author.

The archive is accompanied by an extensive library covering a wide range of themes and topics, which are searchable in the University of Applied Arts Vienna’s Library Catalogue. The collection provides insight into Papanek’s concepts and theories, his working processes and approach to design from the perspective of social responsibility.

As the Papanek Library is an archival library, books are not available for borrowing, photocopying, or scanning. We kindly request that general readers, particularly those who wish to scan or photocopy material for general reference, first consult the larger lending libraries for availability of their requested items.

Readers interested in specific contents of the archive library are welcome to book a reading appointment (Monday-Tuesday) after consultation of the library catalogue.

Research & Access

The Papanek Foundation archive is not open to the general public, but does welcome qualified guest researchers by appointment only for specifically identified research purposes. All appointments must be requested in writing and reservations should be made as much in advance as possible, as study space is limited. 

All requests for access should include full name, address, telephone number, institutional affiliation, basic research outline and reason for request.  

The Papanek Foundation loans works from the Papanek Archive and Library to national and international exhibitions coordinated by prestigious museums and institutions. Loans to individuals or commercial entities are not possible. All loans are subject to the discretion of the Papanek Foundation, requiring a written request and contractual agreement.

Email enquiries:

Mail enquiries:
Victor Papanek Foundation
University of Applied Arts Vienna
Oskar-Kokoschka-Platz 2
1010 Vienna

Victor Papanek

Victor Papanek during filming of WNED-TV Channel 17's series "Design Dimensions" in Buffalo, New York, 1961-63 © University of Applied Arts Vienna, Victor J. Papanek Foundation

Victor J. Papanek (1923–1998) designer, educator, and author, was born in Vienna, Austria escaping to the United States in 1939 following the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi Germany. Educated at the Cooper Union New York in architectural design, Papanek claimed to have apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1940s as well as working briefly with fellow Austrian émigré architect Frederick Kiesler. Early on in his career Papanek became a follower and ally of Buckminster Fuller who wrote the preface to the first English language edition of Papanek’s widely read and seminal publication Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change (1971). The book’s ground-breaking ideas and uncompromising critique of contemporary, profit-driven design culture initially divided the design community. Ultimately, however, the polemic was an enormous success: translated into over twenty languages and published globally, it remains one the most widely read design books to date and has never fallen out of print.

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