The City Works is a contemporary souvenirs brand based in Vienna, founded by Sylvia Moritz and Rowan Ottesen in 2015. Each city collection is carefully researched and intricately drawn, with a variety of items made using the designs. Everything is designed in-house and made within the European Union.
After studying Graphic Design in her native Austria, The City Works founder Sylvia Moritz says that moving to London to study Design at UAL is where it all began. During her studies Sylvia started printmaking and created etchings inspired by London. She went on to set up the City Works with co-founder Rowan Ottesen on her 25th birthday.
What course did you study at UAL?
We both studied Graphic Design BA (Hons) at Camberwell College of Arts.
What’s your fondest memory from your time at UAL?
It’s nice to remember heading up to the top floor of the campus, where the screen-printing and etching studios were. There were times when it was quiet and you felt like you had the whole place to yourself. Graduating will also always last in my memory.
How did your company come about?
Sylvia had recently finished a stint at a design studio called MultiAdaptor. She had been inspired by illustrators who had started setting up their own independent brands and selling products with their designs, like Rifle Paper Co by Anna Bond. She had made some cards with her intricate city designs, and as the wheels began turning. We barely made rent for the first few months but once we found our feet, things were a little more consistent.
What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?
Our latest collection, ‘Hello World’, is inspired by landmarks from all over the world. It’s amazing to see how each country has its own distinct architectural achievements that somehow captures the essence of that place. London’s Big Ben, Sydney’s Opera House. Seeing them all together is something we’ve always wanted to draw.
What purchase have you currently got your eye on?
We’re currently looking for a new, larger studio space!
Where is your most inspiring place in London?
We find the Skygarden really inspiring. The idea of a tropical mini-forest on top of a skyscraper is really refreshing. Although we haven’t visited since moving to Vienna a few years ago, we have really fond memories of letting our mind wander through the interesting trees.
What advice would you give current students hoping to start their own business?
Firstly we would say that, based on our experiences, it’s definitely possible to become self-employed and make it work, even without much money to begin with. A difficult, but important thing to do, is to find a unique aspect of your business and emphasise it. It helps you to stand out from other similar businesses, and makes people notice and care about what you do. In our case there were already people drawing cities, but we drew them bigger, better, bolder, more intricately and with more variety.
What’s next for your brand?
In early 2019 we’ll be attending Paperworld in Frankfurt, and moving ahead with a number of new city collections, including Barcelona, Tokyo and Sydney and maybe Copenhagen.