1st September 2015 Viennese coffee has a much-heralded reputation for its aromatic and delicious taste. The brew also appears to have inspirational qualities as well. It was over a coffee at Kleines, the celebrated Vienna Café, that Bernhard Wolf of ROLF Spectacles was first inspired to open the ROLF Boutique. Bernie was attracted to the welcoming shop design, with its original wood front still intact. ROLF is all about the craft of wood, nature and beauty.
Meetings with Bernie’s brothers and the ROLF team, and a bit of detective work ensued, and now the former sign shop is a distinctive bijou boutique, featuring the entire collection of meticulously crafted eyewear. “It is probably the smallest shop in the world,” says Manager Johannes Kern, “and it is like a little jewel.” The location has jewel-like credentials as well. Situated on the Franziskanerplatz, one of Vienna’s oldest squares; it is also the site of an historic 17th Century Franciscan Church; and Kleines – the charming café that caters to the Viennese art scene.
The ROLF boutique, which opened six months ago, has already achieved international exposure. “We have customers from all different nations – Russia, America, Australia, Asia – it’s really cool,” says Kern, “and the ROLF boutique is included on Vienna tour guides, which is amazing. We didn’t ask them to do this. However, most people are not used to craftsmen making everything perfect, and not accustomed to handmade frames. Some people are fascinated from the first second; others don’t see the energy.”
Quality service is always the ROLF priority. “One evening I was getting ready to close the shop, and one of the best hotels in Vienna telephoned to say they had an American client with a ROLF frame that was damaged – “could I fix it?” I said I don’t know, but bring it over. The customer arrived, I looked at the problem, and wasn’t sure I could repair it, but told the man to go have a beer, and come back in an hour. Exactly sixty minutes later, he returned and I’d repaired the frame. He was fascinated it worked – and purchased two more frames to take back to the U.S. He was very happy.”
Everything about the shop has the ROLF signature. Natural materials including steamed oak, grey felt and slate are used, and the frame trays that display the designs, are all in wood as well. The environment is the ideal showcase for the authenticity and craftsmanship of the handmade ROLF collection. “This is fun for me,” says Kern, “and I like people to be fascinated by our passion to do this. I really care that frames fit properly, and how to make the complete service. I get up every morning and like coming here.” www.rolf-spectacles.com JG
Top Image: ROLF Store Manager Johannes Kern at the ROLF Boutique Entrance