Barbara Ambrosz is the cofounder of design practice Lucy.D – an award-winning studio with the motto of ‘revealing the poetry in everyday life’. Seven years ago, she left Vienna for a farm in rural Upper Austria, where she lives with her husband and two young children. The contrast in lifestyle was tough, she admits, but the freedom, lack of distraction, and unspoiled surroundings of her new home all contributed to a grounding experience that changed her, and her work, forever.
The full interview was originally featured in our publication City Quitters, which portrays creative pioneers pursuing alternative ways of living and working away from big cities.
Sierning, Austria – What made you want to leave Vienna?
BARBARA AMBROSZ: Love! [laughs]. My husband Hans is a farmer and is bound to this location. I’ve always had a close affinity with nature – it’s definitely something that has shaped me. When I got pregnant, I decided with my business partner Karin that it would be the best solution for me to move here. I left for personal reasons, but it was also a crucial decision for our business. We had the confidence it would work out and I believe it enriched our profile.
Being able to work in a different environment, especially in a rural one, gives you a lot of freedom
How has living here affected you?
Being able to work in a different environment, especially in a rural one, gives you a lot of freedom. There is less distraction – no street noise, less appointments and meetings. Your eyes just have a totally different horizon here. I’m surrounded by fields. If I step outside I can see green for miles and miles with nothing blocking my sight. In Vienna, or any other big city, there are always walls in front of you.
I have been living here for 7 years now and it has definitely changed me as a person. I’m much calmer. I notice the different seasons, different times of the day. It’s a very grounding experience. I think in the city you can lose your grip – I don’t mean that in a bad way – but it’s easy to lose your connection to nature, your roots. It’s interesting to see the effect the rural context has on people who work creatively.
I’m discovering new things about myself. If I feel stressed or unwell, I go outside and do something with my hands. I do that a lot in my job anyway, building models, experimenting with materials, but to really get stuck in with your hands in soil is something else entirely. It really affects you, in a positive way. Then I realise my thoughts are shifting as well. I think nowadays this sort of grounding is something absolutely essential and necessary. It makes it easier to stay true to yourself; you are less influenced by trends. I think it has really improved the quality of my work.