I am grateful to Pinterest for introducing me to a man of diverse talents who died in 1956. Josef Hoffman was born in Moravia in 1870, two years after Renee Mackintosh had been born in Glasgow and like Mackintosh he became an architect. He worked prodigiously, his most famous buildings being Stoclet Palace which included mosaic friezes by Gustav Klimt and Purkersdorf Sanatorium. In both these buildings, the stark simplicity of the exterior is contrasted with an ornate interior.
Josef was influenced by the Art Nouveau movement but he had a more modernist approach especially favouring geometric shapes. In 1897 he set up the Vienna Secession with Klimt and Koloman Moser reflecting his interest in the design of textiles, teapots, book covers, glass and ceramics. Hoffman’s design for the 14th Secession Exhibition, dedicated to Beethoven, was particularly praised.
But Josef wished to develop the application of good design into every part of people’s lives so in the spirit of the arts and crafts Movement he set up Wiener Werksttäte where 100 employees produced ceramics, jewellery, metalwork, leather goods, woodwork and bound books. The 37 craftsmen at Wiener Werksttäte were, in Hoffman’s eyes artists of equal standing to painters and architects.
Hoffman enjoyed designing chairs, jewellery and everything which required function and beauty. His designs are still produced today and works of art originally made in the early 20th century are sold for immense amounts.