Josef Hoffmann

1870 Pirnitz, Moravia 1870 - 1956 1956 Vienna

Josef Hoffmann was born in Pirnitz in Moravia in 1870. He began studying architecture in 1892 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna under Carl von Hasenauer and then Otto Wagner in 1894. He received the Rome Prize for his diploma work and embarked upon a study tour of Italy together with Joseph Maria Olbrich. Hoffmann was one of the leading figures in the Viennese art scene at the turn of the 20th century. In 1895 Hoffmann’s circle of friends – which included Koloman Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich and Max Kurzweil – became the “Club of Seven”, an avant-garde forum for experimentation and development of new artistic ideas. Hoffmann was also one of the founding members of the Viennese Secession in 1897. At the age of 29 he assumed a post as a lecturer at the School for Applied Arts in Vienna. Up until his retirement in 1936, he lectured in the departments of architecture, metalwork, enamelling and applied arts. He founded the Wiener Werkstätte together with Koloman Moser and Fritz Waerndorfer in 1903. Hoffmann applied his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (“total art work”) to his designs for all branches of applied arts and was active as both an architect and a designer throughout his life. His œuvre includes numerous examples of furniture design and building projects such as the Purkersdorf Sanatorium near Vienna and the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, whose interiors were decorated and furnished throughout by the Wiener Werkstätte. Hoffmann was also able to achieve considerable international acclaim with his designs for furniture, glassware, vases, jewelry and his exhibition concepts. He is renowned for his rather austere, clear and geometrical designs.