Josef Hoffmann (1870 — 1956)
Hoffmann emerged as a leading advocate of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or the concept of a “total work of art,” in Vienna. Profoundly skilled and remarkably prolific, he ventured into diverse design realms, encompassing architecture, furniture, household items, attire, book coverings, posters, fabrics, and wallpaper. Hoffmann firmly believed in the societal and spiritual advantages of creating harmonious living spaces under the guidance of a singular creative intellect.
His design philosophy bore the imprint of influential figures such as John Ruskin, William Morris, Charles Robert Ashbee, and Otto Wagner. Each of these visionaries shared a common goal: to elevate the status of craftsmanship to the level of fine art. Hoffmann, at the tender age of twenty-nine, imparted their wisdom as a professor at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School for Arts and Crafts). In 1903, he joined forces with fellow Vienna Secession member Koloman Moser to establish the Wiener Werkstätte.
The primary objectives of the Wiener Werkstätte were to rekindle the highest standards of craftsmanship and kindle widespread interest in sophisticated and unique designs. In the early 1900s, Hoffmann honed his signature style characterized by geometric precision and unity, which manifested in designs for various mediums, including silverware, furniture, carpets, textiles, lamps, and architectural elements.
His remarkable talent for crafting beautiful and enduring forms ensured that his career in architectural design and decor spanned several decades, stretching into the 1950s, leaving a lasting legacy in both Europe and the United States.