Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956)
Born in Pirnitz (Brtnice), Moravia, Josef Hoffmann studied architecture at Brünn’s Höhere Staatsgewerbeschule, and at Vienna’s Akademie der Bildenden Künste where he studied under Karl von Hasenauer and Otto Wagner, the latter of whom he would often give credit for influencing his functional, modern design work.
A founding member of the Vienna Secession, Hoffmann frequently designed exhibitions and contributed to their publication Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring). He later left the Secession due to conflicts with other artists over differences in artistic vision. Appointed professor at Vienna’s Kunstgewerbeschule in 1899, Hoffmann taught metalwork, enamelling, applied art and architecture. In 1905, after leaving the Vienna Secession he was commissioned to design the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, taking responsibility for all exterior structures, complementing the interiors designed by a collaborative team including Gustav Klimt.
Serving as co-artistic director of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) Hoffmann’s work placed emphasis on quality and focused on goods for the home, with the aim for decorative arts to be given the same value as fine arts. Actively involved in exhibition design, he designed both mass- produced and handcrafted work. His aim was to unify architecture and interiors creating a ‘total work of art’ (Gesamtkunstwork).