Wiener Werkstätte – Vienna Workshop (1903-1932)

Established in 1903, the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop) became a successful enterprise and a community of visual artists from Austria, bringing together architects, artists, and designers.

Wiener Werkstätte Exhibition poster
Wiener Werkstätte Exhibition poster- by Josef Hoffmann, ca. 1905

Image source: by MCAD Library

Who founded  Wiener Werkstätte?

Around the year 1900, the city of Vienna was, next to Paris, one of Europe’s leading cultural centers. In this context, the architect Josef Hoffmann, the graphic designer, and painter Koloman Moser and the modern-minded patron Fritz Waerndorfer decided to found the now-famous Vereinigung für Kunsthandwerk (Arts and Crafts Association) Wiener Werkstätte.

Shop of the Wiener Werkstätte

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About Wiener Werkstätte

This “productive cooperative of artisans” had to produce high-quality handicraft objects to satisfy every type of daily need (furniture, architecture, porcelain, glass, and clothing), in close contact between artists and consumers. The Wiener Werkstätte has left a lasting mark on the history of design with its pioneering designs and the interdisciplinary goal of holistically penetrating all areas of life.

Bruxelles - Palais Stoclet
Palais Stoclet in Brussels, a Gesamtkunstwerk example of the Wiener Werkstätte

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

Mission of  Wiener Werkstätte

The Werkstätte aimed to renew applied arts and to embellish life using everyday objects designed by artists. Following British examples, the challenge was to offer simple and elegant one-of-a-kind items in response to the unprofitable and industrial replicas of past styles. A teapot and a cupboard were designed with the same diligence and idealism.

Brass fruit-cup
Brass fruit-cup- 1925. cup made for the Weiner Werkstätte by Josef Hoffmann

Image source: by Narisa

Everyday objects have thus been elevated to masterpieces. All spheres of life should be homogeneously designed and do justice to modern culture. For a time the Wiener Werkstätte products enjoyed enormous commercial success, which led to the creation of outlets in Karlsbad, Marienbad, Zurich, New York, and Berlin. Many of the best-known artists and architects of this period created works for the Werkstätte, including such names as Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Josef Hoffmann, Dagobert Peche, Otto Prutscher, Koloman Moser, Ernst Lichtblau and Josef Frank.

bowl - Josef Hoffman
bowl – Josef Hoffmann- Bowl by Josef Hoffman, on display as part of the “Jazz Age” exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States.

Image source: by Tim Evanson

Wiener Werkstätte and architecture

In architectural commissions such as the Purkersdorf Sanatorium and the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, the Wiener Werkstätte has been able to realize its ideal of Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), a coordinated environment in which everything has been consciously designed as an integral part of the whole project.

Sanatorium Purkersdorf, Vienna.
the Sanatorium Purkersdorf– Garden side entrance.

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