Wiener Werkstätte – Vienna Workshop (1903-1932)

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

Wiener Werkstätte logo

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Who founded  Wiener Werkstätte?

Around the year 1900 the city of Vienna was, next to Paris, one of Europe’s leading cultural centres. 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.

Tea service by Josef Hoffmann, Wiener Werkstätte, 1903

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About Wiener Werkstätte

This “productive cooperative of artisans” was to produce high-quality craftwork to fulfill all manner of everyday needs (with products including furniture, works of architecture, porcelain, glass and apparel), in close contact between artists and consumers. With its pioneering designs and the interdisciplinary goal of holistically penetrating all areas of life, the Wiener Werkstätte left a lasting mark on the history of design.

Wiener Werkstätte: Exhibition room on Neustiftgasse in Vienna 7. Photo, 1904

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Mission of  Wiener Werkstätte

The aim of the Werkstätte was to renew applied arts and to embellish the 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.

Koloman Moser Kakedose c.1910, Executed by Anton Pribil

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Everyday objects have thus been elevated to masterpieces. All spheres of life should be homogeneously designed and do justice to a 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.

Products made in Weiner Werkstätte, J. Hoffmann

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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.

Saantorium Purkesdorf oggi
Purkersdorf Sanatorium by Josef Hoffmann

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