The architect and designer Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956), co-founder of the Viennese Secession and the Wiener Werkstätte, is one of the most influential figures in the Wiener Moderne (Vienna around 1900).

The square is the key to a new approach to form and materials in Hoffmann’s work. From 1898 he drew on squared paper, which led to his designs becoming more disciplined. Beginning in 1901/02 Hoffmann turned away from the curved shapes of Jugendstil in favor of strict geometry.

Developments in Great Britain were of great significance to Hoffmann: in 1900 the Viennese Secession showed works by Charles Robert Ashbee, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh. In 1902 Hoffmann visited Mackintosh in Glasgow. Austerity, purity, and simplicity characterize the furniture and buildings designed there.

From his wastepaper basket to his skyscraper, geometric basic forms became a kind of trademark for Hoffmann, even if the first grid objects were in fact designed for the Wiener Werkstätte by his colleague Koloman Moser. Hoffmann’s designs are particularly characterized by accentuated areas, which he achieved by using frames and borders.

Milestones in Hoffmann’s early work include the Sanatorium Westend in Purkersdorf (1904) and the Stoclet Palace in Brussels (1905–1911).

Hoffmann, Geometric, MAK DESIGN LAB, May 2014 – January 2015
Josef Hoffmann: oval lidded tureen (part of a service), Ostrov nad Ohří (CZ), 1910
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Thematic area Hoffmann, Geometric