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about Josef Hoffmann

JOSEF HOFFMANN (1870 – 1956)

Josef Franz Maria Hoffmann was born in Pirnitz, Austria-Hungary on December 15, 1870. He was born as the son of a wealthy family and therefore, right from the beginning, Josef Hoffmann had all possibilities: Hoffmann’s father wanted his son to be an advocate. But Josef Hoffmann preferred to learn something technical and so his parents sent Hoffmann to the State Trade School in Brünn where he started his technical studies.

For several years Josef Hoffmann worked for the army’s planning authority in Würzburg. A bit later Hoffmann started to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna - Karl von Hasenauer and Otto Wagner were among his teachers there.   

Later on Hoffmann’s architectural style was determined by a one-year stay in the South of Italy:  the young Josef Hoffmann was very impressed by the cube-shaped houses with their even and smooth facades and flat roofs.

In 1899 Hoffmann got a job as a teacher at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna. Four years later he founded the “Wiener Werkstätte” (the Vienna studio) together with Koloman Moser. In 1906 Josef Hoffmann designed his first own big building - the Sanatorium in Pukersdorf. In 1907 he joined the German Werkbund and in 1912 he founded the Austrian Werkbund.

The time of the Nazis was seen rather positive by Josef Hoffmann. In 1938 he voted in favour of the union between Austria and Germany and the Third Reich because he expected to see an economic boom in Austria and especially in Austrian architecture. During the years of war, from 1938 to 1945, Hoffmann redesigned the building of the German Embassy in Vienna.  

Josef Hoffmann’s furniture designs, like his architecture, are characterized by clear, classic forms. Still well-known today are for example Hoffmann’s innovative “Sitzmaschine”
as well as the ”Kubus Series“ and the furnishings of the sanatorium in Pukersdorf, the Koller house and the Art Show in 1908.

Josef Hoffmann died in Vienna on May 7, 1956. The city of Vienna granted Josef Hoffmann a grave of honor on the Central Cemetery and named a street after him.