Joseph Hoffman

(1870 - 1956)


Austrian architect and designer Joseph Hoffman (1870-1956) was born in Pirnitz, Moravia, now in Czech Republic. Hoffman was among the founders of Vienna Secession and co-established the Wiener Werkstätte association which brought together architects, designers and artisans and pioneered modern design in the applied arts. Hoffman studied under Otto Wagner in Vienna and in 1897 numbered among the rebellious founders of the Vienna Secession, though he resigned in 1905 along Wagner and Klimt over a dispute of priorities.

In 1899 Hoffman began to teach at the Kunstgewerbeschule, now the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and designed the Eighth Secessionist Exhibition which was open to international exhibitors and included works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. In 1900 Hoffman designed the Vienna arts exhibition for the 1900 Paris Exposition universelle. Thereafter Hoffman’s style began to evolve away from earlier Art Nouveau influences and increasingly embrace geometric lines along a quadratic theme as exemplified by his masterpiece, the monumental yet elegant Stoclet House (1905) in Brussels, where his use of straight lines, rectangles and squares create foreshadows the Art Deco. Hoffmann went on to design the Austrian pavilions for the 1914 Deutscher Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne and for the 1934 Venice Biennale. In 1920 he was appointed city architect of Vienna, and in 1924 and 1925 he carried out various housing projects for the city.