The Viennese artist Josef Hoffmann

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A fantastic architect and a brilliant designer: the man behind our “Melon”

Joseph Hoffmann was born in 1870 in the Moravian village of Pirnitz. He was the son of Josef Franz Karl Hoffman, a politician and successful business man, and Leopoldine Tuppy.

When he was quite young, Hoffman found architecture to be his calling. He subsequently enrolled in the Architecture department in Brünn’s Senior State Commercial and Technical School. Following his gradution he continued his studies in Würzburg at the Mititärbauamt and in 1882, he applied to Vienna’s Academy of Fine Art were he studied under Otto Wagner and Karl Hasenauer.

In 1895, alongside Koloman Moser and other artists, Hoffman went on to found the “Club of Seven”, where current trends in art and architecture were to be discussed. That same year, Hoffmann received the Rome prize. Following his fellowship work in Italy, he returned to Vienna in 1897 and founded the Vienna Secession with his former classmate Joseph Maria Olbrich. As a contributed to the group’s publication Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring), and a frequent designer of exhibit he was an instrumental player within the Secession.

In 1899, he was appointed as professor at the Vienna School of Arts, position which he held until his retirement in 1936.  Whilst there, he taught in the departments of architecture, metalwork, enameling, and applied art. While holding this position, he met various professors and students with whom he went on to work collaboratively.He also notably trained designers such as Ena Rottenberg, who designed the coveted Augarten tea service – ORIENT.

In 1900, Hoffmann designed rooms for the Kunstgewerbeschule and the Secession which were presented during the Exoposion Universelle in Paris. That same year, he also visited England. During his journey, he met the Scotish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh and visited the workshops of the C. R. Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft. These artistic “encounters” with advocates of art and craftsmanship heavily influenced him and helped shape his future vision of the “Wiener Werkstätte”.

The latter was founded in 1903. Spearheaded by Moser and Hoffman, this collaborative artistic association was to regroup designers and craftsman. The goal of the collaborative was two pronged as they wished to simultaneously elevate the statute of craftmanship and give standing to decorative arts. With its savoir faire and artistic vision, the Wiener Werkstätte was a key driving force behind the re-opening of the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory Augarten in 1923.

The profilic and extremly inventive designerpassed away in May of 1956 in Vienna.

Throughout his career, Hoffmann was actively involved in major architectural and design projects both abroad and nationally.While he first and foremost considered himself an architect, his design legacy continues to be prized and celebrated to this day.  Indeed, while his architectural work reaches the 500 commissions, the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (MAK) counts up to 5,000 of his drawings.

Among other designs, Hoffman created the world renowned MELON service for Augarten in 1929. It was initially produced in two colors: yellow and light blue and was painted in such a manner that Hoffmann’s strippes covered the shapes’ grooves. At the time, a luxury edition of the “Melon” service was also produced. The latter had a teal blue exterior while its interiors were coated in platinum. Hoffman’s “Melon” service remains among favorites to this day. Coupling elegance and playfulness, his unique service is now produced in twelve different colors thus allowing you to find your perfect mocha service.

The “HOFFMANN” service, also produced in 1929, whether it be in white or painted with the geometric “MYTH” decor, is a clear reflection of Hoffmann’s architectural passion. Creating a line which playfully combines geometric lines and historical architectural features, Hoffman challenged traditional porcelain shapes and created a modern innovative service.

A year latter, he designed our graceful “ATLANTIS” tea service. The service’s intricately textured surface beautifully showcases the sensitive properties of porcelain while its pure white color and rounded form evoke a sense of timeless elegance.Thus, mixing tradition with a modern touch of fantasy, Hoffman produced a one of a kind tea service.

Lastly, Hoffman imagined our “Deco Vienne” decor. His black and gold pattern   combining geometry and flowers is a perfect reflection of his talents as both a designer and an architect all the while also echoing back to Vienna’s Art Nouveau period.

 

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