Writing Case, Josef Hoffmann, Wiener Werkstatte, circa 1924, Leather Gold Embossed
Bib.: Same object in the MAK, Wiener Werkstaette in the Museum for Applied Arts in Vienna, inventory number LE 541-1.
In the 1920s, the leather department of the Wiener Werkstatte produced high quality leather objects. From five feet tower cabinets designed by Otto Prutscher to match cases by Josef Hoffmann they produced most of their items in gold embossed goat leather.
The shape of this writing case was designed by Josef Hoffmann around 1919. The decor was sketched by Mathilde Flögl. It is made from gold embossed goat leather and silk on the inside. It is marked with the gold embossed “Wiener Werk Stätte”.
Josef Hoffmann (Brtnice 1870 – 1956 Vienna), co-founder of the Viennese Secession and of the Wiener Werkstätte, was an extremely productive and versatile architect and designer. Throughout his career he experimented with various forms, techniques and materials. In his designs, he was striving for a strong reduction of the form to the essential and was a pioneer of geometric Jugendstil. This is how his characteristic geometric style was established. The scope of his designs ranges from buildings and entire interiors, following the concept of the “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art), all the way to small details of everyday life. One of his most significant works is the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, a Gesamtkunstwerk which he executed for a wealthy entrepreneur between 1905 and 1911 in collaboration with, among others, Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser.
Wiener Keramik (WK) was an art ceramics company that existed from 1906 to 1913. Its founders, Michael Powolny and Bertold Löffler, were both graduates of the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. Powolny, as a skilled stove builder, brought with him the knowledge of ceramic materials, while Löffler was a trained graphic artist and painter.
With their perfect workmanship and colorful glazes, their figurines and ceramic products are representative of the Viennese decorative arts of the period around 1900. In terms of motifs, they embody the aesthetics of that time, when the artists of the Vienna Secession progagated the penetration of all areas of life in the sense of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), and thus the decorative arts also significantly increased in value. Architects such as Josef Hoffmann integrated accessories of Wiener Keramik into the contemporary-modern interiors of Viennese Jugendstil and contributed to their fame.
Powolny’s four seasons putti range among his creations that are still best known today. Löffler designed utilitarian ceramics in black and white with gilded secessionist decor.
Powolny and Löffler patrially owed the distribution of their objects to the cooperation with the Wiener Werkstatte. Indeed, their products were sold in Wiener Werkstatte showrooms from 1907 on. The much acclaimed Kunstschau (art show) in 1908 and various exhibitions in the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry certainly contributed to their artistic success.
Despite its success, the company lasted only seven years until it was merged with Gmundner Keramik in 1913 for financial reasons.
Monday to Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.