Wiener Werkstätte

The National Gallery of Victoria is about to open an exhibition on the art and design of Vienna at the start of the 1900s. The exhibition features one of my teenage favourites, Gustav Klimt. Along with other inspirations like Schiele, Hoffmann, and Loos. All high society and exuberance. Can’t wait to see it.

Meanwhile, here is an image of fabric made at the Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna.

| Ugo Zovetti, Stichblatt fabric design and Friederike Beer-Monti wearing a houserobe featuring this pattern |

The Wiener Werkstätte was formed in 1903 by industrialist Fritz Waerndorfer, architect Josef Hoffman, and designer Koloman Mose. An association of artist-craftsmen working with various materials. They produced a very large body of work which is beautifully documented in Angela Völker’s book.

\The garments are dresses, houserobes, lounging suits, pyjamas. Or wallpapers.

Somewhat disturbingly Josef Hoffman even covered a pair of shoes in a particularly beautiful Poseidon pattern he had designed. He designed the house, the interior, and then designed the lady’s shoes to be worn in the house. He was unifying dress and interiors.

Imagine if the lady wearing the coat below stepped into the room on the left which is wrapped in the same fabric? Very messy. The female disappears into her domestic environment. Just another object.

| Carl Otto Czeschka, Bavaria fabric design, 1912 |

All this decoration got way too complicated and a little bit silly which fortunately led to the Modernist aesthetic of function and utility.

By the way, NGV has a very impressive collection of Hoffman’s work purchased in 1976.

Julia Ritson

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