The roots of the Oesterreichische Werkstaetten


The beginnings of the Oesterreichische Werkstaetten in Vienna. Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstaetten.

Growing out of the Wiener Werkstaetten and the Werkbund federation and founded in 1948 by Josef Hoffmann himself, the Oesterreichische Werkstaetten are considered a real Viennese institution that the city would be unimaginable without.


Josef Hoffmann, a cult figure who had a huge influence on the general design canon and lovingly known as “Square Hoffmann” in his day due to his love of that shape, is responsible for various revolutions in the history of art. Josef Hoffmann designs have a strong following among those who know and love them, as well as those to whom they are new, but who have good taste.


Together with his colleague Koloman Moser and the banker Fritz Wärndorfer, Hoffmann founded the Wiener Werkstaetten in Vienna in 1903. At the turn of the century, artists from all over Europe were looking to free art from all forms of glorification and make it accessible to the greater public, especially in everyday life. The adornment of everyday items resulted in one of Hoffmann’s most important ideas: the complete artwork, which focused on the indivisibility of life, art and architecture.


With their revolutionary ideas, the Wiener Werkstaetten provided significant inspiration for later artistic movements in modernism and beyond. As an example, Bauhaus may never have existed if the Wiener Werkstaetten had not dared to simplify art nouveau in such a pioneering way, leading to the emergence of art deco.


In 1912, Hoffmann became co-founder of the Oesterreichischer Werkbund, which acted as an interface between handicrafts, architecture and art nouveau in Vienna.


In 1948, he brought the Oesterreichische Werkstaetten into being as a kind of resurrection of the Wiener Werkstaetten. Continuing the statutes of the Wiener Werkstaetten, they worked towards bringing together dignified handicrafts and thus bringing charm and elegance into day-to-day life – for everyone!

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