Author(s): Gabriele Fahr-Becker
Viennese vision: An enterprise for craft, design, and total works of art The Wiener Werkstatte ( Vienna Workshop ) bears many hallmarks of a modern creative movement. Founded in 1903 by Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, and Fritz Waerndorfer, this progressive alliance of artists and designers was particularly interested inchallenging industrialised society with individual handcraftsmanship, and in bringing different facets of life into one unified, elegant artwork.The workshop began life in three small rooms, but soon expanded to fill a three storey building with special departments for metalwork, leatherwork, and woodwork, as well as a book binder and a paint shop. Artists experimented with various materials such as gold, precious stones, and papier mache and applied their simple, often geometric, designs across ceramics, textiles, typography, interior design, furniture, and fashion. In architectural commissions such as the Purkersdorf Sanatoriumand thePalais Stoclet in Brussels, the group was able to realize its ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk( total artwork ), in which every detail of an environment was designed as an integral part of a coordinated whole.Though the workshop lasted only 30 years, it enjoyedmajor commercial success, with outlets in Karlsbad, Marienbad, Zurich, New York, and Berlin. It also garnered designs from many of the leading artists of the epoch, includingGustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, andEgon Schiele. Today, the Vienna Workshop is recognized for its comprehensive approach to artistic practice and its stylistic influence onArt Deco and Bauhaus. "