Saturday, June 8, 2013

Josef Hoffmann: one of the first modern designers

Josef Hoffmann, designer, Austrian, 1870–1956
Wiener Werkstätte, manufacturer, Austria, 1903–1932
Samovar, designed ca. 1911
Brass and walnut
From the collection of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Photograph by versluis 2013

The simple circular portholes serve as air intakes and for heat source observation.  The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art didactic for this piece explains the artifact this way:

“To the age its art, to art its freedom.” These words, spoken by Austrian architect and designer Josef Hoffmann, underscore his belief that art need not copy the past but rather reflect present-day styles. Freed from historical constraints, Hoffmann abstracted his designs into simple geometric forms. Decorative metalwork provided Hoffmann with a malleable medium to be hammered, polished, punched or enhanced with applied ornamentation. This samovar, composed of a kettle with a base and burner to heat water for tea, exemplifies Hoffmann’s ability to combine multiple, functional parts into a unified form with subtle ornamentation. Despite the samovar’s simplicity and moderately priced materials, it golden surface and dark wood illustrates Hoffman’s rich and elegant aesthetics.

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