Josef Hoffmann, Villa Spitzer, Austria, 1902/03
Josef Hoffmann was a Czech and Austrian architect and designer. He designed furniture, fabrics, silver and metal objects, jewelry, glass and ceramics. He was an important person of the Art Nouveau movement in Vienna and the founder of the Wiener Werkstätte. His work is characterized by purity of lines and geometric shapes. As an architect he dealt primarily with the design of family villas. He always strived to make the house not only a building, but also harmoniously created interiors. Hoffmann’s style eventually became more sober and abstract and it was limited increasingly to functional structures and domestic products. In 1906, Hoffmann built his first great work on the outskirts of Vienna, the Sanatorium Purkersdorf .
The villa is one of a group of four artists’s residences, designed by Hoffmann, built on the Hohe Warte, a semi-rural plateau on the outskirts of Vienna.
The four villas – built for Carl Moll, Koloman Moser, Henneberg and another photographer, Friedrich Viktor Spitzer as an artists’ colony – signal the emergence around 1900 of Hoffmann’s independent and unmistakeable style, creating buildings where ‘the exterior is one with the interior’. The buildings had many features in common such as brick wall construction, white roughcast facing and views over the Vienna Woods. Their interiors while more diverse and suited in each case to the requirements of the client, reveal an overall preference for simple rectilinear shapes and occasional black and white schemes as in the guest room of the Moser villa presented here.
It is to Carl Moll that we owe our most vivid notion of domestic life there. The painted record, shown here, of Moll’s own villa reveals Hoffmann’s striking use of colour, the careful muting and distribution of light, as well as the extension of living space onto terraces and into gardens.