He was a leader among those modern furniture designers who began to design with aspirations that went beyond ornate detailing and elaborate forms to those of a more abstract and functional concept. Here, lines in the power of their simplicity is beginning to be explored and applied to designs for buildings, interior design, furniture and furnishings.
An Austrian trained architect, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria with the famous Otto Wagner whose design theories of modern architecture was influencing others of his time.
When he joined his office in 1896, this was to influence his own thoughts regarding form and function and the contemporary furniture he would design. Opening his own firm in 1898, he joined forces as part of a revolutionary group of artists and architects known as the Vienna Secession. Among its members was Gustav Klimt.
With Gustav Klimt he was to pursue the concept of a “total work of art” that would be expressed in every design element including the inside and outside of a building as well its contents, interior finishes and materials. Modern and contemporary furniture designers would be heavily influenced by their use of high quality materials such as marble and the integration of natural elements such as the garden integrating design and nature together as one. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the key designers of the Arts and Crafts movement incorporated this as well designing and detailing each and every element of his houses including placement of the furniture.
Born in 1870 until his death in 1956, he was a prolific designer. In addition to his work in architecture and furniture design, he also designed utensils, posters, textiles and wallpaper. It is no surprise that he was appointed at professor to the School for Arts and Crafts at the age of 29. In 1903 he opened the Weiner Werkstatte with Koloman Moser to develop and promote a high level of craftsmanship and to better educate the public both locally and abroad in these harmonious concepts as well as the idea that the decorative arts should be viewed equal to the status assigned to the fine arts.
It was at the International Exhibition in Buenos Aires in 1910 that he presented the Kubus Chair, with minimalist lines and cubist geometry that would influence modern furniture design for generations to come. This was followed by the Kubus sofa and loveseat sharing the same high quality craftsmanship and strict attention to design and detailing.