vienna secession // DESIGN HISTORY

Designers following the Art Nouveau movement in Austria were part of the Vienna Secession.  They believed in the Arts & Crafts concept of hand-crafted goods made from locally sourced materials.  Key figures included Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffman and Otto Wagner.  The movement was known for its extensive use of artistic details in the form of murals, tiled flooring, decorative iron, lighting and other elements. These stunning details were not only found on the interiors but also in the otherwise simple exteriors.  Unfortunately, it was these details that eventually doomed the movement, as the cost of their buildings was so high as to make it unsustainable for commercial development.


Vienna Secession Building + Colorful Miami Residential Mid Rise

Joseph Maria Olbrich’s Vienna Secession building design featured a dome covered in gold laurel pieces, a symbolic nod to Apollo, the god of poetry, learning and music.

This Miami building is modern and clean in its core design, but colorful graphic designs, designed to be viewed from street level, have been painted on the undersides of the balconies and roof.


Purkersdorf Sanatorium + Lorenzo Castillo rug

Josef Hoffmann was known for his use of geometric patterns on the floor, textiles and details in the interiors of his structures.  The Purkersdorf Sanatorium, which was basically like a modern spa, was highly decorated, including the black and white design on the floor.

This rug from Lorenzo Castillo updates the black and white geometric pattern with the rose and lavender patterns that overlay it.



Josef Hoffmann pendant + Josiah McElheny pendant

Looking at this pendant by Josef Hoffman, it is incredible to think that it dates from 1900.  How something over 100 years old can still look so contemporary is a nod to how much of modern design is still influenced by these designers of the past.

Josiah McElheny has based many of his art pieces off the work of Josef Hoffmann. The piece “The Center is Everywhere” is reminiscent of Hoffmann’s brass pendant.

Much like the Arts & Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau was an international style that had distinct movements in several countries including France/BelgiumScotland, and Germany.


Leave a Reply