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Seating group Josef Hoffmann ca. 1915

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Seating group, design by Josef Hoffmann, manufactured by J. & J. Kohn Vienna, stained bentwood, brass, c. 1915

  • Height: 77cm, Width: 120cm, Depth: 65cm
  • 1914 to 1916
    Technique: Beech bent and stained, brass knobs, nickel plated, velvet cover renewed
    Provenance: Private collection, Vienna
    bib.: catalogue Jacob & Josef Kohn 1916, reprint Munic 1980, dep. no. 975/F (armchair) and 975/C (bench), p. 50; Giovanni Renzi, Il mobile moderno, Silvana Editoriale Spa, Milano 2008, p. 258
    18.000,00 VAT inclusive
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    Description

    Josef Hoffmann designed this seating group in 1914. The very same year the bentwood-company Jacob & Josef Kohn started its production with the model number 975 and published it in 1916 in its sales catalogue first. The design is very likely a variation of Hoffmann’s 1902 fauteuils with model number 720 showing clear parallels. The horseshoe-shaped basic form as well as the solidly designed back elements are cleverly loosened up by graceful legs, giving the furniture an almost floating character. Horizontal brass rivets structure the back section in very decorative way. By keeping with Hoffmann’s basic principle of limiting the design to the essentials, they stabilize the furniture’s seat almost effortless. With this seating set, Josef Hoffmann created a classic of Viennese Jugendstil.

    Artist

    Josef Hoffmann (Brtnice 1870 - 1956 Vienna), co-founder of the Viennese Secession and of the Wiener Werkstätte, was an extremely productive and versatile architect and designer. Throughout his career he experimented with various forms, techniques and materials. In his designs, he was striving for a strong reduction of the form to the essential and was a pioneer of geometric Jugendstil. This is how his characteristic geometric style was established. The scope of his designs ranges from buildings and entire interiors, following the concept of the “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art), all the way to small details of everyday life. One of his most significant works is the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, a Gesamtkunstwerk which he executed for a wealthy entrepreneur between 1905 and 1911 in collaboration with, among others, Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser.

    Execution

    The Moravian company Jacob & Josef Kohn, originally specialized in the wood trade, expanded its business activities from 1867 to include the production of bentwood furniture. Until that time, the company “Gebrüder Thonet” had a monopoly on the production of bentwood furniture. With this new technique, beech wood was bent into the desired shape under the effect of steam and thus enabled the serial production of modern utility furniture. With the innovative idea of having their furniture designed by important designers of Viennese Modernism, J. & J. Kohn became one of Thonet's strongest competitors. The company commissioned some of the most sought-after architects of the time, such as Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser and Gustav Siegel, to design furniture. With their high-quality furnishings, the company was successful at many world exhibitions (World Exhibition in Vienna 1873, World Exhibition in Paris 1900, International Exhibition in Turin 1902, to name but a few). Aesthetically in tune with the times, the modern furniture from J. & J. Kohn became popular with the wealthy middle classes throughout Europe and overseas. The great international success was also due to the dense distribution network of the company, with branches in all major European cities. With the company motto "semper sursum" (always upwards) Jacob & Josef Kohn advanced to become one of the most successful furniture manufacturers in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Seating sets, display cabinets and typical Jugendstil living accessories (tiered tables, flower columns, shelves, etc.) from the period up to around 1914 with the original label or brand stamp "Jacob & Josef Kohn, Wien" are today sought-after collector's items worldwide.

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    Seating group Josef Hoffmann J. & J. Kohn ca. 1915 bent beechwood brass
    Seating group Josef Hoffmann ca. 1915

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