In 1903, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser established the multidisciplinary workshops of the Wiener Werkstätte, inspired by the writings of Arts and Crafts theoreticians William Morris and John Ruskin.
Hoping to restore dignity to the craftsman and the artisan, uniting numerous trades under one roof in the homage to the medieval guild system, the Wiener Werkstätte set out to correct the negative effects of industrial production of everyday objects, and the resulting stylistic imitation, that had dominated since the advent of the Industrial Revolution.
The gesamtkunstwerk approach, in which all elements regardless of scale or theoretical import are considered as integral to the aesthetic whole, was typical of the time and was an ideological hallmark of the Wiener Werkstätte. This was borne out in the company’s production line: they designed, manufactured and retailed furniture and objects like vases, silverware and sculpture, as well jewelry, textiles, garments, and graphic design objects like calendars and postcards.
The Wiener Werkstätte consisted of a series of specialized departments each helmed by a master craftsman, including metalwork, textle design, and ceramics.