Josef Hoffmann Sitzmaschine by Wittmann Furniture Vienna Circa 1980.
Josef Hoffmann ‘Sitzmaschine’ by Wittmann Austria Circa 1980, the original design dating from 1905, The spherical parts on the armrests of this chair are not only ornaments but also levers for changing the angle of the backrest. The backrest can be adjusted at five different angles by changing the positions of the bars attached to both sides of the backrest. The chair has multi recline positions and also a retractable foot rest which neatly conceals within the underside of the chair, a fine balancing act between form over function, The „Sitzmaschine“ (Sitting Machine) is a revolutionary design classic 20th century furniture history and a masterpiece of quality craftsmanship, produced by Wittmann Furniture Vienna, there is no other chair like it and it sits proud as one of the most iconic chairs ever designed in MOMA, museum of modern art NewYork.
This chair was designed when the Wiener Werkstätte, a production community of visual artists, was commissioned to design the building and interior furnishing of the Sanatorium Purkersdorf (1904), their first major work. The latticework on the back is a signature of Hoffmann, used also in the craft products he created at that time, including silver flower vases and trays. Similar spherical ornaments were also used for chairs in the dining hall of the same sanatorium. Although some have pointed out that this chair shows the influence of the Morris Chair similarly with the adjustable backrest designed by Phillip Webb in 1866, it can be said that, as seen its name Sitzmaschine chair, which combines German words “Sitz” (seat) and “Maschine” (machine), this work preceded Le Corbusier’s words, a house is “a machine for living in (machine à habiter)” (1923). J. & J. Kohn, a furniture company, produced many varieties of this chair, including existing ones without a footrest.
Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956)
Josef Hoffmann was born in Brtnice, Moravia, in 1870. In 1887, he entered the Royal State Technical School in Brno and learned architecture. In 1892, he entered the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. After graduating from the academy in 1895, he formed Siebener-Club, a group of young artists, together with other artists. After working at the office of Otto Wagner, under whom he had studied at the academy, Hoffmann cofounded the Vienna Secession in 1897. He also designed the interior furnishing of the editorial office of Ver Sacrum, the official magazine of the Vienna Secession. In 1899 he assumed the position of a professor at the Kunstgewerbeschule Wien, or the Vienna School of Applied Arts, and taught architecture and applied arts (until 1936). After inspecting activities of Arts and Crafts and the Glasgow School, in 1903 he cofounded the Wiener Werkstätte, which created unique interior decorations and achieved international fame. Hoffmann also designed houses, including the Stoclet Palace, from 1906 to 1911,—one of his masterpieces—until his late years. In 1956, he died at 85 years of age in Vienna.
Creator: Josef Hoffmann
Model: Sitzmaschine (Sitting Machine)
Original Design: 1905
Style: Vienna / Bauhaus
Material: Blackened Ash
Provenance: Private Collection Munich
In excellent condition with very minor age related wear.
Height 33.5” / 112cm
Width 27.5” / 70cm
Depth 34.25 / 87 cm
Floor to seat 16.5” / 42cm