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Hans Harald Rath
Hans Harald Rath
Hans Harald Rath took over the company from his father in 1938, building his reputation by securing important orders for chandeliers, even during the war. After losing Bohemian glass production sources in 1946/47, he became involved in reconstructing the Austrian glassmaking industry and helped found the glassmaking school in Kramsach. Under his management, Lobmeyr’s ground-breaking lighting fixtures sealed the company’s position as the premiere source for modern, festive crystal lighting with orders from, for example, the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
A Bright Light in Dark Times
Hans Harald Rath (1904–1968) joined his father’s business in 1924, taking responsibility for, among other things, Lobmeyr’s showing at the highly significant 1925 Paris applied arts exhibition. Like his father and great-uncle, he maintained close relationships with the consequential artists of his time and with the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. In 1937 he married Janet Street, who had come to Vienna from England to study piano and with whom he had four sons. In 1938, shortly before the start of the war, Hans Harald Rath took over the company, with important chandelier orders coming from Berlin that same year.
After the war, Hans Harald became crucially involved in rebuilding the Austrian glass industry in Salzburg and Tyrol. In 1947, he co-founded the Kramsach Glass School and the glass factories in Bad Ischl, Salzburg, and Kufstein, an act that opened up important job prospects to Sudeten German glass workers and teachers who had been expelled from northern Bohemia. In 1944, he moved the chandelier workshops to Swarovski in Wattens – going on to make the first chandeliers with rhinestone glass. The patent for this was, however, blocked by the Tyrolean company. Together with Philips Eindhoven, Hans Harald experimented with using Linestra and neon tubes in modern chandeliers. The Philips headquarters in Eindhoven and the ORF broadcasting centre in Vienna are both equipped with these technologies.
Revolutionising the Chandelier
During the post-war reconstruction, a great number of orders for lighting came in, including for the Sophiensäle, the Austrian parliament, the Federal Chancellery, department stores, cafés, and numerous churches. Beyond this, there were also orders for palaces in Kuwait and Afghanistan. Of particular note are the ring chandelier and the sconces in the Vienna State Opera designed in 1955 together with architect Erich Boltenstern. In 1964, Lobmeyr delivered radically modernist chandelier designs for the Luxembourg theatre. Several popular designs also date from this period, such as the stackable Alpha service, which remains a much-loved item by Lobmeyr customers today. Hans Harald celebrated his greatest success as an artist, businessman, and representative of Viennese culture when he and architect Wallace Harrison accepted the commission to illuminate the New York Metropolitan Opera with spectacular chandeliers in the lobby and auditorium. They were a formal gift from the state of Austria to the USA in 1966.
Hans Harald died in an accident at the Langenzersdorf train station on 18 November 1968.