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Lobmeyr und Wiener Werkstätte
Lobmeyr and the Wiener Werkstätte
In the first third of the twentieth century, Lobmeyr’s history is closely linked to the Wiener Werkstätte, a community of artists and producers that transformed Vienna into the centre of a new style of craftsmanship after the turn of the century. Artists including Josef Hoffmann, Oswald Haerdtl, Otto Prutscher, Carl Witzmann, and Michael Powolny, to name just a few, designed for Lobmeyr during this period, creating products that are still in great demand today.
A New Style
Even in the early days of company founder and imperial and royal purveyor Josef Lobmeyr’s leadership, the company was not satisfied to be merely a glass dealer, foraying instead into the realm of new techniques and designs. Wholly in this spirit, Stefan Rath, grandson of the company founder, worked closely with architects and members of the Wiener Werkstätte and the artists of the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. An exclusive range of drinking sets, unique pieces, and crystal chandeliers was created. In a time of shoddy mass production and thoughtless imitation of outdated styles, the artist community founded by Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser in 1903 strove to design everyday objects to meet the highest criteria of quality—a fitting challenge for Lobmeyr.
As the Wiener Werkstätte did not have its own glass department, Lobmeyr’s products were sold in the Wiener Werkstätte shops, in particular the bronzite series in black and white by Josef Hoffmann, which is still available today. Also of note is his extremely delicate muslin glass Drinking Set No. 238 from 1917, Michael Powolny’s designs for glass engravings on cups, bowls, and vases, the work of Oskar Strnad, and many others. Together, they helped pave the way for the great Paris Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Moderne of 1925, a creative fountain of Art Déco. There, Lobmeyr exhibited the entire spectrum of crafting skills and the work of some of the greatest designers of the time, ultimately winning the jury’s Grand Prix.
The large Paris exhibition led to well-filled order books and purchases by the most prestigious museums of applied art, in Vienna, New York, Stockholm, Prague, and Paris, with Lobmeyr remaining present in these institutions today. The Wiener Werkstätte existed until 1932, but its protagonists still have an impact, not least thanks to their close cooperation with commercial enterprises such as Lobmeyr, who are enthusiastic about maintaining the highest quality standards while also staying open to modern design.