Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) was an Austrian architect and designer. He was born in Pirnitz (Brnice), now part of the Czech Republic. He studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) in Vienna, graduating with a Prix de Rome in 1895. He co-founded the Vienna Secession in 1897, which he left in 1905 to establish the Wiener Werkstätte with Fritz Wärndorfer and Koloman Moser. He designed many of its products including textiles, as well as glassware and lighting produced by J. L. Lobmeyr and china for Augarten Porcelain. Some of his most iconic designs are the “Kubus” chairs and the “Series B” set of glasses. He also taught at the Universität für Angewandte Kunst (University of Applied Arts).
In 1906, Hoffmann built designed the Sanatorium Purkersdorf near Vienna. A great advancement towards abstraction and a move away from traditional Arts & Crafts and historicism, it served as a major precedent and inspiration for the modern architecture in the first half of the 20th century. It had the clarity, simplicity, and logic that foreshadowed the Neue Sachlichkeit (new objectivity). Around the same time, he started the design of the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, Belgium, which was completed in 1911. It became a masterpiece of early Modernist architecture and an example of Gesamtkunstwerk (complete artwork), replete with murals by Gustav Klimt and copper figures on the tower by Franz Metzner.