Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, Pirnitz 1870–1956 Vienna)
Wood, mother-of-pearl, ebony, leather, suede
1 5/8 x 3 x 5 1/2 in. (4.1 x 7.6 x 14.0 cm)
Purchase, Anonymous Gift, 1977
Not on view
Hoffman’s simple grid showcases the marquetry of precious wood and mother-of-pearl. The desk set is an early example of a modernist aesthetic based on geometry rather than natural elements, a formal conceit that spanned various scales, from buildings to ink pads. The basic volumes and shapes of this set suggest mini-architecture, or an urban landscape—references also typical of Sottsass’s work.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Marking: (on suede, stamped in gold): WIENER / WERK / STÄTTE / MADE IN / AUSTRIA
[Robert K. Brown Books, New York, until 1977; sold to MMA]
Vienna. Österreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst. "The Price of Beauty," December 10, 2003–March 7, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Modern Design," March 30–December 3, 2006, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical," July 21–October 8, 2017, no catalogue.
Penelope Hunter-Stiebel. "The Decorative Arts of the Twentieth Century." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 37 (Winter 1979–1980), pp. 12–13, ill.