Josef Hoffmann (1870 Brtnice – 1956Vienna)
Sitzmaschine adjustable armchair (designed for the Westend Sanatorium in Purkersdorf), (1905)
(J. & J. Kohn), bent beechwood, grid of squares piercing, textile upholstery (textile design by Joh. Backhausen & Söhne), H 110 cm, W 65 cm, D 82 cm, Cushions: 105×55×4 cm, 28×75×10 cm, acquired in 1997, Olomouc Museum of Art, inv. no. UŽ 17
The Viennese geometrical Jugendstil in furniture design was typified by the adjustable armchair Sitzmaschine (machine for sitting), designed in 1905 by Josef Hoffmann, originally for the Westend Sanatorium in Purkersdorf near Vienna. In 1906 it was put into production by the manufacturer of bent-wood furniture, the J. & J. Kohn company under the catalogue number 669. Several series were later made by other bent-wood furniture manufacturers. The austere architecture of the armchair’s geometrical construction is emphasized by the rectangular décor of the plywood slats in the sides and by the adjustable backrest. Hoffmann designed the backrest to be adjustable by means of shifting a steel rod in steel grooves. Another distinguishing feature is the use of small decorative ovals (Gebrüder Thonet also used round shapes) which protect the reinforced connections between the seat and the legs. The armchair has removable cushions (Joh. Backhausen & Söhne company). It is based on the popular Morris armchair but its style is a new quality. It is a modern artistic artefact, an object on the new border, which raises this unique work from utility value to the level of so-called high art.