Wiener Werkstätte

Woka's new web site

Marc Lalique chandelier woka We are delighted to see Woka's new web site. Not only does it provide full information on Woka's own production, it also draws attention to the fact that they also restore classic pieces, which you can see at their fascinating showrooms in Vienna, near the cathedral, at Singerstraße 16 (not the whole building -- just the part to the right of the entrance):

Singerstrasse 16

Here is the centre of their home page:

Woka home page central section

Roll over the Art Déco light (which is AD9) in the centre, and it changes to the text Classic Lamps from 1900 to the present handcrafted in Vienna. This is the section that interior designers will enter most often because it gives access to Woka's standard catalogue items. A product page looks like this:

Woka AD10 table light

You get the info you need, plus a public price ex-VAT.

That "handcrafted in Vienna" strapline is important. Woka's workshops are nearby...

Woka workshops 1

where there are craftsmen working at the highest level. Because they are also restoring classic pieces, their understanding of historic design and methods is constantly increasing. The quality of everything that Woka makes is of the highest, and priced accordingly.

Woka workshop 2

Woka was founded by WOlfgang KArolinsky, a collector of, and dealer in, works (not just lights) from the important art and craft movements in Vienna at the turn of the last century -- the Viennese Secession and the Wiener Werkstätte. His knowledge and understanding of the period is very deep, not just from handling the pieces, but also from his extensive photographic archive.

In fact, our one criticism of the new site is that there are fewer images from this archive than there were on the old one. It is invaluable to see the originals in the spaces for which many of the Woka collection were designed. But also, sometimes those images conveyed essential information. For example, AD10, featured above, opens out like this:

Woka AD10 desk light on sideboard

which is why, besides being a very beautiful thing, it works so well as a desk light, or as a reading light if stood behind a chair on a surface of a suitable height.

Click on the Lobmeyr-like chandelier on the home page and you will find the selection of what is currently available. It changes, of course, as items are introduced and sold, but you will see not just very interesting works, like the Lalique at the top of this post, but also, for example, this...

Otto Wagner chandelier

...which is not just a chandelier by Otto Wagner, it is the chandelier that used to hang in the private dining room of the "Erste Villa Wagner" on the Hüttelbergstraße. The documentation that supports this attribution is listed, so €73,550 seems a small price to pay for such an important and striking historic piece.

Key buildings of the period have been important sources for specific items, such as the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, or the Sanatorium Purkersdorf. On the Projects page of the web site, these projects are explained and the items in the collection that derive from them are shown.

For example, this light, Dining 1...

Dining1 pendant light Josef Hoffmann woka

...was designed by Josef Hoffmann in 1903 for the Santorium Purkersdorf. Here is one of the pictures of them in situ:

Sanatorium Purkersdorf

Elsewhere on the site, in the Design section, there is a profile of Josef Hoffmann, and of the other designers and movements represented in the Woka collection. The result is a site that, besides being the place to find info about the Woka standard collection, is also a significant academic source of detailed information about the period and the movements, informed by experience of the objects themselves.

It supports a collection that is unashamedly aimed at people who take a deep interest in art, design and the provenance of fine lighting, so Fine Lighting News likes it immensely!

Woka focuses on a period that many people are getting to know a lot better as a result of a recent run of important exhibitions in Vienna, notably Gustav Klimt/Josef Hoffmann -- Pioneers of Modernism at the Belvedere, that featured a reconstruction of part of the Palais Stoclet, for which Woka re-issued a Hoffmann ceiling light. See our post about it here. The catalogue for this exhibition. and a monograph about Josef Hoffmann are available via our bookshop.

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New early 20th century Viennese re-editions from Woka

Woka Lift tall floor light Die neuzeitliche Wohnung Woka have released another batch of their fabulously well-produced collection of lights from the early 20th Century in Vienna -- designs by Josef Hoffmann, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Kolo Moser, and this stunning floor light that was shown at the Neuzeitliche Wohnung exhibition about modern flats staged in Vienna in 19030/31.

The light can be adjusted up and down as the cable passes through the curved tube at the top...

Woka Lift floor light detail

...the effect of which can be seen in these period pictures:

Woka Lift floor light period images

It comes in polished brass or nickel, is H200cm, W55cm, takes a 60W lamp and costs €3,400.

By the way, this system was obviously appreciated in Vienna at the time, because the Reibe wall light from the Werstätten collection that the 130-year-old firm Kalmar is building from its archive does the same thing:

Kalmar Reibe wall light

But when,  in about 1923, an anonymous designer on the periphery of the Bauhaus wanted to create a floor-standing reading light with the same range of adjustment, they used a different mechanism to create this fabulous machine:

Tecnolumen floor light reading light BH23Woka, Kalmar, Tecnolumen....unintentionally we've got the three most important sources of early 20th century Austro-German designs into one post!


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Woka: Josef Hoffmann ceiling light for the Palais Stoclet

Woka Josef Hoffmann Palais Stoclet ceiling light 1Woka have supplied several of the Josef Hoffmann Palais Stoclet ceiling lights for the magnificent exhibition at the Lower Belvedere in Vienna, Gustav Klint/Josef Hoffmann -- Pioneers of Modernism. It closes at the end of this week, but fortunately the equally excellent catalogue Gustav Klimt/Josef Hoffmann: Pioneers of Modernism (which, thanks to its many illustrations and copious essays, will become an essential text on the subject) continues to be available.

It is a reminder of just how seminal the movements in Vienna at this time were, not only to 20th century interior design (truly "pioneers of modernism"!), but also to the development of suitable fittings to take electric light -- which was a new and exciting thing at this time.

The exhibition's effectiveness results partly from two spectacular life-size recreations. One is of the left lateral hall of the of the 1902 Beethoven Exhibition, which affords a unique opportunity to understand Gustav Klimt's confusing, troubling masterpiece -- the frieze that he created for this space.

klimt_hoffmann_beethoven exhibitionThe other is of part of the hall in the Palais Stoclet in Brussels (in the back of this image, behind one of the excellent models):

"Gustav Klimt/Josef Hoffmann - Pioniere der Moderne"  (24.10.2011)This was arguably the most important Wiener Werkstätte commission, since they were given full responsibility for the architecture and the interior design of this remarkable building, and most of the members worked on it.

You can see Josef Hoffmann's ceililng lights in the image above. Here is a detail, photographed in Woka's workshop:

Woka Stoclet detailA shaped punch could have been made to apply these patterns but the result would have been dead. To get the life that the hands of a craftsman add, they are made instead by hammering the pattern out with a point.

This ceiling light is Ø35cm, made of brass (lightly patinated), with crystal balls and an opaline glass diffuser. The quality of the craftsmanship matches the quality of this important design. It costs €6,200.

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