Haus & Garten – A Trend-Setting Viennese Company of the Interwar Years

Marlene Ott

The company Haus & Garten was founded in 1925 by the architects Josef Frank, Oskar Wlach, and Walter Sobotka and over the interwar years became the most influential furnishing house in Vienna. With its flexible and lightweight furniture models, colourful textiles, and anti-doctrinaire approach to interior decoration, Haus & Garten functioned as an opposite pole to the Wiener Werkstätte and contributed essentially to the development of the interior decoration movement “Neues Wiener Wohnen”. 

Josef Frank as the most important exponent of modern architecture in Austria was responsible for the furniture designs. His works are generally characterized by plain organic forms that nevertheless show a keen sense of detail. The production of the furniture, most of which was made of wood, was carried out by external craftsmen. Most of the furnishing house’s clients came from the liberal Jewish upper class. 

When Josef Frank emigrated to Stockholm in December 1933, Oskar Wlach continued to run the company in Vienna. Josef Frank went on working as an in-house designer for the Swedish furnishing company Svenskt Tenn. He built on his previous work done in Vienna in terms of both theory and form, thus further pursuing his ideas of casual living environments in Scandinavia. 

When Austria was annexed to the German Reich in March 1938, the company was taken over by the brothers Kalmar. In the 1950s, the architect Anna Lülja-Praun was put in charge of artistic matters, while the product range continued to comprise mostly furniture and textile designs by Josef Frank. The furniture production was still outsourced and carried out on demand. During the postwar years, renowned Viennese architects, such as Erich Boltenstern and Otto Niedermoser, were among the clients of Haus & Garten, besides numerous private customers.  

 

Lit.: Marlene Ott, Josef Frank (1885–1967) – Möbel und Raumgestaltung, doctoral thesis, Vienna 2009.

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