Sunday, March 6, 2011

Modernism, Quilts & the Wiener Werkstatte

Digitally leafing through an old catalog about art and design from Vienna's Wiener Werkstatte (Viennese Workshop) I came across this illustration....Patchwork pillows as hot new design in 1916.
I've posted about the influence of the German early-20th-century design workshop the Bauhaus and how their modern style parallels quilt design.

A shop selling crafts from the Wiener Werkstatte
 at a time when ruffled
Priscilla curtains were cutting edge decor.

The pillows above from the Austrian workshop show the same parallels between patchwork quilts and modernism.

WW Designers made good use of the simplest shapes

In ceramics

In interior design.
Is that polkadot item a stove????

In fashion.
( I posted about the artist Mela Koehler recently.)

And textiles

Here's the best source on the textiles,
Angela Volker's book Textiles of the Wiener Werkstatte

A few quilts the Viennese avant garde would have enjoyed displaying.
Early 20th century

Mid 20th century

Early 20th century

Mid twentieth century

Twentieth century Amish

Early twentieth century

The catalog with the black and white illustrations above is
Österreichische Werkkultur By Max Eisler, Österreichischer Werkbund, Vienna, 1916.
Read it at Google Books


Read more about the Wiener Werkstatte here

My guess is this postcard says:
Viennese cafe; the intellectual.
Post Script: Annelies in the comments translates:
Der Litterat is not an intellectual, it is a second-rate writer.
 His sheet of paper is empty so I think this one hasn't much inspiration.


  1. This is very interesting, I have always said, nothing is really new, it just gets recycled in a new way.

  2. In the Wiener Werkstätte worked important artists such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. They made beautiful things but never for mass production.
    Der Litterat is not an intellectual, it is a second-rate writer. His sheet of paper is empty so I think this one hasn't much inspiration.

  3. Love your posts! The polkadotted item is indeed a stove or 'Kachelofen' in German. When I go on holiday in Austria, I like to stay at bed & breakfasts in old farmhouses (Bauernhof). Most still have huge tiled stoves/fireplaces in the kitchen/livingroom area.

  4. I always laugh at todays 'modern' quilt patterns which arent very different from the quilting I did in the 90s and now I see probably the previous century.

  5. So very interesting.... hard to imagine my grandmother's generation loving this kind of stuff....

  6. I have to agree with the Irishgirlsews and Colleen! I have been sewing clothing for a while and I am just starting to get into quilts. It just cracks me up when I see "modern quilting" when there is nothing modern about it. It all has been done be for, and I don't think that these designers even realize it. I don't thing half of them have picked up an art history book to tell ya the truth. Yet alone a quilt history book. I, myself had just picked up a book for inspiration from the library "American Quilts, The Democratic Art" by: Robert Shaw. I was so blown away with what was made in the past and saddly you do not even see that today with the "modern quilting". *Sigh* lol!

  7. I loved to see Austria in your blog today - the polkadot item is a stove, and a real typical one too. This one is able to warm several rooms, only once fired in the morning and giving warmth until the evening.
    Roswitha, Austria