At the beginning of the 20th century Josef Hoffmann, Kolo Moser and the industrialist Fritz Werndorfer founded the ‘Wiener Werkstätte’. In order to protect traditional handicraft from mass-production they designed exclusive handmade everyday objects and gave them the aura of art. At the same time they tried to find an alternative to old representative art forms favored by the rulers of Austria which shaped the picture of Vienna at this time. When they started to design architecture which they filled with their handmade furniture and their handmade objects their work became a concept that led to an idea of a different society based on pure aesthetics: they tried to create a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’.
Under which circumstances could such a concept develop? The design of the ‘Wiener Werkstätte’ is still very modern and popular while the concept of the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ is not relevant anymore. But why? Do we need a similar utopia today? If one wants to get an idea ‘why’ one has to take a closer look at the development of the concept ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ in relation to its historic background.