The Austrian architect Adolf Loos (1870-1933) designed a set of drinking glasses in 1931 to be shown at the Exhibition of Interiors in Cologne.  His intention was to display to the public how an updated table setting should look.  Loos, who was known to have a simplified, rectangular and rectilinear design aesthetic chose the well-known glass manufacturer J. & L. Lobmeyr to execute his designs.  Through his extensive correspondence with the Lobmeyr owner and expert glass maker Stephan Rath, we are given insight into Loos’ intention and incredible attention to detail.  In one letter, Loos referred to the glasses as “the first attempt to give an adequate form to a new world-view in drinking glasses.”[1]   The beauty in the glass design is due to its shape; the thin glass sides were perfectly cut at a right angle against the heavier, “Karo cut” bottom. The delicate cutting on the bottom was hand done by Lobmeyr’s renowned experts.

The tumbler was in line with Adolf Loos’ belief that the absence of ornament was crucial in creating a progressive and aesthetically pleasing design.  His popular essay “Ornament and Crime” was published in 1908 and may have been inspired after his travels within the United States from 1893-1896.  He believed that “The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from objects of daily use.”[2] Whether designing modernist buildings or glassware, Loos never gravitated away from his beautifully simplistic forms.

 

Roshy Vultaggio is a graduate student in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies program offered jointly by the Parsons School of Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She is a Fellow in the museum’s Product Design and Decorative Arts Department.

 

[1] Vera Behalova, Journal of Glass Studies 16 (1974), 121.

[2] Carma Gorman, The Industrial Design Reader (2003), 76.

 

Bibliography

Behalova, Vera. 1974. “Adolf Loos and Glass Design: Loos’correspondence with Stephan Rath”. Journal of Glass Studies / The Corning Museum of Glass ; Corning Glass Center. 120-124.

Gorman, Carma. “Adolf Loos, “Ornament and Crime.” The Industrial Design Reader. New York: Allworth Press, 2003, 74-81.

Schmutzler, Robert. Art Nouveau. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1962, 244.

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