Lobmeyr Glass: A Family of Innovation

Glass is a material that has transfixed the attention of humans since its discovery in ancient Mesopotamia. The strength, translucence and shine of glass is undeniably beautiful. Lobmeyr, an Austrian glass company, founded in 1823 has been defining the path of modern glassware for well over a century. An equally impressive feat is that Lobmeyr is currently a sixth-generation family business. The commitment to innovative design and impeccable craftsmanship has allowed Lobmeyr to ride the crest of modernity, forming collaborative bonds with some of the 20th century’s most prized creative minds. In this post, we will uncover the dense heritage of Lobmeyr: exploring the evolution of design along with special antidotes of family history from Leonid Rath.

Josef Hoffmann B Series_Huzza Blog

Josef Hoffmann Portrait_Huzza BlogIn the early 1900s, Stefan Rath instilled one of the first collaborations with the architect Josef Hoffmann (pictured on the right with his Patrician series) for Lobmeyr. Hoffmann, a leader of the Wiener Werkstätte and architectural pioneer, created the Hoffmann B Series, shown above, in 1912. Lobmyer put the series to production in 1914, its simple form and striking use of dark lines was incredibly bold for the time, a strong display of new modernist ideals.
Lobmeyr Glass Huzza_Oswald Haerdtl
Did the success of Stefan Rath and Josef Hoffmann’s collaboration instill Lobmeyr’s interest in working with forward thinking minds and specifically designers?
[LR: ] Prior to Stefan Rath, Ludwig Lobmeyr was a very curious and forward thinking man, trying new techniques and working with the best designers of the Monarchy. Since we didn’t have a glass factory we were scanning all the possibilities regularly and tested many techniques, like Bronzit etching with Hoffmann for example. This has continued today, for Ted Muehling’s butterflies we developed a new way of engraving most realistic structure of the wings. Mark Braun’s Glacier engravings or Sebastian Menschhorn’s Glacier vase introduced new techniques in order to bring the idea of the design to life. Of course we knew soon, that open mindedness paired with perfection in design and craftsmanship is kind of our Unique Selling Point as you say today, so we enjoy developing this strategy and our customers appreciate it.

Beyond working with Josef Hoffmann, Lobmeyr also collaborated with the architects Oswald Haerdtl and Adolf Loos. Hoffmann and Haerdtl both enjoyed pushing the boundaries of crafting muslin glass: glass that is strong but extremely thin of only 0.7-1.1mm. Muslin glass is used in Hoffmann’s Patrician glass series as well as Oswald Haerdtl’s Candy Dish (sketch shown to the right). Haerdtl’s Candy Dish displays the strength of muslin glass through the use of delicate form and utilitarian needs.

Designs from the early 20th century are nearly 100 years old. What do you think allows these collections to stand the test of time?
[LR: ] The Lobmeyr designs of this period are so strong, because their contrast to what had been designed before and alongside. They are the archetypes of modern design, as they combine the abilities of material and craftsmanship with human need for function and aesthetics so radically and perfectly. The fresh input of foreigners to glass (mostly architects) is translated to glass by skilled and experienced Lobmeyr craftsman. It is a passion of ours to find the perfect shapes and details for today and maybe tomorrow’s needs. Of course a lot is trial and error, but in craftsmanship it is easier to afford developing nine bad prototypes for one perfect product.

Adolf Loos’ collaboration with Lobmeyr has become an archetype in modern glass design and is a testament to Lobmeyr’s strength in finding innovative perspectives to apply to glass making. Loos’ unwavering ideals, and strict studies of form helped in defining the shape of a typical water glass today. This simple change in form has revolutionized how people interact with glass. Loos also pushed Lobmeyr to develop an extremely time consuming diamond-cut pattern; in which each line is hand cut and matte-polished, this process is shown in the image below. The diamond-cut pattern has been implemented in recent Lobmeyr collaborations with Ted Muehling.

Do you have a favorite family story concerning Lobmeyr or a moment that was specifically inspirational for you?
[LR: ] There are millions, that’s why I love my job. But it’s difficult to carve out just one. I can say, that the cooperation with Murray Moss and Ted Muehling shaped the understanding of ourselves today tremendously, as well as my father and reading the autobiography of Ludwig Lobmeyr. Maybe the latter was very important, as I learned that he wasn’t a stiff 19th century mummy, but a very open minded and passionate personality. He writes how he learned from the designers who worked for him and how his taste improved gradually. Very modest and always eager to learn and do things better.

Lobmeyr Huzza Blog Diamond Cut Glass

What does the Rath family imagine and hope to uncover in the 21st century?
[LR: ] There is a lot going on in our material culture. People are fed up, by the loads of junk they are supposed to buy and many are trying to limit the quantity of their consumption and rather look for quality. What has quality? Things, which are true, keep their promises and even surpass them. Properly designed and made things don’t get boring with time they get a part of you and give joy every time you use them. You won’t throw them away and if you love them you care for them and they will survive longer. That’s a necessary shift for the 21st century, and we want to be part of that.
Lobmeyr Glass Huzza_Ted Muehling_Huzza Blog
It is safe to say that Lobmeyr is a quality brand, that is true to their passions and consistently striving for more. It was a pleasure to talk with Leonid Rath, he and his family have proved to be honest craftsmen and forward thinkers, ensuring products that challenge and inspire the modern man. We salute Lobmeyr’s process of pursuing the most innovative ideas while cherishing quality and, as always, are excited to see what’s next.

Lobmeyr Glass Huzza_Ted Muehling
Screen shot 2014-04-01 at 3.58.59 PM

Photography: Lobmeyr Archives, Cody MacCready
By: Kate Bonsted

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One Response to Lobmeyr Glass: A Family of Innovation

  1. Margie Alford says:

    It’s a beautiful, memorable store.
    I was there about 25 years ago,
    And selected glass fruits for a chandelier. I’ll always remember the great service, and I hope to return to
    Vienna and lobmeyr.

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