Adolf Loos was one of the greatest pioneers of his time. Unimpressed by the concepts and ideas of architecture and design that were predominant in the early twentieth century, he decided to tread an uncompromising path to arrive at a functional form of architecture and design.
He did not believe in ornamentation or design and architecture governed by artistic parameters, which was also very evident in his work – not only as an architect and a designer but also as an author. After returning to Vienna, following a three-year stay in America, he went on to become one of the most radical supporters of a new school of thought that completely rejected all ornamental and non-functional elements. He was extremely meticulous in his selection of materials and designs for the interior as well as the exterior. However, clarity in architecture and design by no means implied that he gave short shrift to the creation of a pleasant atmosphere in the rooms he designed. In fact, he gave equal importance to modernity and comfort.
Later, Loos went on to create several masterpieces in Bohemia which fully displayed his reduction and abstraction of the exterior and the interior. In 1907, he designed the home of the entrepreneurial couple Martha and Wilhelm Hirsch. It was only in the 1980s that it was discovered this wasn’t the only design Loos realised for the Hirsch family. During the 1920s, almost at the same time as he was working on the Villa Müller in Prague, Loos also designed a bachelor’s apartment for Martha and Willy’s son Richard. This apartment was located in the same building as the better known Hirsch apartment, only on a different floor.
The preserved furnishings of Richard Hirsch's apartment were moved to Prague, installed a similarly configured flat close to the old Jewish cemetery. The apartment was suitably complemented by many rare original items, mostly from Loos’s Vienna realizations.
Also to be seen in the apartment are two of Loos’s best-known furniture designs, the padded armchairs known as the “Knieschwimmer”. The older one was manufactured around 1905 by the Austrian company F. O. Schmidt, and the shorter version from 1931 comes from the production of the Czech factory UP závody (originally in the apartment of the director of the Tatra factory, engineer Veverka). Later, Adolf Loos used similar chairs for the interior of Müller's villa in the Prague suburb of Střešovice. One version of these chairs was also installed in the Knize boutique on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
In the private study in the apartment of the Viennese businessman Georges Roy (designed by Loos in 1901-1904), there stood a folding table with a brass desk, which is now also part of the apartment in Prague.
In the corridor at the entrance of the apartment there is a unique large wardrobe from the Leschka & Co menswear store (originally at Spiegelgasse 13, Vienna). The cabinet was built in 1923 and is one of Loos’s major designs.
Other unique furniture items by Adolf Loos - an office armchair with armrests, a clock (originally in Ville Strasser, Gersthofen), several important lights, or his personal smoking set and other original designs by Adolf Loos - can be seen in the apartment.
Purchased in London, the round mahogany table with a marble top, known as the “Elefantenrüsseltisch” (1912, produced by F. O. Schmidt, using the same marble that Loos had selected for his interior of the American Bar in Vienna) and four rare chairs are from the estate of Dr. Valentin Rosenfeld, Loos's lawyer, of Jewish descent, who fled to Britain after the Nazis seized Vienna. These items were used by such illustrious guests as Sigmund Freud, a family relation of Dr Rosenfeld, or Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. Bought directly from Dr Rosenfeld’s son, the table and chairs originally occupied the music room at his father's apartment in Vienna (Wattmanngasse 11, Vienna).
Purchased in Prague, the set of crystal glasses with hand-carved bases and two carafes were produced by the Austrian firm J. & L. Lobmeyr around 1931. The first design of this series was created by Loos for his student, the Olomouc architect Paul Engelmann.
Recently, the surviving interior of Richard Hirsch’s apartment has been moved to another apartment of approximately the same size in Prague, close to and overlooking the Jewish cemetery. All parts of the interior were carefully examined and restored before they were put in place. Authentic techniques and the use of original materials were respected whenever replacements proved to be indispensable. Today, the Pilsner interior created for Richard Hirsch serves as an art gallery and an auction house, Adolf Loos Apartment and Gallery, in Prague. In 2014 the apartment joined the prestigeous international network of architectural designs Iconic Houses.
Solitaire furniture, which is part of Richard Hirsche's apartment, has been very successful several times at prestigious exhibitions in the Czech Republic and abroad, such as The Adolf Loos Exhibitionat the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, at The Au Temps de Klimt, la Sécession Viennain the Pinacotheque de Paris and others.
For its historical provenience and the unique originality of items designed by Adolf Loos between 1901 and 1931, this collection ranks among the most significant design collections in the world.
The apartment is accessible to the public by prior arrangement.
Professor Burkhardt Rukschcio, the most important expert on Adolf Loos and the author of the list of his works, provided an expert supervision over the restoration and the installation of the apartment.