Tulay Atak visits Ways to Modernism: Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos, and Their Impact at the MAK in Vienna.

These one-to-one reconstructions well display the sense of the relationship between things and objects of modernism and the spaces and the lives that had to be crafted, designed, and accommodated at the same time. In an attempt to recreate the intimacy of these worlds, the exhibition also presents some of the different forms and spaces of privacy in modernism. One of the goals of modern design, as the exhibition reminds us, was to organize, protect, or enhance that world.


Yet one thing the exhibition and the history it portrays shows is that so much of Loos and Hoffmann’s work have something to do with carving out a space for privacy and finding ways of public appearance, where Loos presents clear cut boundaries between public and private. Perhaps in tracing the trajectory of these two figures, the question that remains is what are the new private worlds, and how does architecture articulate these worlds? Perhaps this question could also expand the final positions presented in the exhibition.

In presenting a historical context through things and objects and placing architecture within that context, the exhibition brings forth a fresh history of an important moment in the history of modernism. In further emphasizing the role of design in the society, in positing that there are different ways that design can be social, the exhibition puts forward important questions.