Hermann Obrist (1862-1927) Swiss Sculptor and Designer

Hermann Obrist was a Swiss sculptor and designer. He was most active in Germany. A leading figure in the evolution of Jugendstil in Munich, Obrist was inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, which he had experienced when he visited Britain in 1897.

Early Career

He studied medicine and natural sciences and from 1888, ceramics. Subsequently, he ended up studying sculpture in Paris. In 1886, prompted by a vision of a radiant city, he turned to art. In 1892, he settled in Florence, concentrating on marble techniques. In 1895, he established a studio for embroidery in Munich. Following the lead of Koloman Moser’s and Josef Hoffmann’s Wiener Werkstatte, in 1897, Obrist, Peter Behrens, Bruno Paul, Bernhard Pankok, and Richard Riemerschmid founded the Miinchner Vereinigte Werkstatten fiir Kunst im Handwerk (The Munich United Workshops for Art in Handwork). It aimed to sell everyday objects designed by Modem artists. Obrist was one of the leading designers of the Jugendstil and designed furniture and textiles. 

1899 – Model Hermann Obrist


In 1896, he gained particular critical attention when he displayed 35 embroideries, demonstrating how natural forms were reinterpreted more abstractly.

Obrist displayed furniture at the 1900 Paris Exposition in Riemerschmid’s Room for the Art Lover. He went on to influence the curriculum of the Lehr and Versuchs-Atelier für Angewandte und Freie Kunst (Teaching and Study Studio for Applied and Free Art), founded in 1903, at the School of Applied Arts of Wilhelm Debschitz. Obrist continued as a prolific writer, teacher, and propagandist in architecture.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King.

Oxford University Press. (2004). A Dictionary of Modern Design (1st ed.).

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