Oskar Strnad: A Visionary of Applied and Decorative Arts


The Multifaceted Genius

Oskar Strnad, a prodigy born in 1879, was a man of myriad talents. As an architect, sculptor, designer, and set designer, Strnad was instrumental in shaping the Wiener Schule der Architektur, the Vienna School of Architecture. His philosophy was grounded in modernity, advocating for accessible “living” concepts across societal strata. This ethos permeated his works, from private dwellings to grand stage designs.

Oskar StrnadCigarette Box (model US 5084)1916
Oskar Strnad Cigarette Box (model US 5084)1916

A Confluence of Art and Architecture

Strnad’s architectural prowess was complemented by his remarkable contributions to the decorative arts. His teaching tenure at the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule paved the way for a generation of artists and architects carrying the torch of innovation. The legendary “round theatre” concept and his collaborative efforts in theatre design remain testaments to his visionary approach.

The Werkbund Connection and Decorative Legacies

Serving as the president of the Austrian Werkbund, Strnad’s collaboration with Stefan Rath of Lobmeyr birthed pioneering works like the “Strnad” jars, which are still celebrated today. His mastery over stage and set design echoed in the Lobmeyr stand at the 1925 Paris Exposition, winning the Grand Prix for its extraordinary presentation.

Architect Oskar Strnad 1879-1935 Pine & Cane Arm Chair 1920's Art Deco
Architect Oskar Strnad 1879-1935 Pine & Cane Arm Chair 1920’s Art Deco

The Vienna School and Modern Living

Strnad’s influence on the Vienna School of Architecture was profound. His approach was refreshingly informal and undogmatic, focused more on the essence of living than on representative edifices. His interiors for films like “Maskerade” and “Episode” exemplified his commitment to creating immersive environments that transcended the ordinary.

The Theatrical and the Domestic: A Dual Legacy

Strnad’s work encompassed both the grandeur of theatre and the intimacy of domestic spaces. His innovative stage designs for prominent operas and his role in the design of residential houses showcase his versatility. The Werkbundsiedlung housing estate and the distinct semi-detached houses in Vienna highlight his architectural genius.

Strnad Today: Reassessing a Master

Recent exhibitions have rekindled interest in Strnad’s legacy, illuminating his role in Viennese modernism. His theories and designs, alongside his pedagogical influence, continue to inspire and challenge contemporary notions of design and architecture.

Oskar Strnad was not just a creator of his time; he was a visionary who continues to spark conversations about the role of design in our lives. How might Strnad’s principles of “forming without form” and building ‘open worlds’ instead of ‘dungeons’ influence today’s design landscape? .


Lobmeyr. (n.d.). Oskar Strnad. Lobmeyr. Retrieved from https://www.lobmeyr.at/stories/oskar-strnad/

Österreichische Gesellschaft für Architektur. (n.d.). Oskar Strnad 1879-1935. ÖGFA. Retrieved from https://oegfa.at/programm/ausstellungsfuehrungen/oskar-strnad-1879-1935

Wikipedia contributors. (n.d.). Oskar Strnad. Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oskar_Strnad

Woka Lamps Vienna. (n.d.). Oskar Strnad. WOKA LAMPS VIENNA. Retrieved from https://www.woka.com/en/lexicon/oskar-strnad/

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