Josef Hoffmann Sitzmaschine chair with adjustable back (model 670) c. 1905

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 504 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

The Sitzmaschine, or “machine for sitting,” was designed by Hoffmann for his Purkersdorf Sanatorium in Vienna. The sanatorium was one of the first important commissions given to the Wiener Werkstätte, a collaborative workshop founded in 1903 by Hoffmann and Koloman Moser and which espoused many of the British Arts and Crafts movement’s tenets of good design and high-quality craftsmanship. It represents one of Hoffmann’s earliest experiments in unifying a building and its furnishings as a total work of art.

The exposed structure and simplified forms of the Sitzmaschine make clear reference to the Morris chair, an adjustable-back Arts and Crafts chair pioneered by the English designer William Morris’s company in the late 1860s and widely imitated by other manufacturers in Europe and the United States. Hoffmann’s variant incorporates a fusion of decorative and structural elements typical of the Wiener Werkstätte style: the grid of squares piercing the rectangular back splat, the bentwood loops that form the armrests and legs, and the rows of knobs for adjusting the back. At the same time, the name Sitzmaschine and the chair’s rational simplification of forms and high finish emphasize the design’s allegorical celebration of the machine. J. & J. Kohn manufactured and sold this chair in a number of versions, most of which had cushions on the seat and back, until at least 1916. The Kohn firm produced many designs by Hoffmann, forming one of the first successful alliances between a designer and industry in Vienna.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
J. & J. Kohn, Vienna
Bent beechwood with sycamore panels
43 1/2 x 28 1/4 x 32" (110.5 x 71.8 x 81.3 cm)
Gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder
Object number
Architecture and Design

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].