Adolf Loos
(1834 –  1904)

Adolf LoosAdolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos was an Austrian and Czechoslovak architect.

He was influential in European Modern architecture, and in his essay Ornament and Crime he abandoned the aesthetic principles of the Vienna Secession. In this and many other essays he contributed to the elaboration of a body of theory and criticism of Modernism in architecture.

  • "In our country people still believe that before a man can be entrusted with the design of a chair he must know the five orders of Greek columns inside out. I think that first and foremost he ought to know something about sitting! will certainly derive no benefit from a chair that is to be 'composed' from a wrong style of column."
  • "The lives we lead are at varience with the objects with which we surround ourselves. We forget we need a living room as well as a throne room, and are quite happy to let ourselves be physically abused by these pieces of furniture in antique styles. We bash or knees and etch complete ornaments into our backs, not to mention lower parts of our bodies. Over the last two decades the varying ornamentation of the handles of our bowls, jugs and vases has given us in turn renaissance, baroque, and rococo calluses on our hands."
  • “as a general principle a king should furnish his rooms like a king, an ordinary citizen like an ordinary citizen, and a peasant like a peasant...."
  • "Unscrupulous people have tried to turn us against our own times, telling us to look backwards, to take other ages as our models. Now the nightmare has flown. Yes, we live in beautiful times, times so beautiful that I would not exchange with any other."
  • "What do we understand by beauty? Complete perfection. It is, therefore, out of the question that something not satisfactorily performing its intended function can be beautiful."
  • "At the moment we not only demand of a chair that we can rest our bodies in it, but also that we can recover our energy quickly in it. Time is money, Thus resting has become specialised......different degrees of tiredness demand different techniques of resting....The English and the Americans, free of such pettiness, are real virtuosos in relaxation. In the course of this century they have invented more types of chair than all nations put together, in all countries, since the world began."
  • "Over the last few decades our leading firms have produced plain pieces of furniture, only they were never exhibited, and their manufacturers behaved as if they were ashamed fo them."
  • "I made the following discovery, which I passed on to the World: 'the evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornamentation from objects of everyday use'. I thought by doing so would bring joy to the world: it has not thanked me for it."
  • On ornament: "When I want to eat a piece of gingerbread, I choose a piece that is plain, not a piece shaped like a heart, or a baby, or a cavalryman, covered over and over with decoration. A fifteenth-century man would not have understood me, but all modern people will."
  • "Modern ornament has no parents and no offspring, no past and no future. Uncultivated people, for whom the greatness of our age is a closed book, greet it rapturously and then disown it after a short time."
  • "I have formulated the following principle: the form of an object should last, that is, we should find it tolerable as long as the object itself lasts."
  • "...if you want craftsmen in touch with the times, if you want artefacts in the style of the times, poison the architects."
  • "One should remember that quality materials and good workmanship do not simply make up for lack of ornamentation, they far surpass it in luxuriousness. More than that, they make ornamentation redundant."