Adolf Loos chairs
Adolf Loos chairs are items of late 19th/early 20th century furniture designed by the architect Adolf Loos.
Adolf Loos (1870 – 1933) was an Austro-Hungarian architect and designer, known for his minimalist style which influenced Modernist design and architecture in the 20th century.
Loos capitalised on the work done by German furniture designer Michael Thonet, who developed the mass-produced, steam-bent wooden chair known as the ‘Model 14 bentwood chair’.
He used the production techniques to create a variety of popular designs during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with his most famous design being the Cafe Museum chair created for the Café Museum in Vienna in 1898.
Guide for collectors
Loos designed a wide variety of chairs, ranging from the iconic, wooden ‘Cafe Museum’ chairs to upholstered easy chairs known as ‘Knieschwimmer’ lounge chairs. He also created leather-backed wooden side chairs, and circular-backed wooden ‘Elbow’ chairs.
A large number of his most famous furniture designs including chairs were produced by the Vienna manufacturer F.O Schmidt, which was founded in 1853 and remains in operation today. Collectors should also look out for manufacturers including the Austrian company J.J Kohn, who produced Loos’ Cafe Museum chairs circa 1898-99, and Thonet themselves who manufactured Loos’ designs including the chairs for the Café Capua in Vienna.
As Loos’ designs were highly influential, copies of his chairs dating from the same period are common. Buyers should always ensure the pieces have the correct manufacturer’s labels before considering a purchase.
Loos’ most iconic design, the Cafe Museum chairs produced by J.J Kohn in 1898, are amongst the most sought after by collectors and can sell for up to $10,000 at auction depending on condition.
The ebonized-wood Elbow chairs produced by F.O. Schmidt regularly sell for $3,000 - $9,000 in good condition, and the upholstered Knieschwimmer chairs have been known to sell for in excess of $20,000.