It has been 70 years since the world famous architect, applied artist, graphic designer and educator Lajos Kozma passed away. To honour this exceptional creator, as a part of the Kozma Commemorative Year in 2018, Kunsthalle is launching a major series of programmes in conjunction with the Museum of Applied Art, the Hungarian Museum of Architecture and the Lajos Kozma Woodworking Vocational School at the Budapest Complex Center of Vocational Training (BKSzC), which sets out to highlight the importance of artistic (vocational) training and traditional crafts by showcasing Kozma’s diverse oeuvre and complex design philosophy.
One of the highlights of the series will be the exhibition entitled Classic Kozma. The Budapest Workshop and Lajos Kozma.
Lajos Kozma’s early architectural and graphic design works were characterised by the folk-inspired Art Nouveau endeavors that were so pronounced in the work of Károly Kós. From 1911, Kozma worked for three years alongside Béla Lajta. Then, in 1913, he established the Budapest Workshop with the aim of revitalising home decor. The distinctive furniture items that he designed in the 1920s have become classics. Two of his residential buildings from this period stand out in particular: the Austerlitz Building in Budapest (1924), and the Kner Villa in Gyomaendrőd (1925). In the nineteen-thirties his style – similarly to that of his contemporaries – became more clean-lined, as he turned towards a flavour of building and interior design that took its cues from the school of modernism, creating such exceptional works as the Átrium Building in Budapest or the holiday homes on Lupa Island. Besides his work as a graphic designer and architect, he had a prominent role in applied art education and architectural training in Hungary, teaching at the School of Industrial Design, the College of Applied Art and the Budapest University of Technology. He was one of the most internationally published Hungarian architects of his day, with his architectural, interior design and graphic design work featured in some 70 Hungarian and foreign journals. These, together with his theoretical work, had a huge influence on the applied art of his contemporaries.
The exhibition focuses on a less widely known part of his oeuvre, namely on the operation of the Budapest Workshop, a defining period in Kozma’s artistic career that was instrumental in establishing his reputation as an artist, and on the graphic design and illustration work that he conducted in parallel with this.
The Budapest Workshop, run by Kozma from 1913 to 1919, was a unique undertaking in Hungary at the beginning of the last century which, maintaining high standards of craftsmanship, created some outstanding examples of Hungarian art deco. The Budapest Workshop specialised primarily in furniture making, but also made and sold a variety of other home furnishings, lamps, mirrors and home textiles, all of which were designed by Kozma himself. The exceptionally well-crafted home furnishings, while unmistakably bearing the hallmarks of his own unique creative style, blended elements of the Renaissance, Baroque, British neoclassicism and Biedermeier styles of furniture design with the traditional motifs of Hungarian folk art.
Much of Kozma’s graphic design work from this period was born of his close professional relationship with the Kner Press in Gyoma. From 1917 onwards, the printing house regularly published books by contemporary authors illustrated with Kozma’s drawings, but the unique typography of the Kner Press was also a result of their collaboration.
To mark the Kozma Commemorative Year, during the exhibition we will be holding a two-day conference at Kunsthalle, where speakers will analyse Lajos Kozma’s oeuvre and the current situation of applied art education and woodworking vocational training in Hungary.
As an accompaniment to the exhibition, the Lajos Kozma Woodworking Vocational School will also be running a number of creative workshops in the exhibition spaces of Kunsthalle.