Born in Moravia, Hoffmann was an Austrian architect whose work was extremely important in the early development of modern architecture and design. He first studied under Otto Wagner in Vienna and in 1899 joined in the founding of the Vienna Secession, which, although influenced by the Art Nouveau movement, had a much more modernist approach. Beginning in 1899 he taught at the School of Applied Arts in Vienna and participated in 1903 in the establishment of the Wiener Wekstätte, a centre for arts and crafts, which he directed for almost 30 years. Hoffmann’s Purkersdorf Sanatorium (1903) was an important early work, and his Palais Stoclet (1905) in Brussels is considered to be his masterpiece. The exterior of that opulent structure achieved a monumental elegance not often associated with design based on straight lines and white squares and rectangles. Josef Hoffmann is widely regarded as one of the most important influences of XXth century design and decorative arts.