Master's Theses

“To design the future, one must first understand the past.”

The International Master of Interior-Architectural Design (IMIAD) programme has long examined the work of the architect – or, should I say, interior designer – Adolf Loos. In October 2014, I was part of a group that retraced some of Adolf Loos’s footsteps on an excursion led by Professor Wolfgang Grillitsch. A year later, in November 2015, the IMIAD programme published a call for master’s theses with a choice of two topics – one of which was “The Other Learning. Adolf Loos and Interior Design”. The topic was offered in combination with funding for a study trip to places where Adolf Loos lived and worked. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to not only write my thesis on a subject with a strong focus on architectural history, but also carry out fully funded local research! My internal pitch for the topic was accepted a short time later, and I set about writing a master’s thesis entitled “The Other Learning. Adolf Loos – Guiding Intellectual Force, Trailblazer, Role Model” under the supervision of Professor Wolfgang Grillitsch and Dr. Ing. Hans-Jürgen Breuning.

I started by researching Loos’s personal biography and preparing for my three-week study trip, which took me to Vienna, Brno, Prague and Pilsen. It was clear from the results of my preliminary research that my thesis should focus on Loos’s interiors in Pilsen. The other stops on my trip therefore primarily involved visits to rooms and spaces designed by Adolf Loos. In Vienna, this included the gentlemen’s outfitter Knize, the Loos building on Michaelerplatz, the Loosbar and the living room of Loos’s own apartment, which is now on display in the Wien Museum. I also took the opportunity to interview the Loos expert Dr Markus Kristan, who is responsible for the Loos collection held in the archives of the Albertina. I then travelled to Brno, the birthplace of Adolf Loos. I was fortunate to be able to stay with the art historian Lucie Valdhansova, who I had got to know when she guided us through Loos’s interiors in Pilsen a year earlier. Lucie now works at Villa Tugendhat, and gave me a fascinating tour of this impressive building by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It is amazing how much variety there is in the modern architecture of that period.

After stopping in Prague to see Loos’s Villa Müller, I then made my way to Pilsen – my final and most important destination. Although Adolf Loos’s interiors were opened up to the public as part of Pilsen’s year as the 2015 European Capital of Culture, they are the subject of far less detailed publications than his other buildings and designs. This makes them all the more rewarding as a research topic. Thanks to the art historian Magdalena Soukupová and the Loos expert Karel Zoch, I was able to both visit and fully document the interiors. As a result, we now have detailed plans of the rooms that have survived to this day.

Floor plan and photo of the Brummel appartment interior in Pilsen, Tschechische Republik

The experience of investigating and documenting spaces created by Loos went on to provide the foundation for an assessment of what we can learn from Adolf Loos. My analysis of his work focused on five key points: Homeliness, quality, spatial presentation, spatial boundaries and lighting mood. These five points highlight ways in which Adolf Loos can still be a role model for the interior designers of today.

In my opinion, interior designers need to have an understanding of the past and the work of Adolf Loos if they are to design the interiors of the future. I would like to thank the IMIAD programme – and in particular Professor Wolfgang Grillitsch and Dr. Ing. Hans-Jürgen Breuning – for the opportunity to write my master’s thesis in an international context.


Theresia Hug, IMIAD Alumna summer semester 2016

A hand full of Loos: didactic principle zur Vermittlung der wichtigsten Elemente der Looschen Architektur