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About WOKA


Catalog excerpts

About WOKA - 1

Author Simon Keane-Cowell Zürich Switzerland History Repeating: WOKA’s iconic lighting designs You can never have enough of a good thing, so they say. But lovers of iconic lamps from the early 20th century were for decades deprived of the possibility of owning some of the most striking luminary pieces by the Wiener Werkstätte and the Bauhaus, having long fallen out of production. This is the story of WOKA, the Vienna-based manufacturer that set out to bring a significant slice history back to life. _ Coming around again: Vienna-based lighting manufacturer has made it its mission to reissue a raft of iconic early 20th-century designs. Shown here, Adolf Loos's 'Knize 55' pendant light The Greeks had a word for it. (OK. They had a lot of words.) Peripatetic. Meaning a meandering of sorts, a walking about, as opposed to a direct route.

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About WOKA - 2

Aristotle, it’s said, used to deliver his philosophical pearls of wisdom as he wandered about the Lyceum of ancient Athens. Great moments of creative thinking and activity arise from taking the road less travelled, it could be argued. Wolfgang Karolinsky’s own piece of peripateia saw him embark upon his adult life as a composer but decades later has him running one of the most design-committed design manufacturers internationally. As owner and CEO of WOKA, the Viennabased brand that has single-handedly introduced some of the most significant pieces of lighting design from the early 20th...

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About WOKA - 3

WOKA has acquired the production licences for over 200 lighting pieces by, among others, the celebrated Wiener Werkstätte and the Bauhaus. Seen here, Koloman Moser's 'Floege' from 1904 (top) and Josef Hoffmann's 1903 'Damensalon' wall lamp (above) While studying at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, the entrepreneurial young Karolinksy discovered a harmony of a different kind when he began to deal in antique design pieces, chief among them turn-of-the-20th-century furniture by Austria’s favourite creative son, architect and designer Josef Hoffmann. Commerce for...

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About WOKA - 4

WOKA chief Wolfgang Karolinsky has brought together a collection of the talents in his Vienna workshop. Here, a small team of designers and craftspeople faithfully manufacture some of the most seminal lighting designs from the last century Having positioned himself as an expert in the work of Hoffmann and his peers from the renowned Wiener Werkstätte – the Viennese collective of architects, designers and artists who brought a new, proto-modernist language to the applied arts – Karolinsky’s trajectory was to change direction again when he purchased a collection of original lamps from the...

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About WOKA - 6

Karolinsky deliberately keeps his team small in order to retain an overview of the company's operations and to guarantee that the hand-fabricated quality that comes with a WOKA product remains consistently high Often when history repeats itself, it’s nothing to be welcomed. In this case of Karolinsky and his company WOKA, which has dedicated itself for decades now to the quality reissuing of classic lighting designs from not only the Wiener Werkstätte, but also the Bauhaus and from French Art Deco, it’s something to be celebrated. Craftsmanship lies at the heart of the enterprise, with...

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About WOKA - 9

The designers whose work WOKA is licensed to produce reads like a Who's Who of design history. Shown here, 'BIL1/50' pendant light by the Wiener Werkstätte (top), Josef Hoffman's 'JH1' wall light (middle) and the Bauhaus 'Office 1' floor lamp (above) The designers whose work WOKA is licensed to produce read like a Who’s Who of the Vienna design pantheon. In addition to Hoffmann and Koloman Moser, the manufacturer has reissued striking table, ceiling, wall and floor lamps, as well as chandelier pieces, by the likes of Adolf Loos, Otto Wagner and Carl Witzmann. Commerically minded Karolinsky...

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About WOKA - 11

Iconic lighting from WOKA: 'CR1' chandelier by Josef Hoffmann (top) and Adolf Loos's 'Brioni' chandelier (above) Designs that take to stage a second time, particularly after a long absence, aren’t with their own set of problematics, however. ‘Original’, ‘reissue’, ‘reproduction’. It may just seem like a bunch of semantics, but attending each of these terms is a particular value. At what point is a classic design no longer faithful to its original iteration once it’s been subjected to modifications, ones due either to changes in technology or to shifts in market appeal or consumer need? For...

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About WOKA - 13

WOKA-produced lamps are particularly valued by architects and designers for their quality and aesthetics. Seen here, the Vienna State Opera (top) and the Purkersdorf Sanatorium in Vienna, designed by Josef Hoffmann (above) But how does Karolinsky decide how far an old design can be modified? ‘Trial and error. We have a team of young designers working for WOKA and they make small changes. They might take an old Adolf Loos and change the colour of the wire, for example. If the reaction is a good one, we keep it. If not, we go back to the original model.’ This responsive approach to the market...

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About WOKA - 14

High-end projects provide the perfect home for WOKA lighting products: Otto Wagner Vienna Stadtbahn architecture (top) and the Harry Winston salon at Harrods, London (above) It’s precisely this dynamic, flexible way of working, combined with an extensive product offering, that has seen WOKA develop a significant presence beyond the German-speaking countries. Exporting over 90% of their products, WOKA’s key markets are now the US and the UK, with the latter operating as a gateway to Russia and the Middle East because, as Karolinsky puts it quite simply, ‘they love British interior...

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About WOKA - 15

Sanatorium and the American Bar, to the Gild Hall hotel in New York and Amsterdam’s Central Station, the cream of Wiener Werkstätte, Bauhaus and Art Deco lighting design has been installed in some of the most memorable, high-end spaces internationally. Woka CEO, Wolfgang Karolinsky: 'Our workshop is producing in the same way as the Wiener Werstätte did. We never wanted to be a big company, just a company that is able to deliver quality' Job done, you’d think. But not so. Resting on one’s laurels is an expression you certainly can’t apply to Karolinsky. As commercial custodian, as it were,...

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