written by:
January 19, 2011

Hungarian architect and designer Lajos Kozma (1884–1948) made an indelible mark on early-20th-century European design with his drawings, buildings and furniture that drew upon traditional Hungarian motifs yet showed an unprecedented bent toward modernism. Born in the small village of Kiskorpad, Kozma traveled to Budapest around the turn of the 20th century to study architecture at Budapest Imperial Joseph College. After graduating, he joined the “Young Ones,” a group of designers who studied Hungarian folk art and architecture and created furniture. “But they couldn’t get commissions,” notes Judith Hoffman, a Kozma collector and owner of Szalon in Los Angeles. “Kozma was young, he was Jewish, and he had these new ideas in very conservative times.” Following the model set by the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), formed in 1903 to promote Austrian art and craftsmanship, in 1913 Kozma formed the Budapest Muhely, or Budapest Workshop. Click through the slideshow below to see Kozma’s designs, as well as a selection of his drawings and buildings.

A high-back, neo-Baroque chair by Kozma, most likely from the 1920s. Original images of this chair show a fanciful upholstery pattern depicting traditional Hungarian motifs; Hoffman replaced the shredded fabric found on this chair with red velvet, as she
A high-back, neo-Baroque chair by Kozma, most likely from the 1920s. Original images of this chair show a fanciful upholstery pattern depicting traditional Hungarian motifs; Hoffman replaced the shredded fabric found on this chair with red velvet, as she says it reminds her of a throne. Photo courtesy Szalon.
1 / 16
A circa 1920s neo-Baroque (or “Kozma-Baroque,” says Hoffman) stool, in silver-leaf over wood with new green velvet. 18 in. x 19 in. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
A circa 1920s neo-Baroque (or “Kozma-Baroque,” says Hoffman) stool, in silver-leaf over wood with new green velvet. 18 in. x 19 in. Photo courtesy Szalon.
2 / 16
A rare, five-foot-tall walnut secretary that Kozma designed around the 1930s. The cabinet bears an intricate starburst inlay, and the piece has its original hardware. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
A rare, five-foot-tall walnut secretary that Kozma designed around the 1930s. The cabinet bears an intricate starburst inlay, and the piece has its original hardware. Photo courtesy Szalon.
3 / 16
A detail of the secretary’s starburst inlay. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
A detail of the secretary’s starburst inlay. Photo courtesy Szalon.
4 / 16
A 1930s armchair manufactured by the Heisler factory. Hoffman matched the back panel’s original linoleum with a rust-colored material. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
A 1930s armchair manufactured by the Heisler factory. Hoffman matched the back panel’s original linoleum with a rust-colored material. Photo courtesy Szalon.
5 / 16
The armchair’s back is suspended by a modern bent-chrome bar. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
The armchair’s back is suspended by a modern bent-chrome bar. Photo courtesy Szalon.
6 / 16
Kozma’s cane-back armchair, circa 1930s, in French-polished beechwood. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
Kozma’s cane-back armchair, circa 1930s, in French-polished beechwood. Photo courtesy Szalon.
7 / 16
A circa 1930s zebrawood table, which folds out to double in size with a white-linoleum surface. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
A circa 1930s zebrawood table, which folds out to double in size with a white-linoleum surface. Photo courtesy Szalon.
8 / 16
A 1930s side chair reveals Kozma’s occasional leanings toward Chinoiserie and Orientalism in his designs. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
A 1930s side chair reveals Kozma’s occasional leanings toward Chinoiserie and Orientalism in his designs. Photo courtesy Szalon.
9 / 16
Buried within the intricacies of this piece are modernized tulips, a common motif in Hungarian art and design.
Buried within the intricacies of this piece are modernized tulips, a common motif in Hungarian art and design.
10 / 16
A particularly geometric work representing the city of Budapest.
A particularly geometric work representing the city of Budapest.
11 / 16
Kozma’s weekend home on Lupa Island in the Danube, 1935. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
Kozma’s weekend home on Lupa Island in the Danube, 1935. Photo courtesy Szalon.
12 / 16
Kozma designed this semidetached Budapest house in 1931. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
Kozma designed this semidetached Budapest house in 1931. Photo courtesy Szalon.
13 / 16
Kozma’s rendering for a house in Budapest, 1932. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.szalonantiques.com/">Szalon</a>.
Kozma’s rendering for a house in Budapest, 1932. Photo courtesy Szalon.
14 / 16
Kozma, at right, with clients at the home he designed for them in the Hungarian village of Pókaszepetk–Taszilópusztai in 1935. Subjected to new “Jewish laws,” the family was forced to give up their home in 1947 and was relocated to Budapest. After the war
Kozma, at right, with clients at the home he designed for them in the Hungarian village of Pókaszepetk–Taszilópusztai in 1935. Subjected to new “Jewish laws,” the family was forced to give up their home in 1947 and was relocated to Budapest. After the war the property was nationalized and later destroyed. Photo courtesy Szalon.
15 / 16
A 1947 portrait of Lajos Kozma. “Hungarian tradition does not mean doing what our predecessors have already done,” he wrote in 1926. “What it means is doing what our predecessors did: standing on the bridge between East and West, welding our oriental flav
A 1947 portrait of Lajos Kozma. “Hungarian tradition does not mean doing what our predecessors have already done,” he wrote in 1926. “What it means is doing what our predecessors did: standing on the bridge between East and West, welding our oriental flavour, provincial freshness, pride of peasants and flare for decoration with the refined erudition of the west…. New can only be created along the boundaries of the spirit of the times.” Photo courtesy Szalon.
16 / 16
A high-back, neo-Baroque chair by Kozma, most likely from the 1920s. Original images of this chair show a fanciful upholstery pattern depicting traditional Hungarian motifs; Hoffman replaced the shredded fabric found on this chair with red velvet, as she
A high-back, neo-Baroque chair by Kozma, most likely from the 1920s. Original images of this chair show a fanciful upholstery pattern depicting traditional Hungarian motifs; Hoffman replaced the shredded fabric found on this chair with red velvet, as she says it reminds her of a throne. Photo courtesy Szalon.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

30degree pendants by wrong.london
The Danish design brand never disappoints.
May 02, 2016
practical magic brooklyn renocation kitchen caesarstone countertop stainless steel ikea cabinetes green vola faucet
A creative couple flips the script on their family home, a former workman’s cottage on the northern edge of Brooklyn.
May 02, 2016
history lesson kansas city outdoor backyard facade porch saarinen round table emeco navy chairs
An architect pushes the vernacular architecture of Missouri into the modern realm.
May 02, 2016
mission possible san francisco renovation facade exterior french doors cedar
A dilapidated lot in San Francisco gets a second chance.
May 02, 2016
Eames Demetrios of Kcymaerxthaere
The Eames scion and "geographer-at-large" traverses the globe on behalf of Kcymaerxthaere, a network of markers and monuments that tells fictional tales about real-life communities.
May 02, 2016
marcel breuer architect letter office kansas city snower house
See a glimpse into the office of a master architect.
May 01, 2016
Santa Monica living room with an Yves Klein coffee table
Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron talks us through Dwell's May 2016 issue.
May 01, 2016
house that sottsass built maui hawaii memphis group home renovation ettore facade colored volumes
In Maui, of all places.
May 01, 2016
two of a kind padua italy matching family homes facade green roof doors color
For Dwell's annual issue dedicated to dream homes , we visited homes from Haiti to Italy. Here, we introduce you to the photographers and writers who made it happen.
April 30, 2016
houseofweek
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 30, 2016
W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016
n0a6974 dxo
Architect Diego Revollo refreshes an apartment with a standout kitchen.
April 29, 2016
img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
gramercy 1 ar53319
A family doesn’t have to travel far for a private oasis away from the busy city.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016
the garden inside concrete dining pavilion indoor outdoor custom cabinets thermador dishwasher refrigerator
A skylit conservatory doubles as a verdant dining parlor in Sonoma County, California.
April 28, 2016
Details of the Calico collection.
Calico Wallpaper founders Nick and Rachel Cope showed us through their home in our March Issue, now step inside their studio.
April 28, 2016
william krisel pow 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
April 27, 2016
Dwell on Design and designjunction at ArtBeam
It's all part of Dwell on Design + designjunction's three-day event, featuring a program of talks chock-full of leading figures in design, architecture, urbanism, and beyond—coming up May 13-15 at ArtBeam in New York.
April 27, 2016
seattles mariners floating house prefab facade exterior fiber cement panels
A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.
April 27, 2016
royan treatment living room stone fireplace vintage new furnishings
French designer Florence Deau effortlessly mixes the old with the new.
April 27, 2016
modern netherlands 13 noordeinde schoolhouse parquet herringbone floors stove
Take a lesson from this school-turned-home.
April 27, 2016
The sidewalks of Copacabana in Rio De Janero, Brazil, designed by Roberto Burle Marx
The Jewish Museum in New York City takes it outside with a celebration of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
April 26, 2016
Waterfront home in Belvedere, California
A 1960s home infested with powderpost beetles had to be sacrificed before this this Zen-inspired house could happen.
April 26, 2016