Austrian designer-entrepreneur Julius Theodor (J.T.) Kalmar was born in 1884 in Vienna. Son to Julius August Kalmar—founder of the eponymous company specializing in chandeliers and other cast bronze objects—Kalmar gained a wealth of design expertise in his formative years. Kalmar attended the Birmingham School of Art, as well as Vienna’s University of Applied Arts under Vienna Seccession architect Josef Hoffmann (1870 — 1956).
Kalmar joined his father’s company in 1906, eventually taking over in 1913. As a strong advocate of the Arts & Crafts movement, Kalmar guided the company away from the eclecticism of the late 19th century. Kalmar’s design aesthetic was characterized by an integration of form and function and a blend of classical tradition with forward-facing innovation. By the mid-1920s, his designs dominated the influential, avant-garde home furnishings shop Haus & Garten.
In the 1930s, Kalmar began collaborating with the Austrian Werkbund—an association founded by architects, artists, craftsmen, and manufacturers who were committed to modernist design principles. Kalmar created for the Werkbund a series of glass chandeliers and fixtures, which exuded meticulous construction and craftsmanship. Using traditional materials like glass, bronze, and brass, these designs lacked ornament, favoring instead a purist aesthetic.