Josef Hoffmann was born on 15.12.1870 in Pirnitz, in a bourgeois house. His father was the mayor of Pirnitz in the Moravia district.
Hoffmann was supposed to become a lawyer according to his father's wish, but he was more attracted to technology. His parents sent him to the State Trade School in Brno, from where Josef Hoffmann brought home excellent grades. He then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.
With the banker Fritz Wörndorfer and the painter Koloman, he founded the Wiener Werkstätte in 1903, for which he designed many products. Out of a fundamental apolistic nature, Hofmann welcomed the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany in 1938. Hoffmann hoped that the annexation would bring an economic upswing and revitalize his architectural practice.
After the Second World War, Hoffmann took on various official tasks, such as that of Austrian Secretary General, at the Venice Biennale and membership of the Austrian Art Senate.
In 1950 he founded, together with Albert Paris Gütersloh, the Förderation moderner bildender Künstler.
Hoffman died at the age of 86 on May 7, 1956, and his widow Carla Hoffmann entrusted the Wittman furniture workshops with the rights to her husband's designs. Wittmann began to reproduce Hoffmann furniture in the 1970s, including the models of the famous cube on which also resulted the rather joking nickname of Josef Hofmann: Quadratl-Hoffmann.