A leading figure in the evolution of Jugendstil in Munich, Obrist was influenced in his creative outlook by the Arts and Crafts Movement, which he had encountered when visiting Britain in 1897. Obrist had studied the natural sciences at Heidelberg and applied arts at Kalsruhe before setting up a tapestry workshop in Florence in 1892. He moved his workshop to Munich two years later and, 1895, was featured in the periodical Pan. He attracted particular critical attention in 1896 when he exhibited 35 embroideries that showed the ways in which natural forms were reinterpreted in a more abstract fashion. Bringing together his interests in the natural sciences and the applied arts, his famous dramatic ‘Alpenveilchen’ (Alpine Violet) tapestry, with its flowing organic ‘Whiplash’ rendering of the plant, has become almost a visual trademark of the Jugendstil. Such work influenced August Endell, especially the latter's external decoration on the Elvira photographic studio (1897–8). Together with Richard Riemerschmid, Bruno Paul, and others, Obrist was one of the founding members of the influential Munich Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk (United Workshops for Art in Handcraft) in 1897 and worked in ceramics, tapestry, embroidery, and metalwork. As a crafts collective with their own workshops, the workshops sought to design aesthetic everyday objects and soon put their organization on a commercial footing. Obrist exhibited furniture in Riemerschmid's Room for an Art Lover at the 1900 Paris Exposition. He went on to influence the curriculum of Wilhelm Debschitz's school of applied arts, the Lehr und Versuchs‐Atelier für Angewandte und Freie Kunst (Teaching and Research Studio for Applied and Free Art), established in 1903. Obrist continued as a prolific writer, teacher, and design propagandist.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art — Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.