Have you ever wondered what a bourgeois dining room from 1924 looked like? Probably not, right? I have to admit, until this room mate moved in I had no idea what kind of furniture people sat on to eat about 100 years ago.
However, you will not find a sonorous name like "Teodora". The only indication that this is dining room furniture is provided in "German Art and Décor" from 1924. This publication provides some insight into the tastes of the time, since it reflects the trends of contemporary (furniture) design. 1)
The chair was designed by the architect Karl Bertsch (1873 - 1933) and produced by the "Deutschen Werkstätten Hellerau-Dresden und München [German Workshops Hellerau-Dresden and Munich]". Bertsch was the Managing Director of the Munich branch of this workshop association. Its other location was first in the center of Dresden, but was then moved to the outskirts of the city, to Hellerau. The reason for this was an expansion of the production site as well as the desire to create a closer connection between working and living. This is how Germany's first garden city arose in 1909, planned by Richard Riemerschmid among others.
The social-reformative ideology of the garden city movement wanted to provide workers with enough rental apartments close to the workshop. This was to be supplemented with a school with connected dormitory, physician's practices, and a market square, a public bath, and a festival hall. It was important to the founder of the company, Karl Schmidt, that his employees continued their education and drew motivation for their work from this way of life.
I could say ls more about this exciting movement which started in Great Britain, but would like to return to our wooden room mate.
It is still covered by the original horse hair cover with a frame made from maple. The back is made from the very rare and expensive flamed maple. Also designed as a serial product (like me), it did address a completely different customer segment. It was described as follows in the company catalogue:
"The […] furniture is not for those who buy furniture like any arbitrary magazine good and have lost sight of authenticity due to claims such as "pure style", "real Louis Seize" or "Art Nouveau", "Secession style" etc. It was designed and produced for those who appreciate the quality of the work, its simplicity and solidity. Our hand-made furniture does not strive to be the latest, just the best. However, if your primary concern is price, you will not find anything here. If you want quality but only have a limited budget, you will find what you are looking for in the price list of Dresdner Hausgerät [Dresden household appliances]."2)
You see. The idea behind our designs could not be more different. But that is exactly what makes my living community so exciting! The variety.
For more stories about my room mates go here
1. Chair in the Werner Löffler Collection
If you would like to learn more about Karl Bertsch and the Deutsche Werkstätten, I have a few ideas for you:
- Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau: www.dwh.de
- Deutsche Kunst and Dekoration [German Art and Decor]: illustrated monthly journal for modern painting, sculpture, architecture, residential art, and women's crafts (1897-1932) – digital: http://deutsche-kunst-dekoration.uni-hd.de
- Wiesner, Maria (02.10.2016). Werkstätten Hellerau - The predecessor of Ikea. Online / internet
URL http://www.faz.net/aktuell/stil/drinnen-draussen/die-bewegende-geschichte-der-werkstaetten-hellerau-14451580.html (Stand 10.05.2017)
- Deutsche Werkstätten G.M.B.H. Hellerau near Dresden and Munich: Hand-made furniture. Verlag der deutschen Werkstätten, Leipzig. 2nd ed. 1910.
- Arnold, Klaus-Peter: From sofa cushions to city building - the history of Deutsche Werkstätten and the garden city Hellerau. Verlag der Kunst, Dresden. 1993.
1) Picture credits: CC-BY-SA 3.0, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Deutsche Kunst and Dekoration Vol. 54, 1924, p. 345.
In 1897, Alexander Koch founded the magazine "German Art and Décor: illustrated monthly journal for modern painting, sculpture, architecture, residential art, and women's crafts", which covered the decorative art of Art Nouveau.
2) Deutsche Werkstätten G.M.B.H. Hellerau near Dresden and Munich: Hand-made furniture. Verlag der deutschen Werkstätten, Leipzig. 2nd ed. 1910. S. V.
Simone Krach-Kestin M.A.
Curator of the Werner Löffler Collection