THE BIEDERMEIER REDUX SERIES
Biedermeier refers to the historical period between 1815 (Congress of Vienna, and the end of the Napoleonic Wars) and 1848, the year of European revolutions. Today the term is mainly used to denote the artistic styles that emerged in literature, music, the visual arts and most especially the applied arts. This period was in stark contrast to its predecessor, the Romantic Era. The term Biedermeier is an invented word and comes from the pseudonym Gottlieb Biedermaier. This name was used by the country doctor, Adolf Kussmaul and his collaborator, the lawyer Ludwig Eichrodt in poems printed in the Munich Fliegende Blätter (“FlyingSheets”) that parodied the poetry of the era as depoliticized and petit-bourgeois. The name was constructed from the title of two poems - “Biedermanns Abendgemülichkeit” (Biedermann’s Evening Comfort) and “Bummelmaiers Klage” (Bummelmaier’s Complaint) that Joseph Victor von Scheffel had published in 1848 in the same magazine. As is so often the case in history, this epoch only became known as Biedermeier after the turn of the nineteenth century.
The reevaluation of design during the period 1815-1848 eventually led to the era being labeled Biedermeier and it became known for it’s lack of ostentation, abstracted lines and classicized geometry. The founders of the Wiener Werkstätte (the applied arts wing of the Vienna Secession) were very influenced by Biedermeier aesthetic. This is quite evident in the furniture produced by the Werkstätte from its inception in 1899 to about 1910 when it eschewed the principles of simple geometry and reverted to a more flowery, “historic” style.
Today, objects from the period, especially furniture, are highly prized by antique collectors. This demand has driven the market price of good quality Biedermeier pieces off the charts. Probably one of the best known items from the period is seating furniture. Designed without the flamboyant rococo style carving of Empire and other historic styles, the Biedermeier era chair was usually an exercise in lyrical simplicity. I have borrowed from that simplicity in designing and crafting the chair for Ernst Bieder.
This body of work is not about Biedermeier reproduction. While I am extremely drawn to the period I have no interest in duplicating pieces that have already been made. My intent is to conceive of pieces that may be formal or they may be more fun and maybe even a little humorous but always on some level, referencing Biedermeier style. The use of neoclassical devices such as columns and pediments, simple gestural lines, lyrical curves, fine woods and veneers all contribute to the “Biedermeier Affect.”