In the story of Biedermeier, its modest, warm and beautiful interiors, furniture from this period takes pride of place. By its form, this furniture is derived from basic geometric shapes, which in the spirit of the ancient art, are linked in an accordant and a harmonious whole. The main characteristics of the Biedermeier furniture are comfort, simplicity, quality of workmanship and the materials used, due to which even today it looks attractive and modern, and finds its place in contemporary interiors for various purposes.
Chair No.14. Michael Thonet, 1859, Vienna
In Vienna and other cities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, manny various and unusual pieces of furniture – elegant, with curved shape, devoid of frills, made after the drawings of famous artists, in the numerous craft workshops, were produced. In one of the most famous Viennese craft workshops, Thonet, a famous chair, was made, which has become an icon of the industrial design and one of the best selling chairs ever. While developing a chair No.14, also known as the Vienna cafe chair (as it was later called) Michael Thonet actually developed the idea of using simple, cheap materials, specific treatment and the creation of a unique and recognizable forms. This chair of steamed and bent beech is just one in a series of products by Tonet factory, which presented a skilled and bold transition from the former manual to the industrial manufacturing production. During the long years of its existence, this factory, which still exists today, has opened the way to the industrial production of furniture for the masses, protecting and maintaining the quality of materials and workmanship typical of the Biedermeier.
In the aforementioned workshops, as a part of the daily work, as well as specific work demanded in craft examination, made were many, in form, materialization, decoration and purpose unusual and previously unseen, pieces of furniture: desks, secretery desks, cabinets, chests… The furniture was mainly made of soft types of wood and coated with veneers of various types of light and dark wood such as pear, walnut, birch, beech, ash, mahogany. Especially interesting and valuable are the pieces on which through the play of geometric shapes-circle, square, triangle or ellipse combined are various light and dark veneers, taking into account the patterns and textures of veneer sheets and their positioning.
Desk for embroidery,Biedermeier, Austria, 1840.
Reflecting the lifestyle of the time, the ladies would spend their free time devoting themselves to writing letters, doing embroidery, cultivating plants. Accordingly tables of various shapes and purposes were generated. Very popular and favourite among ladies, were the desks for doing embroidery which had a plate of rectangular or circular shape, whrere special attention was paid to the appearance of their supports. For the Biedermeier furniture typical is the use of wavy, convex and concave lines, which like the negatives continue one after another.
In this case, the oval plate, which is mounted on top of the two legs in the form of lira, has a hidden drawer inside. In accordance with the purpose of this table, the drawer itself is partitioned into smaller units for storage of embroidery set, and it even incorporates a small built-in pad for storing of needles. The entire table is mounted on a rectangular pedestal, which supports are the four dark balls. The table is veneered with the bright veneer, with subtle intarsia of darker venner in the form of narrow strips. Harmony of the fine curved and rectangular shapes, skillfully linked into a whole, the use of light veneer with discrete dark veneer intarsia and quality workmanship, give this desk a timeless charm and beauty.
Chest in the Biedermeier style
There were also pieces of furniture which seemed to be dominated by the strict, straight lines and symmetry, modeled after the lines of the ancient art. Closets, cabinets, cupboards, secretary desks are made on a similar principle. Four massive supports, wider at the bottom, were sometimes replaced by a skirting that hid a drawer. The sides were framed and braced by columns or pilasters, which were sometimes further accentuated by black paint. The chests tended to have four drawers and the top was sometimes modeled in the form of the secretary. The top part in the form of a wreath had a tympanum or decoration in the form of vase.
The secretary desk in the Biedermeier style, Germany.