Biedermeier – Yesterday and Today
The Biedermeier era (1815-48) was a period of tranquility following the devastation of the Napoleonic Wars. It was a fertile time for the design and production of household furniture and accessories. The furniture of the Biedermeier period is characterized by architectural simplicity and the use of light-colored fruitwoods offset by contrasting bands of ebony and maple inlay. It is this timeless sophistication that makes it such a great choice for today. I particularly love how the simple lines of the furniture rely on the grain of the wood for effect.
Biedermeier furniture was influenced by the forms of Empire furniture which preceded it. Biedermeier can be seen as the last phase of neoclassicism in furniture design. It was the first significant style expressly created for a middle-class market. Most of the furniture was the product of anonymous middle-class craftsmen. Even the name connotes “everyman” and was used to identify the era as well as its characteristic style of furniture.
There is no scholarly disagreement about the beginning of the Beidermeier period: it started about 1815, after the fall of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna, the subsequent organization of the German Federation, and the restoration of monarchy in France and Poland. During this settled time, a new and large middle class found greater opportunities for education and cultural pursuits than they had enjoyed under the previous autocratic, repressive regimes. The resulting elevation of popular taste fueled a widespread demand for pleasing household environments and simple, stylish furniture that rejected aristocratic pretension.
A wonderful book on the period is; Biedermeier by Angus Wilkie.
Award winning Biedermeier-style kitchen designed by Jennifer Gilmer. I love this kitchen. Not only is it handsome, but it does a great job of providing a place for 21st century appliances; such as an extra-wide pizza oven and a built-in cappuccino machine all in a modest amount of space.
Biedermeier Reproductions Today
William Switzer & Associates, LTD, is a family operated business in Vancouver, Canada. They specialize in the production of beautiful handmade antique reproductions and custom furnishings. Their William Switzer Collection has the most incredible pieces of Biedermeier furniture.
This incredible Biedermeier Secretaire is made in burled Poplar though the original was made of figured mahogany. They made two versions of this wonderful example, one in mahogany that measures 84″H and a larger version #1604L that measures 96″H. The modified version exaggerates the monumental architecture of the original and is stunning.
This Biedermeier longcase clock is reproduced from an Austrian Circa 1820 original in their collection. It is in burled Poplar Veneers and solid Beechwood, which they have ebonized. The piece measurements are identical to the original W 22.5″ x D 9.5″ x H 76″.
As seen in Luxe Interiors and Design, this William Switzer chair is a reproduction of an 1860 original and exemplifies the Biedermeier style with its architectural form, simple materials and minimal embellishment $2,712. Visit William Switzer online to see their complete furniture collection and locate a showroom near you.