When the Biedermeier style first reached its height, it was during the years of 1815-1848 in Vienna, spreading to the rest of Europe. It was recognized as a style for the growing middle classes since it emphasized both the functionality and elegance of everyday objects and tools. Furniture design, especially, took on a highly utilitarian aesthetic with its clean lines and minimal ornamentality. It’s clear for contemporary viewers to see how this style has regained favor in the Western home – everything from sans-serif fonts to sleek kitchen appliances are capitalizing on clean lines and the beauty of simplicity.
Architecture was also influenced by the Biedermeier movement. The Stadttempel in Vienna, Austria is a picturesque example of this early-1800s style and is one of the only Jewish synagogues from pre-WWII times that remains standing. Designed by Joseph Kornhäusel, the Stadttempel’s façade connects it to the surrounding buildings on the Viennese street – in accordance with past city ordinances. Since it couldn’t be destroyed without also demolishing the adjacent buildings, it was the only synagogue in Vienna to escape destruction in WWII. The image below shows the “basic” sophistication of the interior dome of the synagogue. The blonde woods and marbles accented by rich cherry and mahogany strips are characteristic of the time.
Residential construction was also influenced by the Biedermeier movement; houses were set farther back from the street in an effort to increase privacy, a growing desire of the upper-middle class society.
If I had my “druthers”, my home would be filled with the arcing, clean-cut lines of the Biedermeier style furniture and utensils. The colors are brilliant and the pieces are beautifully made… I’ve always thought the style seemed a century ahead of its time. At least it’s coming back!