The German Biedermeier style of furniture design developed and grew to popularity in Central Europe and Scandinavia between 1815 and 1848. While it was elegant and dignified, this furniture was not overly ornate or ostentatious. The development of the style was driven by the rising middle class, rather than by the tastes and demands of the aristocracy as had previously been the case. The emerging middle classes after the industrial revolution wanted to spend their new-found wealth on beautiful furniture that showed off their status and refined taste. However, they were not furnishing palaces and chateaux, so the scale and style of the furniture was more in line with their then “modern” lifestyle!
Biedermeier style furniture emphasizes simple lines and gorgeous woods with attractive natural grains. The details were more restrained rather than fussy, including minimal carvings. Influences included the Napoleonic French Empire style, although the designs were simplified. The result was a Neoclassical look that often featured ebonized trims, carved scrollwork, Greek columns, and chair back splats with classical lyre-shaping. More glitzy details like gilded surfaces and extravagant silver handles were rarely seen.
These pieces were also quite utilitarian with a “form following function” aesthetic. Much thought was given to the use of the furniture and the relationship with the materials employed. (Later, the style would develop and simplify even further into the Bauhaus and Art Deco style.)
Biedermeier furniture was typically made with richly grained woods such as cherry, pear, ash and oak woods.
A new phenomenon of salons at home for debating and talking about the important matters of the day led to two types of Biedermeier furniture that were specific to this style. Upholstered sofas with an architectural shape and round pedestal tables for drinks and food were both created to support conversations at a gathering.