Kitchen chair model (82)5 from furniture ensemble by Richard Riemerschmid

ca. 1910, made by Dresdner Werkstätten Hellerau

This chair is part of a kitchen furniture ensemble by Richard Riemerschmid. However, we are not showing it as an outstanding example of the first industrial production of affordable furniture for the masses in Riemerschmid’s machine furniture programme as part of our new special exhibition on the object’s biography, but rather as a research object for restoration and conservation science. Juliane Ritz examined the spruce and copper beech construction and the original cream-white setting of the chair using non-invasive (photography, infrared reflectography) and invasive methods (paint samples, solvent tests). She determined the composition of pigments and binders, distinguished climatic, mechanical and biological damage and reconstructed repairs as well as the red, yellow and green repainting from the 1970s. In this way, she creates a comprehensive material biography of the chair and uncovers relationships between transformations, damage, repairs and obsolescence. This raises questions about the future of the chair: conservation, i.e. stabilising the construction and cleaning the surfaces? Biographical restoration, i.e. making all phases of life visible? Or restoration to its original state and thus making its life story invisible?

The special exhibition “The Story of My Life. Object Biography as Concept, Method and Genre” can be seen at the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge since 19 January 2023.