GDR Furniture Design
Weimer Furniture Archive
Photographer Friedrich Weimer’s special archive on the furniture industry in the GDR is an excellent supplement to the special interest collection focusing on "Contemporary art since 1945, photography, industrial design and commercial graphic arts" at the SLUB Dresden.
The German Photographic Collection (Deutsche Fotothek) image database offers an online search of this archive containing more than 16,000 b/w and color negatives, which provide an incredibly complete and unique visual documentation of the development of an entire industrial sector.
The Hellerau photographer Freidrich Weimer went on after elementary school to do an apprenticeship as a printer, which he successfully completed in 1933. His interest in photography led him to become a member of an amateur photography club during this time.
He decided to turn this passion into a profession, and studied with the Dresden photographer Reinhard Berger between 1938 and 1939. From 1946 on, Weimer worked as an independent photographer, and by 1950 he was a master of the trade of photography.
Besides portraits, he created his first photographic series of pieces of furniture at the Leipzig furniture trade fair in the 1950s. From the mid 1960s on, Weimer focused on commissions from the furniture industry and photographing architecture. From 1972 to 1991, he was bound by contract to work for the entire GDR furniture industry.
Furniture Trade Fairs
Particularly the photographs after 1956 taken at the annual Leipzig furniture trade fair (in spring and autumn) give us a clear picture of furniture design development of the time.
Details und Interiors
Friedrich Weimer was not only responsible for documenting displays of the latest furniture at industry exhibitions. The archive also contains numerous photographs of his product detail shots, for example the row of knobs by VEB Hellerau (ill. 2). His photographs of interiors provide insight into the GDR design aesthetic, such as this one room apartment at the College for Art and Design in Halle (Burg Giebichenstein) from 1973 (ill. 3).
Using the search function at arthistoricum.net, you can easily research both bibliographical information on literature for this topic as well as search for as photographs from the Deutsche Fotothek image database (German Photographic Collection).