Peter Behren's Dining Room

Peter Behren's Dining Room
6 records
At the turn of the last century, the department store was a principal agent in the mission to elevate public taste. In 1902 the Wertheim family invited a dozen artists—including Peter Behrens, Richard Riemerschmid, and M. H. Baillie Scott—to create rooms for an ideal home. These complete interiors, on display and ready for purchase, were championed in a contemporary magazine, Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, as proof of the “intrinsically democratic character of the decorative arts movement, which had earlier only been theoretically expressed.”

The unifying aesthetic of the room was the rhythmic geometry of its repeating rectangles. These designs, intended for mass production, were easier to reproduce than the curved forms Behrens used in his house at Darmstadt.

Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration published photographs of the exhibition of rooms for an ideal home. This primary source was invaluable for LACMA’s replication of Behrens’s dining room setting. Because the furniture, tableware, glassware, and cutlery went into limited production, it was possible to acquire period examples for this display. The photographs and room descriptions from 1902, as well as similar examples of Behrens’s work, helped in the re-creation of elements that did not survive, such as the stenciled frieze. The carpet was handmade to match Behrens’s inventive design. Images of the elaborate ceiling lamp and sconces were carefully analyzed, redrawn to scale, and then executed by architecture students.

- Wendy Kaplan (2005)