With Back in 5 min, a furniture and textile installation in an Empire-style manse, artist and designer Robert Stadler puts a modern spin on 19th century design.
Viennese designer Robert Stadler is best known for his elegant interiors of the Corso restaurants in Paris, and for making contemporary furnishings that embody a sense of refined atavism – primitive-seeming geologic shapes softened with immaculate upholstery.
To enjoy his latest installation, you don’t have to be steeped in the traditions of European design – but it helps. In Back in 5 min, Stadler channels a decidedly more classic feel, drawing inspiration from a unique setting. The installation is spread through multiple rooms of the Geymüllerschlössel, a magnificent summer home erected by the merchant and banker Johann Jakob Geymüller in 1808, now uninhabited and operated by the Museum of Applied Arts Vienna. Located in northwestern Vienna, the house’s interior exemplifies the Biedermeier style popular in Europe during the 1800s, when a new urban middle class brought a dose of utilitarianism to the overwrought ornament of the era’s predominantly Romantic interiors.
In this spirit, Stadler devised a series of unapologetically industrial stools and benches assembled from aluminum honeycomb sandwich panel – an homage to rustic furnishings he calls “a precursor to Biedermeier furniture.” They’re positioned to accentuate their versatility and portability, their multi-functionalism reflecting another hallmark of the Biedermeier style.
To banish the Geymüllerschlössel’s original furniture from view, Stadler created a series of textiles that match the floors in each of the rooms, digitally printing fabrics with detailed patterns of parquet, carpet or stone tiles. Thrown over the families of tables, chairs and sofas, they act as a cloak of invisibility. Across each pattern are scattered randomly smudged areas, not unlike a motion blur. “These distortions are similar to what you see when you use Google Earth and an image hasn’t finished loading,” says Stadler. “It results in a freeze effect, which addresses the endless period of absence.”
Combined with the arrangements of aluminum seating, the textile compositions evoke “a moment between,” in Stadler’s words, as if the rooms were frozen mid-reconfiguration. Two of the rooms are illuminated by strobe lights, heightening this effect as visitors are given glimpses of the interior only in flashes. Back in 5 min seems to keep visitors in eternal suspense, transfixed in a never-ending moment somewhere between past and present.