2 October 2014

This is the Kaiserliches Hofmobiliendepot in Vienna, the Imperial Furniture Collection. I was there last week and it was quite something. Based on the French concept of a centralised furniture store, the depot kept itself busy with fitting out houses and rooms for the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg imperial family as they progressed from one place to the other. Apparently only one palace, the Hofburg in Vienna, was permanently furnished. The rest was on demand.

Busy administrators kept long lists of how many chairs, cupboards, spittoons and other essential household items were needed for a stay of the family and their guests. It was all inventoried as mahogany, oak or pine. Rank of guest, family or staff determined what you got. We can see a lot of scope for deals and complaints and indeed, the depot was regularly criticised. Furniture was delivered by cart or train.

The depot is still used to furnish embassies and for state functions, so not everything is neatly arranged. There are style rooms and important items are placed in historical context. This is where the furniture in the Sissi films came from.
There is a lot of stuffy frilly late 19th century furniture, but also rooms full of beautiful Biedermeier furniture. Recently the depot has started adding modernist items to their collection as well. And in case you are wondering, a lot of the chairs you can test yourself. www.hofmobiliendepot.at

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