Old becomes beautiful: old craftsmanship for beautiful living

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Traditional handicrafts meet many modern demands. They are local, sustainable and encourage creativity

Old becomes beautiful: old craftsmanship for beautiful living

An impressive desk from the early 18th century stands in the middle of the workshop. An heirloom, lots of drawers, hidden compartments, a tabernacle – the beautiful piece of furniture is sure to know countless stories and secrets. But the traces of age are recognizable even to laypeople: broken corners, yellowed surfaces, cracks in the veneers. There have been several attempts by unskilled hands to cover up the signs of the times. “Often more is done with it than straightened,” says Richard Addison.

Learned craft

That is why it is so important to find the right expert for your piece of furniture. Addison, who runs a workshop in the fifteenth district with his wife Andrea, is one of them. Her business is to iron out repair mistakes and to bring the piece of furniture back to its former glory with all its patina. Both learned and deepened their craft in England. “There are a large number of respected training centers for restaurateurs,” reports Andrea Addison. The most important thing in her job is “the knowledge and understanding of the history, the character of the furniture and a lot of patience.”

Gild the frame

The knowledge of materials, their properties and care, as well as their preservation is what drives other craft colleagues. The visit to gilder Martina Hoffinger on Wiedner Hauptstrasse shows just as much dedication. The gilding trade has been passed on in her family for five generations. “Our work is very dirty and not as romantic as it sounds,” she happily describes her everyday life and puts on her work apron. There is a lot to do in the studio. Numerous very old frames are waiting to be restored.

Attention to detail

It is ground, repaired, broken parts are re-carved (“My father does that, who still helps in the workshop every day.”) And then gold-plated. “It can't get kitschy, that's why preserving the patina is so important. A completely glossy frame looks cheap, ”says Hoffinger. Surrounded by a lot of pomp and gold sheen, the kitsch idea actually does not arise. Here, too, we work with great attention to detail and understanding of the work. In addition to frames and furniture, walls and ceilings can also be gilded. This is how something special and individual emerges from an ordinary piece. Hoffinger: “I always have the feeling that gold makes people happy, the hue and shine have a mood-enhancing effect.”

Desire for interior design

Especially in times of pandemics, the desire for living space design is increased. “You suddenly spend so much time at home and in daylight it is easier to notice that the sofa is already showing signs of wear and tear,” says master upholsterer Bernhard Vock. While work in the catering sector is almost completely lost, more and more private households are bringing old armchairs or benches to new ones. “It pays off especially when I want a one-off item,” the expert likes to advise brave ideas. Sustainability also comes first in his craft. Whereby he points out: “A piece of furniture bought cheaply often does not have a long lifespan. Sometimes a refresher is not worthwhile. ”This is what the craftsman's expertise is there for. Before making the next new purchase, it is worth taking a look at the existing and the inspiration from old arts.

Old becomes beautiful: old craftsmanship for beautiful living

To preserve the character of the furniture: Richard and Andrea Addison bring out the old glory of antique furniture

Old becomes beautiful: old craftsmanship for beautiful living

New clothes for old seating furniture: Long before upcycling was the trend, it was already practiced by upcycling.

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