To sit down with Gert Weber at one of his tables is a joy. Not only because Gert Weber is both a stimulating and intelligent conversationalist, as well as an excellent cook, but mainly because the tables he makes truly define the room in which they stand. They serve as a gathering point, a place at which people congregate – regardless of whether they wish to talk to one another, share a meal or get down to work – as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
It was not until Gert Weber asked me to write a few lines about his work that I came to understand why this is so. I believe that anyone with a keen eye can learn a great deal about the man – his thought processes, his intentions and especially about his actions – just by taking a look at his tables.
To start with, they’re unspectacular yet distinctly noticeable, and possessed of a naturalness that almost makes you want to approach them, place things on them and sit down at them – after all, isn’t that what tables are for? Certainly, but why is that? Well, for one thing, Gert Weber always custom builds his tables for a particular room, that is to say, there’s a dependency between his tables and the surrounding proportions. And because he wishes to set an example: this is where the table is going to stand. Weber invests a room with function. That’s why his tables are always large, resolute, unambiguous, the constructional idea being four legs and a sheet of metal or glass. There’s an aura of normality about them that emanates from the solidity of the construction, the materials used and the workmanship. It’s as simple as that, provided one has the ability to observe closely, an understandin of the nature of things, and the talent to implement it to such a degree of perfection – afresh each time, with no ,off-thepeg’ solutions. His works are variations on a theme; what remains a constant is his trademark, which thus becomes a stylistic device.
Over the years, his tables have brought forth, and continue to generate, a steady succession of new designs and new pieces of furniture, all the way to architectural plans, all of which make use of the same language because they were developed using the same approach. This is how his tables signal that they’re tables, his cupboards that they’re cupboards, a chair that it’s a chair, a room that it’s a room, a house that it’s a house – and nothing more. One thing his works always show, however, is that they can be entrusted with the safekeeping of objects. It’s those little details, the finer points, that arouse trust in Gert Weber’s furniture – probably unconsciously at first, then consciously: the visually understandable construction of the object, the readability of its function, and a reduction of the methods employed. For me, a typical example of this approach can be found in the tubular steel bookshelf that Gert Weber whose quality lies in its stringent consideration of even the smallest details – by way of an example, the shelf supports can be shifted without producing that awful screeching sound of metal on metal that sets your teeth on edge, and without leaving scratch marks on the pureness of the chromium plating.
In my view, however, the high point in Gert Weber’s efforts to take every possible detail into consideration came with his next bookshelf, the glass shelves which have a slightly convex edge at the front. To suppose that this was a purely decorative touch would be a great mistake. The convex edge does, indeed, emphasize the section between each of the two individual rods, as well as accentuate the rods themselves, but its main purpose – and this was the design objective – was to avoid a possibly crooked wall from making a longer row of bookshelves also look crooked. That’s how simple a solution can be if it is well thought out.
It’s good to know that such universality and diversity still exist today, for in reality, such things no longer exist. In the meantime, it’s the now ,classic’ solutions to furniture-making and the architectural language of the 1920s and ’30s that serve as a spiritual model for Gert Weber and which, then as now, inevitably remain the reserve of a wealthy and educated client class. Much like a conversation or a meal at one of Gert Weber’s tables: appropriate, suitable and always unique.