Articles of daily use and home furnishings of the emigrant are described as U.

In the late 1920s, the young interior designer Rahel Bontjes van Beek (née Weisbach) began to build a promising career in Berlin. Among her clients were several Berlin intellectuals, many of them Jewish. During the mounting wave of emigration in the early 1930s, she worked independently in cooperation with a carpenter, who reworked furniture for transportation when its owners migrated. Furthermore, Rahel Weisbach designed portable furniture. In this way, her designs left Germany while she herself did not have the opportunity to do so.

In search of Rahel Weisbach’s furniture, the project attempts to follow the tracks of former owners and, thereby, reveals a part of the Jewish migration history between Germany, Great Britain and Israel, while furniture and its afterlife offer evidence of a complex history of global connections and socio-political relations. On this basis, the film questions the circumstances of migration, which involved countless regulations and constraints. Which belongings would and could one take along? What were the benefits of portable furniture, and what did it look like? The paradox between the sedentary nature of a “piece of furniture” and its supposed “transportability” as well as its meaning as a memento of a lost world reflects the emotional conflict and uncertainty of emigration and immigration.

Rahel Weisbach was born in Berlin in 1907. After an apprenticeship as a carpenter, she worked in the office of Erich Mendelsohn for two years. Thereafter, on behalf of the architect Martin Elsaesser, she managed the interior design of the so-called Haus K. in O., a luxurious villa in Hamburg for the cigarette manufacturer Phillip Reemtsma. Back in Berlin, she worked independently until she was banned from her profession by the Reichskulturkammergesetz in 1935, because she was classified as »half-Jewish« by the National Socialists. From then on, she supported and managed the career of her husband, Jan Bontjes van Beek, an artist and ceramist.

A project by
Amelie Wegner
Anna Luise Schubert

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Duration  30:54 min