Alwin Homeier of COLONEUM Antik tells us why you can never go wrong with Biedermeier

Biedermeier & Beyond

In Eastern Bavaria, at the confluence of the Danube, Naab, and Regen rivers, you’ll find the charming town of Regensburg. There, in the medieval town center, you’ll find COLONEUM Antik, an inviting antiques shop that was founded over 30 years ago by antiques expert Alwin Homeier. A few years, Alwin’s son David joined the family business and opened the collection to a wider audience through online platforms, but the specialization remains the same: Biedermeier, Art Deco, and Bauhaus furniture, alongside an assortment of mid-century modern designs.

Coloneum Antik in Regensburg, Germany Photo © Coloneum Antik
Though the Homeiers’ expertise spans a lengthy timeline—from the early 1800s to the mid-20th century—there is a clear thread that runs through every object they offer: clean lines, reduced ornamentation, rich materials, and timeless elegance. As a result, the vast array of antiques offered by COLONEUM Antik just so happens to look totally at home in contemporary interiors. In fact, Biedermeier designs in particular pair so perfectly with modernist aesthetics, because many masters of 20th-century design were directly inspired by the movement’s refined simplicity.

Read on to learn more from Alwin about the enduring work of the Biedermeier era and its descendents.


Photo © Coloneum Antik
When did you start Coloneum Antik, and what was the inspiration or vision for the business?

For me, it started in 1989. In my youth, I had already found a great passion for antiques and wanted to be self-employed. As an aesthetic person, over time I felt especially drawn to the beauty and artisanal craftsmanship of furniture from the early Biedermeier, Art Deco, and Bauhaus periods.

What originally drew you to Biedermeier, and why do you think the style remains so beloved 200 years later?

With Biedermeier furniture, I am most fascinated by the simplicity of the design forms and the natural allure of the woods. Such timelessness is the main reason for the ongoing popularity of this epoch.

Biedermeier-Empire Sofa in Cherrywood Veneer and Horse Hair, c. 1810s Photo © Coloneum Antik
For those that are unfamiliar, can you tell us about the Biedermeier movement—where did it come from, and why is its expression so simple compared to other decorative styles of era?

Two centuries ago, skilled carpenters in Central Europe worked with simple yet very efficient tools and built beautiful, exceptionally elegant furniture. Following the Napoleonic wars, European aristocrats wanted to live in a more “modern” way—that is, they wanted to modernize their private living spaces by turning away from the opulence of Baroque and Empire decoration. That’s how the style originated, among the aristocrats rather than among the bourgeoisie as is often thought.

In the Biedermeier style, ornamentation was reduced or omitted altogether, and the innate qualities of the woods became the focus. To emphasize the beauty of the grains—mostly fruitwoods—a high-gloss shellac polish was applied. We do this today when we restore pieces in our restoration atelier, replicating the traditional methods.

The term Biedermeier comes from the Munich newspaper Fliegende Blätter, which long ago published a cartoon about Gottlieb Biedermeier, a character made up by poets Ludwig Eichrodt and Dr. Adolf Kußmaul. The entire era was named after this popular figure in retrospect.

For collectors, it’s important to differentiate between the strict early Biedermeier (1815-1835) and the curvier and more opulent late Biedermeier (1835-1848), which is called Louis Philippe in Austria. There is also a distinction between the urban veneered furniture and rural softwood furniture.

Biedermeier Walnut Armoire, c. 1815-20 Photo © Coloneum Antik
Can you share an example of Biedermeier work from your collection and talk about why it’s special?

Yes, there are many pieces that stand out. But let’s take a Biedermeier Armoire, two-doored from South Germany around 1815-1820. The walnut veneer is book-matched with high precision. Running from the top cornice with the head-drawer over the doors and the protruding bottom down to the floor, it is perfectly veneered. The grain of the walnut wood interacts in absolute beauty with medium- to light-brown and yellow tones. Framed by two ebonized half-columns with gold-plated corinthian capitals. The dimensions (H 181 x W 115 x D 49.5 cm) are very well balanced. And the doors have been counter-veneered on the inside.

What is the relationship between Biedermeier work and the other kinds of design you specialize in, Art Deco and Bauhaus?

I classify every good work individually and with respect. I look for the best of Biedermeier as well as the best Art Deco and Bauhaus. We carry Biedermeier and modern furniture in a 50:50 ratio.

Each of these styles are very sought after, timeless, and valuable. Customers for Art Deco may skew slightly older, while younger customers often prefer Biedermeier. But most modernist lovers are attracted to Biedermeier because it is seen as the “invention of simplicity,” the earliest predecessor to the ideas that were embraced by the Bauhaus movement roughly 100 years later.

Neoclassical Biedermeier Mirror in Cherry Root and Walnut Root Woods, c. 1820 Photo © Coloneum Antik
What kinds of interiors work best with Biedermeier antiques?

Biedermeier designs fit in every interior—whether an aging apartment or a contemporary house—thanks to the style’s elegant simplicity, functionality, and flexibility. Years ago, Biedermeier furniture was often paired with traditional wallpapers, but now we like these pieces best with parquet or stone floors, white walls, and high ceilings. Since they are not lush or oversized, these pieces have a great advantage; they are the easiest antiques to combine with modern and minimalist interiors.

Do you think that Biedermeier antiques are a good investment for collectors?

Yes, Biedermeier pieces—urban, pure, and high-quality—remain a great investment, similar to classic design furniture. You always get money back after years of enjoyment. This work has retained value in the market for decades. But one should always consult and buy from experts in order to make the best choices and get the best quality and originality. Under these conditions, one cannot go wrong with Biedermeier furniture.


All photos © COLONEUM Antik


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