Villa Esche in Chemnitz

Henry van de Velde's "DESIGN FOR LIFE"

In 1902, the Belgian designer Henry van de Velde was awarded the contract to construct a prestigious villa. At the start of 1899, the young textile entrepreneur from Chemnitz, Herbert Eugen Esche, a connoisseur and lover of contemporary art, ordered from van de Velde furniture for his first apartment, which he occupied after his marriage to Johanna Luise Koerner. The apartment was located in the Kaßberg district of Chemnitz, one of the largest contiguously preserved "Gründerzeit" [period of promoterism] and Art Nouveau districts in Germany. The successful Chemnitz-based stocking manufacturer then wished to inhabit a living space designed as an overall work of art and following van de Velde's modern ideals of contemporary and rational design.

This is how, in 1902/1903 on high ground in the southern part of the city of Chemnitz, van de Velde's first architectural commission in Germany came about. Herbert and Hanni [Johanna] Esche met the designer, who had become highly sought-after in Germany and, having great confidence in him, permitted van de Velde an entirely free rein. Thus, his "design for life" embraced all areas of the family home: from façades and room layout, to wall design and coverings, doors, windows, lamps and carpets, furniture, porcelain, silverware, letter openers and travelling blankets for the car... and even clothing and jewellery for the lady of the house. The Belgian also incorporated the spaciously laid out gardens functionally and artistically within the overall concept of the house. Villa Esche is an exceptionally authentic testimony to the architectural philosophy of Henry van de Velde, which has now been elaborately and sensitively restored to clearly reflect this.