The Berlin pyramid is a forgotten type of Christmas pyramid. Father-and-daughter team Götz and Frieda Bellmann are breathing new life into this tradition from the Berlin and Brandenburg region with their own interpretation of the Christmas decoration.

 

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Known from

Handmade in Germany

The Berlin pyramid is painstakingly hand-crafted as a limited edition of 250 units at the Schalling wood-turning workshop in the town of Seiffen, the heart of the Ore Mountains’ folk-art tradition. The pyramid itself is made exclusively using beech and birch wood, and the rotor blades are crafted from Finnish plywood. The small candle holders are usually used in electric sockets. They here represent a special design feature, as the pyramid dispenses with electric light bulbs in favour of traditional candles, which are slotted into the sockets. The rotor is driven by the heat of the four delicate doll candles. The pyramids come with 40 candles included.

Waking the angels

Christmas is a celebration of love, togetherness and family. In the home of Götz Bellmann, the family prepares for this special celebration in keeping with the old traditions of the Ore Mountains. On the First of Advent of every year, they fetch crates and boxes from the attic and unpack the ever-growing treasure trove of historical Christmas decorations. In the Ore Mountains, where the family of the Berlin-based architect has its roots, this tradition is referred to as ‘waking the angels’. Illuminated figures such as angels, miners and nutcrackers are as essential a part of Christmas culture there as “Schwibbögen”, or candle arches, which illuminate the windows of every home on dark winter nights. But truly the most special adornment in every house is the Christmas pyramid, which, decorated with little figures and candles, brings (pre-)Christmas splendour to any living room.

Bridging the gap between tradition and modernity

Product designer Frieda Bellmann loves, and continues to practise, this tradition of the Ore Mountains. While reading through a magazine dating from 1907, her father discovered that Christmas pyramids were once also customary in Berlin. The father-and-daughter team therefore jointly developed the idea of breathing new life into this forgotten tradition once wide-spread in the Berlin and Brandenburg region, and combining history with modern aesthetics. Their fresh interpretation of the Berlin Christmas pyramid bridges the gap between a forgotten Berlin custom and the still vibrant traditions of the Ore Mountains.

Two exhibitions

Bellmann Senior and his daughter designed the initial prototype in their Berlin studios, and then had them produced in the Ore Mountains. Frieda Bellmann then refined the model for the “Love” exhibition, curated by Sabine Dehnel. Boosted by the wealth of positive feedback regarding this individual piece, she and her father decided to commission the production of a limited-edition Berlin Christmas pyramid in the Ore Mountains. Götz – who grew up in Berlin – and Frieda – who was born in Berlin – have named their design the “Berlin pyramid” in order to establish its similarity to the Berlin original and to distinguish it from the type of pyramid found in the Ore Mountains.  

The origins of the Berlin pyramid

 In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Berlin pyramid formed part of the Christmas decorations of both rich and poor families living within the Berlin area. During this period, the pyramids were sold by merchants at Christmas markets. The pyramid’s cultural history ended with the rising popularity of the Christmas tree, when the advent of the railway made it possible to cheaply transport vast quantities of fir trees into the city. Pyramids were still used for some time in poorer households, which could not afford a Christmas tree. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the pyramid had disappeared almost entirely from the Christmas markets. Today only very few models exist in Berlin’s museums and a few private collections. The pyramid, which consisted of four staves fitted with candles, was wrapped in boxwood, brushwood or paper. The initially plain model was later often adorned with rotors like the ones found on the pyramids of the Ore Mountains. However, unlike these pyramids, the Berlin models were often lacking a central axis and the attached rotary disc.

Berlin Christmas market,1874, in The Illustrated London News 3.1.1874

Berlin Christmas market,1874, in The Illustrated London News 3.1.1874

Exhibition at the Museum of European Culture, Berlin 2012

Exhibition at the Museum of European Culture, Berlin 2012

Setting up the Berlin pyramid

Unlike those found in the Ore Mountains, the Berlin pyramid featured a bowl. This could be filled with nuts, dried fruit, apples, wafers, glass balls or figurines, while the staves were wrapped in colourful paper or hung with notes with wishes written on them. Today as in the past, one can give free reign to the imagination when setting up one’s own pyramid, so that each one becomes a unique piece. The bowl of the pyramid comes without any content.


Information

Price
€ 149,00

Edition
250 copies

Year
2016/2017

Production
Drechslerei Schalling
Seiffen, Erzgebirge, DE

 

 

 

 

Delivery includes

Size
30.0 x 19.0 x 19.0 cm

Colour
Light grey

Material
Wood (beech, birch, Finnish plywood), gold-coloured electric socket

Accessories
40 doll candles, 2 adhesive wax pads

Filling
Unfilled

Contact

Design and development
Frieda Bellmann
www.friedabellmann.com
Götz Bellmann
www.bellmannarchitekten.de

Photography
Sophie Bellmann
www.sophiebellmann.de